Organic farming

What’s the fuss about organic produce?

I went out to the Heritage (organic) Garden to see if I could get my hands on some rocket, limes and aubergines and found Paul, the gardener delicately wiping down the leaves of the aubergine plants. As much as I love my organic produce, I sometimes take for granted how much extra care goes into organic farming, especially when it comes to pest control.

At Nature Seychelles Heritage (organic) Garden, various non-chemical methods are used to control pests in the garden. For instance, the recently mounted yard sentinel strobe, a humane and chemical-free way to get rid of pests. The device which was generously donated by one of Nature Seychelles partners, Jean-Paul Geffroy, uses ultrasonic technology as well as sonic alarm noise and strobe lights to repel pests. Another eco-friendly idea, also suggested and used at Geffroy’s farm in Anse Royale is using recycled bright plastic pieces smeared with grease to trap insects.

Robin applying neem to aubergine plants at the Heritage (organic) Garden
Robin applying neem to aubergine plants at the Heritage (organic) Garden

“We also use neem oil extract in the Heritage (organic) Garden” explains Robin Hanson, Nature Seychelles’ eco-health coordinator. “Neem has naturally occurring pesticidal properties. We use concentrated neem oil, and even though it is safe to eat it with no negative effects, you have to be careful with it just as you are with essential oils on your skin. Hence the protective clothing and mask while spraying.”

Organic farming is a form of agriculture which apart from applying biological pest control, also relies on using compost, crop rotation and green manure rather than pesticides and other forms of chemicals. Chemical pest control methods are not selective in their eradication of other sacrificial insects and organisms that are not necessarily harmful to crops and the health of the soil.

Fresh lime being harvested at the Heritage (organic) Garden
Fresh lime being harvested at the Heritage (organic) Garden

“The yield is higher with industrialised farming but the cost to our health and the environment is far higher,” explains Robin. “The harsh chemicals can have residual effects on plants especially if applied by a not very well trained person.”

The man hours and cost that goes into organic farming is high compared to the more industrialised form of agriculture that relies heavily on harmful chemicals for pest control. With the additional advantage of literally stepping out of the office onto the Heritage (organic) Garden, there’s great value to having access to fresh organic vegetables, fruits and herbs.

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