Recently we took a camping trip to a local eco farm in the Wairarapa to learn more about this community minded venture. I am really interested in ways people are quietly going about helping the environment within their career. I love listening to their story unfold and hearing what motivated and drove them.
Frank and Josje (The Dutch owners) set up the farm back in 1996 when they bought a bare piece of land. They set about slowing the wind with windbreaks and planting a couple of olive groves.
What is community supported Agriculture? I took an evening stroll with Frank as he fed out to the 60 odd chickens, several roaming ducks, geese and pigs to learn more about CSA. The idea is to produce excellent, healthy produce by caring for the soil. This means using a combination of compost, seaweed blends, biodynamics and a passion for what they are doing. The harvest is shared between members who sign up for the season for a weekly delivery of farm fresh organic produce.
As we walked through the large fenced olive grove, Frank explained the system for egg production. The (home breed) chickens run free range alongside the ducks and a small flock of sheep. These three different grazers keep the grass in check, fertilise the soil and maintain a healthy pest free eco system of their own, without pesticides or fertilisers. All moving happily about under the olive grove. The hen houses have been through various stages of design, finally arriving at one that is easily moved around the orchard to fertilise different areas. The chickens are also community owned and eggs are spread throughout members weekly.
The farm is home to Frank and Josje and their four children- Sanne, Renske, Femke and Wietse who all play a part in caring for the land. More recently in 2009 they leased a pip and stone orchard in Masterton and converted it to organic production. But thats another story.
If your interested to become a CSA member or find out more about Frank and Josje, you can check out their website here