sa goes organic

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-03-26 11:18

Tired of waiting for the government to stop dragging its heels about the organics industry in South Africa, David Wolstenholme has been the main force behind creating a sustainable organics programme – the Organic Freedom Project (OFP) – that promises to provide jobs, free South Africans from poverty, provide a food supply that will go a long way towards combating Aids, and be a viable export programme – no mean feat!

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited by the news – and Wolstenholme and his colleagues have been really clever about it too. They’ve got Pick ‘n Pay - who are aggressively focused on the organic market sector - and Anglo Coal - who are using this opportunity to create new jobs for miners after mine closures and on retirement, as well has rehabilitating land that was formerly used for mining (just in case your eyes had widened at their choice of sponsor, as had mine) – to co-sponsor the programme.

Jody Scheckter (he of formula one fame) is to chair the non-profit organisation. Get a good ‘front man’, with international cloutJody is one of the top five organic beef and dairy farmers in the UK – and your vision is bound to become reality!

OFP intends to ‘free South Africans from chemical dependency and poverty through the promotion of commercially sustainable organic production’ and these guys aren’t wasting any time - they’ve already started facilitating ventures.

Their aim is to identify and activate around 20 000 hectares for emerging farmer development, divided into geographical zones, and includes organic farming training and consulting with ongoing mentorship. OFP intends to create 100 zones within 7 years – many of which have already been identified.

Daivd Wolstenholme, best known to the organic world in SA as the guy behind the Natural & Organic annual exhibition that moves between Johannesburg and Cape Town, was involved in launching the Da Gama Cotton Project, a nine-site cotton-growing initiative in 2003, together with colleague Heinrich Schultz, to empower cotton growing in the Eastern Cape. [business report] This project paved the way for the Organic Freedom Project.

OFP have joined forces with the Royal House of Tshivhase, in the Limpopo province, to grow tea and other produce organically [zoutnet] and Great Brak, which is busy reviving itself as an eco-tourist village, has partnered with OFP to help emerging farmers to produce organic vegetables [the herald]

One of the key projects of OFP is bio-diesel. I’m still in two minds about bio-diesel, particularly because of the tendency to grow vast monoculture crops at the expense of the land, but the OFP bio-diesel model is an organic model that grows food as a central part of the bio-diesel process.

The project will alternate organic soy, canola and sunflower crops in winter and summer, respectively. As a result, soil will be able to re-hydrogenate, and the crops are cost effective, compared to maize.

They’re also using the soy for food products, organic textile production and the by-products for organic cattle feed. [pick ‘n pay]

David Wolsteholme was inspired to start OFP by the huge success of a Brazilian bio-diesel and organic initiative that created a million new jobs for ‘shack dwellers’ over a four-year period and the ‘Nine Seeds’ organic programme in India. [se shows & events]

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