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Achieving Organic Certification: Our Journey

Achieving Organic Certification: Our Journey

It was always a dream of ours to become organic certified right from the moment we decided to grow back in 2017.  We wanted to grow the best Manuka tea leaf we possibly could. Free from harmful chemicals, the way it would have been in the past.  We started our organic journey right from the get go with certified organic seed raising mix.  The land we planted on had also been pesticide free for over a year.

Choosing an organic certifier 

The agency we firstly joined, is a small organic certification organisation by the name of Organic farm N.Z. They were very helpful with all our questions during the beginning stages of our journey.  We then moved to BIO GRO in 2023 and became fully certified with them.  

Planting 20,000 Mānuka seeds in 2018  (Our first plantation)

Growing Mānuka seedlings by hand is hard work!, I remember how my back ached from the constant bending and planting seeds into pots.  Little did we realise that the hardest struggle was yet to come.  The seedlings grew and in October-November we planted them all by hand.  We were lucky to have two teenage children that helped plant out and get the job done. 

 No pesticides A few weeks after planting we quickly realised we needed solutions around weed control.  We tried a certified organic weed spray but that was not effective.  We went with the good old way of weeding by hand, and that way worked.  I must tell you this job is not for the faint of heart!.

The alpaca and the lawnmower dilemma 

As the Mānuka trees grew we stopped weeding by hand and started mowing between the Mānuka rows with our trusty ride on mower we call Herman.  We had an idea to use alpaca instead of the lawn mower.  After some research on alpaca we purchased two.  Alpaca are known to have no top teeth just bottom ones and they are dainty eaters.  The moment they went into the Mānuka patch they began squatting and lying on the trees, using the small trees as tummy scratchers.  It was a complete disaster they loved the trees for all the wrong reasons. We reverted back to using Herman the lawn mower.

New Ecosystem Our Mānuka plantation has created a new ecosystem.  We have weka birds, peacocks, frogs and spiders that all live amongst the plantation.  When we cut the trees for oil we only give them a light haircut, this leaves plenty of brush for the tree to remain healthy as well as providing a home for the wonderful creatures that have made our organic plantation their safe haven home.

 

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