Broadleaze Organic Farm Pietermaritzburg

We grow salad items, herbs and vegetables. Organic Red Grass Hay

Organic certification: BDOCA130G

About The Farmer

My name is Rob Symons. I live in Pietermaritzburg, kwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. MuthiMuthi is my Zulu nickname which means “tall tree”. I am an Organic Farmer and an environmentalist.
I live and work on Broadleaze Farm in the Mkondeni valley on the eastern outskirts of Pietermaritzburg.

 

The seeds of freedom…(about the CRITICAL importance of organic seed saving)

By Rob Symons

This is my 40th article in the Mercury Food and Wine supplement. This article also appeared on the site, Verdant Life

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KwaZulu Natal and the the Eastern Cape are characterised by deep-cut river valleys that flow down to the sea from the mountains. Each valley tends to have its own regional climate and soil conditions. Each valley also has its own unique variety of maize grown by the community who live there.

These varieties are have adapted to the specific conditions found in their valley. They have been selectively bred by the farmers who live there and the seeds have been passed down through generations. These are heirloom seeds and sadly their existence is threatened.

Seed companies are aggressively marketing their patented varieties of maize which are bred especially for large scale chemical, intensive agriculture. Small scale farmers are seduced into purchasing this seed and, as a result are starting to neglect the traditional varieties and placing them on the endangered list.

The effect of this is not only the loss of generations of accumulated genetic heritage, but also the loss of control and ownership of the communities and farmers over their own food. I have myself started to experience this loss of freedom in the crops that I grow.

Not so long ago there was a wide variety of lettuce seed that was available from suppliers in the quantities needed by the farm. Salad packs have been one of my core products and I have always been proud of their quality. Our focus was on the growing of the lettuce from seed to harvest, so we left the business of seed production to the seed suppliers.

However, recently there has been a change in the supply of seed. Prices have risen and the number of varieties available has dropped. A new development has been pelleted seeds which cannot be planted on an organic farm due to incorporation of chemicals into the seed pellet.

These pellets have been developed for large scale nurseries that use planting machines. As a result of these developments the choice that I have as a farmer is very limited. If we are to retain freedom over the crops that we grow, organic farmers must look to saving our own seed.

We need to select heirloom varieties that grow well in our areas and start collecting seed.

It was an amazing experience when I first collected my own rocket seed. What blew me away was how much we collected, 25 kilograms in total. That saved me a lot in time and money, but above all it gave me a great feeling of freedom and independence.

On a food-stressed continent the freedom and independence of the food supply is critical. Every effort must be made to preserve traditional seed varieties and to encourage communities to take control by saving their own seed.

Broadleaze Organic Farm Pietermaritzburg
200 Murray Road
Pietermaritzburg South Africa
Phone: 033 396 3344
Email: rob@broadleaze.co.za

Apply to Join the Agri Investment Group

Firstly, this is not a massive investment fund. This is my personal initiative and is funded by me, I already fund all the costs related to Ethical Suppliers and Open Education Centre. This initiative is really for the poorest of the poor who have practically nothing and need a helping hand to get somewhere.  

I used to be a chicken and pecan nut farmer a few years ago and had to quit because of family issues with the property. So yes, I have experience in farming, as well as an education site for farmers, Open Education Centre

From a little seed we can grow big things. Nature has all the means by which we can grow our money and farming is a way to do this while at the same time providing food for families and communities. 

I will buy most of the starter stock eg seeds and chicks, saplings, and so on. Watering costs will not be covered but we will try reduce water consumption as far as possible with the use of mulch and other methods to keep costs down. 

You will need to fetch the stock from the supplier if I cannot have it delivered, prepare the earth, sow the seed, water/irrigate and generally manage all day to day operations. If you are in Pretoria I will assist with the manual labour.

For the chicken farm you will need to construct a simple roosting perch from sticks and a simple hut with a basic door which can close at night. This can all be done with wood and salvaged materials. No floor needed, sand floors are best and I will explain why later. Eggs need to be collected daily and a small percentage of the eggs need to be marked and  left in their clutches in the hope that broody hens will hatch them out. We are trying to breed broodiness back in as this is in accordance with natural and humane principles. 

Once the operation turns profitable and I have recouped 200% of my total investment I will withdraw.

Remember – this is NOT a get rich quick scheme, this is only for individuals who share the same principles of ethical, eco friendly and humane farming. Profits will only start coming in after a few months, sometimes even up to a year or two, it all depends on what we are farming. 

Think about ways that you can “pay it forward”, eg seed donations etc, because this principle is extremely important. 

If all this excites you and you want to be part of the group please continue the application process below. I know it is long and tedious but I really want to get to know you a little better as we will be working closely together and I want to make sure we are a good fit :) 

If you would like to help fund the initiative please contact info@ethicalsuppliers.co.za or 071 484 5295. 

Personal Details
Large garden
Communal land
Large plot
I don't have any land
Other
Chicken farming
Fruit and Vegetables
Nuts
Maize
Medicinal Plants
Herbs
Other (please add details below)