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A Farm in the Kouga

by Ray Conterio

FILED IN: Issue 20 · Sustainability

So, spring caught us by surprise in this beautiful environment, not only with blazing hot weather, but also blossoms on our almond trees, birds and bees in the air and the pink heather on the hillsides fading to make way for new floral wonders. We’d been having so much fun doing as we pleased on a day to day basis, i.e. making soap for our future orders for November and December as we wanted to have plenty of stock before we got down to some serious marketing.

Also fixing fences (an endless job on a farm), sourcing organic seeds for our vegi garden (the only seeds we could find were from our friends at Berg-en-Dal eco-village near Ladismith), looking for Comfrey plants, earthworms for a worm farm and some more fruit trees for our orchard. We already had 4 almond trees, 6 apricot trees and 1 apple tree which had survived three years of neglect prior to our arrival and were looking non the worse for wear.

Last but not least, we also went on some beautiful outrides on horseback to explore the area. So by this stage, the end of September came and we decided we wanted to order another 45 fruit trees, another 10 apricot, 15 almond, 10 peach, and 10 olive trees. We were also advised by the farmers in the area that it was too late to plant fruit trees but we decided to take our chances! (I’m finding it exceedingly difficult to concentrate on writing this as the family is arguing about the scissors which is missing, that nobody used and nobody saw, but somebody wants, thank goodness it seems to have been resolved with no blood loss!).

We ordered the trees from a Cape Town based nursery which delivered them to the nearby town of Louterwater. The day we got the news that the trees had arrived, we cleared out the back of the bakkie to make space for our load of 45 trees which were waist height and we assumed would be in black planter bags. We rounded up our three girls to come with us to help and set off in great spirits on a glorious sunny morning, anticipating our little orchard of bagged trees awaiting our arrival. Half an hour later we arrive at Louterwater, only to be handed a bundle of sticks, open rooted and tied together, which could be picked up with one hand! (the olive trees were in bags).

They also contained instructions to be planted immediately, so off we zoomed back home to go and dig 45 holes, 1m deep and 60cm wide, with bounceback at the bottom and kraal manure mixed in. Talk about thrown in the deep-end of digging, especially in a family of 4 females and 1 male! Well in two days the trees were all in, and in spite of blisters and sore backs, our new orchard meant being just a little bit closer to being self-sufficient… yay!

Now I just wish lightening would strike our Escom power box and force us out of our comfort zone and into a new challenge (my wife looks nervously at her washing machine!) We are surviving (mostly!) without Pick ‘n Pay and after looking at pictures of organic vegetable gardens in books and magazines for the last 2 years, we can now look with pride at our own raised vegibeds full of food! Till next time, the Conterio family.

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1 Comment »

  1. How do I contact them - I have an Organic Shop in JHB and would like to stock African Bliss? Many, many thanks, Dominique

    Comment by Dominique

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