Farming in nature...

Posted under Eco-Tourism Blog by Grootbos on 11th March 2011

At Growing the Future we do vegetable production on a small piece of land in the middle of Grootbos Nature Reserve. Farming among the pristine fynbos brings a whole lot of new challenges from nature. We have created an open piece of land with an abundance of food for the animals neighbouring us. Although we have an electric fence surrounding the property, the animals still find a way through or over it. We have a resident flock of mousebirds who just love tomatoes and all sorts of fruit. Quite a number of mice have made the garden their home. They love seeds, especially spinach or beetroot. They have a very good sense of smell and will scratch the seed out from under the ground, row after row. We sometimes lose up to eighty percent of our plantings in this way.

Then there are the porcupines! Their speciality in our garden is the sweet potatoes and broccoli. Looking at the beautiful vegetables one can understand why they go through so much trouble, digging underneath the electric fence, to get to their favourites! Although they are slow and adorable the tortoises will stop at nothing to get to the delicious red strawberries; taking a bite of our lettuces! The moon landscape we sometimes see in our garden is the work of a number of moles tunnelling their way under the plants. This leaves the roots exposed and the plants usually wilt and slowly die. I won’t even mention all the insects visiting us!

We are farming on a nature reserve and as such we accommodate certain animals. We do try to actively work with nature to keep pest numbers down like putting up bat boxes to attract bats to eat the insects and to put up owl nests to attract owls to keep the mouse population down. It is all about creating a balance and accepting that we are farming in nature’s territory! 

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