Harvest of Hope Growing Principals
1. Build the soil with the use of compost and manure
Many of our gardens make small quanitities themselves and we support in subsidized manuere where needed. The soil is the heart of the garden (except of course our farmers) and we work hard to build the soil all the time. All soil and farming methods are supervised and supported by our full-time soil scientist. You will never hear the word "dirt" here... life is in the soil!
2. No Chemical Inputs
We supply organically certified chicken manure and encourage the use of herb teas such as comfrey, which supply extra nutrients. Pest and disease control is managed by picking off pests by hand, through crop rotation, and diversification. The South Easter wind also does a magnificent, natural, job. If absolutely necessary, an organically certified spray may be used.
3. Crop Rotation
We assist gardens with production planning to ensure that proper crop rotation is practiced. This means that the same vegetables are not grown in the same soil year after year. Crop rotation helps with pest and disease control, weed control, soil structure and soil fertility.
4. Windbreaks and Basic Herbs
Many gardens are planted with windbreaks and a selection of herbs for medicinal and culinary use. Abalimi has a long-term plan to introduce the above to all, thus encouraging biodiversity in every garden.
5. Companion planting
We encourage companion planting in every garden. Companion planting involves planting not only vegetables, but also herbs and ornamental plants that attract beneficial insects.
We supply mulching material from our garden centres in Khayalitsha and Nyanga. Mulch provides a blanket covering of organic material over beds. It helps to reduce pests and also prevents the ground from losing water and drying out, particularly important with the drying Cape South Easter. We also encourage people to source their own mulching material such as grass cuttings.
7. Seedling production
For reliable production, we buy in seedlings from a non-organic source. At this stage, it is not possible to source organically certified seedlings. We do substitute the gardens to with their self-produced seedlings where possible.
Record keeping is one of the most important principles of organic farming. It enables us to follow the process from seed, to plant, to final product and later pinpoint the stage at which something went wrong, it it should. Traceability is highly encouraged with our micro-farmers.
A simple harvest procedure is followed whereby produce is picked and given a wash with tap water in each garden. It is then collected by a designated vehicle and brought to our pack shed in Philippi where it is washed and scrubbed properly and packed into boxes ready to be distributed to you. We do strongly recommend everything is also washed before being eaten.
In order to manage any risk of contamination from surrounding informal settlements, Abalimi carries out a bi-annual water analysis to check nitrate levels at each micro-farm. This test will pick up early signs of ground water contamination. If there are any signs of contamination, Harvest of Hope will not sell these vegetables. We do however purchase from our farmers. Soil tests are also conducted bi-annually to ensure adequate levels of soil fertility.