Why is the use of organic heirloom seeds SO important?

If you have ever tried to grow generations of tomatoes from a store bought tomato you will know the answer to this question, they just don’t grow very well. Maybe good growth in the first generation, but consecutive generations do poorly. Genetics is an art as well as a science and breeding, whether it is with humans, animals or plants all have the same benefits and pitfalls.

If you go into Pick n Pay and Checkers and buy seeds they will probably all germinate. They will grow well and give good yields if you looked after your plants correctly. You are using the same seeds most farmers use, as a matter of fact – good germination high yield hybrids. But there is a problem – in most cases you cannot seed save. Large scale farmers don’t care – they just buy new seeds every year because they don’t have the time nor the inclination to save seed. Also, they may have grown two varieties of, for example, brassicas together and the plants cross pollinated. For example, they grew broccoli and cabbages together. Now these two plants are of the same type so they will cross pollinate with each other and produce a plant that is neither a good cabbage or a good broccoli.

So these high yield hybrid seeds that you find so predominant in most shops produce plants that grow well for one season but the plants that grow from the seeds they produce are often very poor specimens indeed. SharpeiAnd you can see this with animals too. For example, my parents once had a Sharpei. If you don’t know what a Sharpei looks like, check out the blanket er, I mean dog on the right. Now this dog has been specially bred to look like that – over many many years the special gene that causes the skin to wrinkle like that has been preserved in the parent animals and passed on. But because of this very careful breeding, the health of the animal is quite fragile. A “pavement special” on the other hand, is a dog that nature produced the good old fashioned way and is genetically a very healthy animal. This is because the female will mate with a few different dogs, if they are around, and the strongest healthiest sperm will fertilize her eggs, resulting in the healthiest possible offspring. This is why inbreeding and incest among humans is so frowned upon – nature doesn’t like it because the genes are too similar and the offspring usually have more defects.

So using that understanding and applying it to plants it is very clear why heirloom seeds are so important and why gardeners and farmers should seed swap and seed save. Seed swapping helps to enlarge the gene variety so that nature can select the strongest genes for the offspring. Another very important benefit is that over time plants and their offspring become accustomed to the soil and weather conditions of the environment they grow in and in the long run they need much less water and nutrients to thrive.

There are so many benefits to organic heirloom seeds and more people should get educated about them so that we may improve the way we produce our food. The Ethical Suppliers online shop has a heirloom seed supplier and more suppliers and products will be added in future.

Wild Food Foraging In Semi-Urban Area

20151228_103959Yes! Wild food still exists, even in today’s urbanized areas. There is a piece of land near where I live that is semi wild, there is a dirt road and some houses nearby but there is also a lot of forest and small animals. In fact sometimes I will be quietly sitting meditating when all of a sudden a little buck will come bounding past and scare me half to death! One day I was walking and I saw these small red berries. Now I will advise you to never eat food you don’t know but I have always been a bit stupid when it comes to risk taking and I took a berry and ate it. As you can see, I am still alive and the berry was delicious! Since then, I eat a few berries whenever I walk past that area. I will try to find out the name of this plant and update the article when I do.

Wild food foraging is immensely satisfying. There is something about finding little edible treats in nature that is so much fun. And of course it is organic too! Not only organic, but the plant’s genetic material is superb as it has been self-propagating for who knows how long. Many of our current food plants can’t boast that same feat – try growing your store bought tomato seeds past 2 or 3 generations and you will see what I mean.

I plan on creating an organic seed bank and taking a percentage and sowing it in the wild. My aim is to try and increase the amount of “wild food” in areas like these and see how these plants fare. If the experiment goes well, more “food forests” can be created, growing on their own as Nature intended. I think that destitute and homeless people should at least be able to forage for food. Living off Nature is essential to feeling safe and secure in this world when you have absolutely nothing to call your own.

Adopted Battery Hen Rehabilitation

Battery hens produce 80% of the eggs used in the world (that was a conservative estimate but I’m sure it’s actually even more), and this kind of factory farming is one of the most abominable things man has done to Nature. For about a year, or half it’s life basically, the hens are kept in small cages and not allowed to dust bathe, forage for insects and greens, and generally just be free and happy. They are kept in cages only because it makes their price cheaper because you don’t need to spend so much time or manpower collecting eggs. actual

Pictured here is an actual battery hen operation by a small scale farmer in South Africa. They are overcrowded and small. All they can do is eat and lay eggs, for a year, until they are roughly bundled into cages and sent off to the abattoir or sold live in informal settlements. In the latter case, the hens are often without shade for the whole day, and with the current heatwave in the highveld at the moment this really half kills the hens.

An animal lover by the name of Cindy (thanks Cindy!) has adopted 2 battery hens Photo-0025and I have adopted the other 2 so a total of 4 hens were rehabilitated this weekend. It was horrible for me to see these poor animals with red diseased looking wounds by their undersides, and their bodies felt fragile and brittle. It really broke my heart I actually wore sunglasses just to hide the tears. I put them in their own outside room so that they could feel safe and gave them food and water and left the door open. When I checked up on them, they were outside and on the earth for the first time in their lives. They were able to walk around and nibble on grass and insects and other things, which they had never done before – they were literally fed the same thing every day for their whole lives.

The picture of them looks much better than the reality. Their feathers look white, and the pink bald spot looks not too bad. But actually the skin on the whole underside of their bodies was red and inflamed looking, and the feathers were matted, broken off, and filthy.

I have taken a picture of one of my hens, see how fluffy and clean her feathers look. And no bald patches at all, just thick healthy fluffy feathers.

broiler-chickens-slide8

The males suffer an almost worse state. They are usually not kept in cages (but still not free to go outside) but with many of them towards the end of their lives they are so heavy that their legs can’t cope and they spend a lot of time lying around, not roosting on perches as they would normally, and as a result they get inflamed and infected skin as you can see Photo-0022in this picture.

These are extreme cases but they are VERY common and ALL the animals suffer a high level of physical discomfort and unhygienic, unnatural conditions.

KFC, McDonalds, all chicken in Pick n Pay, Checkers, Spar etc, they all use chicken from factory farms that keep chickens from living happy, healthy lives.

Here you can see one hen and one rooster. This rooster’s legs are so powerful, he has no problem running around and he is HUGE, about 3kg I estimate. If we switch to free range meat we can have the same thing under better circumstances we just need to use our massive buying power, which is the only power in this world of money worship, to improve the lives of animals.

Compare this picture of my chickens having an absolute ball, and tell me:

WHICH DO YOU PREFER?

to get involved in adopting battery hens contact info@ethicalsuppliers.co.za or call 011 818 0153 or whatsapp 071 930 5697. Hens usually cost R50 each.

Photo-0031

How To Keep Backyard Chickens

So you are tired of paying a fortune for eggs and you don’t even know if the hens are actually free range or just not in cages but still indoors – now you want to keep your own chickens and enjoy fresh eggs every day. It’s not hard to raise chickens but there are a few things you must realize. This tutorial will cover the basics.

Shelter

Chickens need a protected “house” called a coop which usually has roosting spaces and nest boxes. Since their ancestors used to rest in trees, as do most birds, they need a sort of very wide ladder to perch on at night. They will use their nest boxes to lay eggs in and you need about 1 box for every 5 hens. If you train them correctly (not difficult) they will go to their coop every evening by themselves and you can just lock them up and let them out in the morning.

Feed

I prefer mash but chicken feed comes in pellets too but for young chicks you need chick starter mash. As they get older their feeds are supplemented with extra calcium. Bear in mind that you don’t need to worry about calcium as much with free range hens because sunlight is excellent for calcium production. It’s the poor things stuck in cages 24/7 that suffer from lack of nutrients and get stuffed with an assortment of things to help them be healthy. It’s also a good idea to get special waterers because they could knock over bowls or get them filthy very quickly so waterers help prevent this. Chickens drink a lot of water so never let them go thirsty.

Territory

Chickens are creatures of habit and territory. I once had 2 Blue Leghorns  who used to sleep in one of the outside rooms. I later got more chickens and these new chickens refused point blank to sleep with the 2 Blue Leghorns in the coop. I had to build a separate temporary coop in the evening in the middle of winter for the new chickens. Then when I wanted to move them to the new structure I erected they wouldn’t leave their old spot. Eventually after much manipulation and chasing and drama I managed to get them to go to where I needed them to go and that problem was solved.

Egg laying

Egg laying typically starts at about 20 – 30 weeks but it could be earlier or later. The eggs start out small and get bigger as the hens get older. Even if you provide nestboxes the hens may still find other places in your backyard to lay so keep an eye out for surprises. Once we found 20 eggs that they had been hiding. A rooster is not needed for egg production. If you do have a rooster fertilizing some of the eggs they are exactly the same as normal eggs and you won’t notice any difference in taste or appearance but keep them in the fridge to completely halt development of the embryo, just to be on the safe side. Photo-0029

Breeds

The best breeds are hardy indigenous breeds like Rhode Island Red, Boschveld, Leghorn, Potch Koekoek and Wyandotte to name just a few but there are many different breeds.

 

 

Basic Tutorial for Backyard Egg Farm

So you are tired of paying a fortune for eggs and you don’t even know if the hens are actually free range or just not in cages but still indoors – now you want to keep your own chickens and enjoy fresh eggs every day. It’s not hard to raise chickens but there are a few things you must realize. This tutorial will cover the basics.

Shelter

Chickens need a protected “house” called a coop which usually has roosting spaces and nest boxes. Since their ancestors used to rest in trees, as do most birds, they need a sort of very wide ladder to perch on at night. They will use their nest boxes to lay eggs in and you need about 1 box for every 5 hens. If you train them correctly (not difficult) they will go to their coop every evening by themselves and you can just lock them up and let them out in the morning.

Feed

I prefer mash (finely ground maize, soya and other ingredients) and chicken feed comes in pellets too but for young chicks you need chick starter mash. As they get older their feeds are supplemented with extra calcium. Bear in mind that you don’t need to worry about calcium as much with free range hens because sunlight is excellent for calcium production. It’s the poor things stuck in cages 24/7 that suffer from lack of nutrients and get stuffed with an assortment of things to help them be healthy. It’s also a good idea to get special waterers because they could knock over bowls or get them filthy very quickly so waterers help prevent this. Chickens drink a lot of water so never let them go thirsty.

Territory

Chickens are creatures of habit and territory. I once had 2 Blue Leghorns  who used to sleep in one of the outside rooms. I later got more chickens and these new chickens refused point blank to sleep with the 2 Blue Leghorns in the coop. I had to build a separate temporary coop in the evening in the middle of winter for the new chickens. Then when I wanted to move them to the new structure I erected they wouldn’t leave their old spot. Eventually after much manipulation and chasing and drama I managed to get them to go to where I needed them to go and that problem was solved.

Egg laying

Photo-0029

Some fresh eggs collected this morning. The brown ones are from the Boschveld and Potch Koekoeks and the white egg is from a Blue Leghorn. The taste is a bit more intense and these super-fresh eggs make the best omelettes ever!

 

Egg laying typically starts at about 20 – 30 weeks but it could be earlier or later. The eggs start out small and get bigger as the hens get older. Even if you provide nestboxes the hens may still find other places in your backyard to lay so keep an eye out for surprises. Once we found 20 eggs that they had been hiding. A rooster is not needed for egg production. If you do have a rooster fertilizing some of the eggs they are exactly the same as normal eggs and you won’t notice any difference in taste or appearance but keep them in the fridge to completely halt development of the embryo, just to be on the safe side.

Breeds

The best breeds are hardy indigenous breeds like Rhode Island Red, Boschveld, Leghorn, Potch Koekoek and Wyandotte to name just a few but there are many different breeds.

 

Organic Farming: Comrade Carrot brings veggie might for Obz

by: Sarah Koopman

Comrade Carrot brings delicious farm-to-table ­organic produce to Observatory in Cape Town.

Read more: http://mg.co.za/article/2016-07-01-00-veggie-might-for-obz

Green fingers: Mosima Pale, aka Comrade Carrot, works the land at his smallholding in Philippi. (Wayne Conradie)

Green fingers: Mosima Pale, aka Comrade Carrot, works the land at his smallholding in Philippi. (Wayne Conradie)

 

From their vibey Facebook Page:

Who are we?
We are an intimate Farmers Market and affordable platform for local entrepreneurs such as artists, farmers, chefs and designers to trade and sell and showcase their products.

What do we offer?
– locally grown organic fruit, veg, herbs and pasture-reared eggs
– different types of local food specialities
– natural and preservative free cosmetics
– second hand clothing
– flowers
– coffee

When and Where?
Every Saturday at the OBZ Lifestyle Market in Observatory from 10am to 3pm.

Questions?
Contact molewaskitchen@gmail.com or call Dennis Molewa at 0797865551

 

USDA launches first price report on non-GMO corn and soybeans

The non-GMO feed grade yellow corn average price as of September 23 has been reported at around $3.69-3.93/bushel, and around $4/bushel in early September.  This is compared to December corn futures trading at $3.79-3.83/bushel reported this month.  Non-GMO yellow soybeans were quoted at a cash price range of around $9.64-9.89/bushel, and yellow soybeans futures for November contract delivery are quoted at around $8.84-8.64/bushel.

The report could attract more market for non-GMO grain and in turn, encourage farmers to transition to organic.  The information is based from an undisclosed number of elevators.  AMS doesn’t release the number of entities whose trade data have been used in compiling the report citing confidentiality concerns. At least three trades from three separate entities are required in order for AMS to list an average price for a commodity.

read full article: http://greenchemicalsblog.com/2015/09/24/usda-launches-first-price-report-on-non-gmo-corn-and-soybeans/

Free-range food a can of worms

But Lara Whybrow, who runs an ethical farming website, says the law “is too vague”.

Scott agrees: “There is no such thing as a ‘happy’ chicken; all suffer from birth to death. Although free-range birds might be a little happier than their factory-farmed counterparts, they still live in sheds where as many as 20000 birds are closed in at night.

“I have been to large retailers’ free-range farms and the hens had their toes clipped off, as do factory- farmed birds, and many suffered from bald patches, as do their factory-farmed cousins.”

The CEO of the South African Poultry Association, Kevin Lovell, said: “The only way to really know when you are getting free-range products is to rely on the audit systems of the retailers.”

The Times asked the four major grocery retailers how they determined free-range chicken or beef.

Shoprite, Pick n Pay and Woolworths said they had high standards that animals should be outside during the day. They all have external auditors who check farms that supply the meat. Spar did not respond to queries.

 

read full article: http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2014/06/30/free-range-food-a-can-of-worms