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Farm: Aloe Dale


Philosophy
  • Natural Farming Methods:
    • No pesticides or artificial fertilizers
    • Use systems to harvest water run-off, minimise water waste/evaporation , re-use clean waste-water
    • Improve soil quality with compost made on-site
    • Encourage wildlife in and around our growing areas which assists with “pest” control, soil aeration and pollination.
  • Local
    • Support other small farmers and growers. We believe that everyone can (and should) grow food – even if it’s just sprouting seeds in jars on their kitchen counter! We try to provide a market for growers who do not have facilities to store, clean, pack and distribute their produce.

Our History

Aloe Dale emerged in early 2008 out of a simple desire to grow as much of the food consumed by our household as we could, in a sustainable and organic manner.
Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of following my grandfather around his veggie patch, “helping” him to make compost, plant beans and pick tomatoes. We would then enjoy Sunday lunch which included whatever we had picked in the morning.
I also remember a favourite game as a child was to go around my parents’ sub-urban garden and count all the different fruit trees, I still remember there were Mulberry, Litchi, orange, lemon, loquat, paw-paw, guava, granadilla, banana, avocado and uthungulu… aside from 2 backyard layers, and a small, seasonal veggie patch which I remember watering with rainwater during the KZN droughts in the 1980’s.
As I watched my mother in the kitchen I saw fresh herbs being used daily, they were just a normal part of our meals and I was often sent out into the garden to pick “3 trees” of curly parsley for a sauce, chives for an egg sandwich, rosemary for a lamb stew or sage for the roast chicken… I guess growing food just feels normal to me and even when I left my parents’ house and lived in a flat in Durban, I grew tomatoes and herbs in pots in the enclosed balcony and begged a small un-used patch of ground from the owner of the block so that I could plant green beans and chard.
2003: I bought, at a bargain, a house on 10ha of land with river frontage on the Mlazi River, half-way between Pietermaritzburg and Hillcrest. We still hold “Ebony Acres” where we are now slowly expanding our growing operations.
2007: Shortly after relocating home-base to Johannesburg we found a house on a small, neglected piece of land in Midrand. Here we naturally started a small vegetable and herb garden which grew exponentially – it was natural for us to do and I insisted we do it naturally. Within a year my husband agreed that the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides was unnecessary as the bird-life, natural predators like frogs, snakes, spiders and ladybirds were flourishing and we had an excess of healthy organic produce. Despite giving vegetables away to friends and family, we always seemed to have more than enough.
2008: I began marketing our excess to a local reseller, and the rest, as they say, is history! We continue to encourage small-scale, holistic, polycultural agronomy by supporting local, sustainable growers: these include households (because everyone should grow food!) who produce a small excess for which they would not otherwise have a market, to NGO-run organic agricultural programs.


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