Alice and her partner Jock have lived on their Henley property for 20 years.
Alice is a member of the Otago Organics group, whose members gain organic certification under the ORGANICFARMNZ scheme. Otago Organics is the local organisation that administers the national scheme.
This certification scheme takes three years during which growers go through a conversion process to gain organic certification. It is a rigorous process whereby applicants complete documentation checklists which are then used as reference documents when peers visit annually. These verified checklists go off to the certification manager with a local auditor checking them against what is happening at the property every year.
Alice is very chemically sensitive and after becoming ill decided she needed to grow her own food. She learnt about organic growing through doing extensive research and attending workshops over the years. She adheres to bio-dynamic and permaculture principles and has worked hard to build the soil up on her property from what was basically clay.
Alice’s aim was to have a big, sustainable home garden selling any surplus to others. In this aim she has been very successful, with a great plethora of vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, fruit trees, saffron (and beautiful roses from which she makes potpourri), all flourishing in an idyllic setting.
The site does have its challenges though with much of the property is being low lying and vulnerable to late frosts. The proximity of the Taieri river means that the property can flood and Alice gives considerable attention to providing good drainage for her plants. She has woofers to help on the property over the growing season.
The Otago Organics stall at the Otago Farmers Market mostly sells surplus from Alice’s garden and she knows what sells well. Fruit goes very well and she likes to have interesting vegetable varieties on offer as well. She likes heritage varieties as they are often more pest resistant and have better flavour. She makes aromatic, health bearing herbal teas and a very popular salad mix.
Other members of the group are free to sell their surplus at the Otago Organics stall as well. Dennis Enright, from Mosgiel, occasionally sells potatoes.