Green Goose Organic Farm Ficksburg
Green Goose Organic Farm Ficksburg.
If you let it, a good farm does two very special things to you.
It connects you to the sense, rhythm and cycle of nature and this connection opens up your heart.
Just remembering our trip to this very special gem of a farm in Ficksburg and going over the photos again, has me feeling a rush of love pouring out from my heart. Just the memories alone remind me of being connected to the wholesome, whole-hearted and nurturing spirit of the great farmers that serve as custodians to the land they nurture.
It always amazes me when I spend time with great farmers like this, that they are always so humble and so unaware of how healing their energy and the energy of the land they look after, is. They are just out there being farmers and so naturally connected to land, to the elements, to the weather, to their animals that they almost can’t see anymore what they have, that we don’t – a natural everyday connection to the ‘more’ of life. Farmers suffer so much too, they battle to make family run farms viable, they all have stories of long years of struggle behind them and to spend time with good farmers is always so humbling for me and deeply affects me. A farmer gets up everyday and looks at his land, thinks about his land, is connected to the weather, how everything connects and affects life. We are so disconnected from this in the cities as we wake up to digital alarm clocks and chase days defined by time and to-do lists. A farmer’s language and connection to life is different, they wake up and their whole day is about the interaction of them and nature.
I always get reminded when I visit good farms of the quiet suffering that knows no name in the cities while we live mostly disconnected from nature and from the sense of a supportive universe this can give. Farmers pay a tough price for trying to make a living on the land while corporations try to push ‘fake farm’ conveyor belt food onto shelves, yet there there is a richness still that farmers live that we miss in the cities.
The Sorour family are a great example of this type of farmer. A warm, whole-hearted family deeply committed to the principles of sustainable agriculture.
Within an hour of arriving, I found myself in intense, meaningful and excited debate about organic agriculture with Reuter Sorour, a committed organic farmer who looks forward to the day when the sustainable farmer is both appreciated and understood. We found ourselves kindred spirits in the our ideas about the place of real food from real farms.
After spending 2 good days there learning about their family, their history and their committed philosophy to their organic dairy farming activities and wild pork farming, I knew I had found another South African Food Hero couple that needs to be put on the map.
Green Goose used to be a fully certified organic dairy farm but gave up the certification when the fees didn’t make sense anymore with the underdeveloped organic market in South Africa.
Now, they farm in exactly the same way, you only need to walk the farm once with Reuter to understand that the core of this man is a deep belief in and philosophy of holistic agriculture. He’s a purist at heart and like all organic purist farmers, they’ve had difficulties to face living in the conflict between farming according to principles they will fight for, yet operating in a context where organic agriculture doesn’t yet have enough consumer support to make their farming practices feasible.
It was such a pleasure to be able to assure Reuter and Anneke that slowly but surely a revolution in Jozi, never mind the rest of South Africa is under-way and that bit by bit the market for produce from family-run pure farms like theirs is only to grow.
That so many of us are desperate to connect to families like them and appreciate them for producing clean food for us.
Our job is to vote with our purses and buy clean produce from sustainable farming heroes like this.
The cows are wholly pastured on this farm with minimal supplementation happening only in Winter months if there isn’t sufficient baled lucerne left from the Summer months. Other than that, Reuter showed me a variety of ‘weed’s and grasses growing on their land that allow him to keep them well nourished on grass for most of the year.
Animals, like on all good family run sustainable farms, are treated well here and respected. I was taken aback at how relaxed the cows were when it came to milking time, that without shouting or calling – they just calmly and gently started rolling in from the hills without any provocation, all happy to be milked, slowly all entering the milking area congregating. No noise, no fuss, just the peace that you feel around contented cows. This is without any grain ‘pudding’ that is often given at milking time to encourage cows to come in. These cows were so relaxed and at ease, they just organize themselves and almost seemed to enjoy being milked. It was quite a sight to see.
As the farm is still run on wholly organic principles despite letting the certification go, there is no supplement feed with antibiotics or growth promoters.
Male calves are not sold or killed, they are raised on the farm into adult life as beef cows. The calves are also raised on the mothers milk, not supplement milk.
There is a beautiful dairy on the farm where Anneke works her magic on the milk from their herds and produces the fine Green Goose cheese range she is slowly developing an incredible reputation for. She’s also one of the nicest, kindest, gentlest, generous, nurturing souls you’ll ever meet to.
Within a day of being there, my son and daughter were so relaxed cradled in the warm atmosphere of the home that spreads out around Anneke, that they didn’t want to leave!
The Ficksburger is perhaps the most famous of all Anneke’s cheese and has won awards for its quality.
The over-riding characteristic of this range, I think, is that they are all mild, family-friendly cheeses.
The fine family is a very gentle all round cheese, great for children and cooking.
The Ficksburger has been described by The Secret Jozi Chef as a mild sort of Taleggio.
There is a cheddar which is also very mild, Asiago – an Italian style cheese and Asiago with cumin, both great for cheese boards.
I am hoping into the future that we can get pork from Green Goose too when Reuter is ready as the pigs raised here are practically wild, wholly grazing on the natural vegetation and untampered with. The bacon I had in their kitchen, smoked on the farm – was quite literally the best I have ever, ever tasted.
Reuter has vowed to work with us going forward to get this very special wild pork – I can’t really say ‘pastured’ because they are left in enclosures so large that they battle to find the pigs – so it’s more than that. I’ll save that story for another day though when Reuter is ready.
This very special family will be heading off to Italy soon, having being invited to attend the Slow Food International gathering as a special contributor to the slow food movement.
Green Goose is another great South African food revolution farm hero.
I am, as ever, so proud to be able to have produce from a farm this special, connected to The Jozi Real Food Revolution.
Their dairy is now in-store and shortly we will be bringing crafts from this farm to the store too as Anneke also makes beautiful down duvets and cushions from the farm.
There are obviously also, no colorants, preservatives or artificial ingredients added to this dairy.
It’s just milk from grass-fed, truly pastured and free range cows reared on a farm run by a family that stands for sustainable farming.
We arrived strangers, we left friends with my children still talking about how comfortable they felt in the beautiful farmhouse.
Anneke has a heart larger than a mountain and to be hosted in her special kitchen means being fed beautiful, wholesome farm fare with a smile and soul.
Green Goose Organic Farm in Ficksburg is another farm I endorse as a Jozi Real Food Revolution Farm and one that I will walk many more miles for and stand behind.
Onwards and Upwards with The Jozi Real Food Revolution – celebrating the best sustainable farms in South Africa.