Gillian O’Shea started Terra Madre SA in October 2012 because she was frustrated with not being able to purchase clean food. “As a Specialised Kinesiologist, I was also learning more and more the about the impact of our bad diet on our health, never mind the impact of our farming methods on the planet.”
It’s my opinion that consumers and large retailers are also at fault because they want the best looking produce at the lowest rates so the farmers are forced to resort to the current ways in which they farm for high yield at lowest cost. Terra Madre SA caters for the consumer that is after good quality, clean food which has been farmed sustainably. “Something to think about – if insects don’t want to take a bite out of a fruit or vegetable, then maybe you shouldn’t either.”
“We form part of a collective of permaculture and organic growers in Gauteng.” Terra Madre SA supplies customers in Gauteng with a selection of seasonal, locally grown vegetables and fruit, as well as other items like raw cow and goat’s milk, cheeses, and free range, hormone free meat.
“People wanting to purchase our products can subscribe to our mailing list or get the weekly updated lists from our website. We deliver every Thursday and Friday.”
Gillian goes on to say, “Our growers don’t use harmful pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. Your veg is picked the day before so it does not hang around in brightly lit display fridges wrapped in plastic packaging, nor is it transported back and forth to central distribution facilities, adding to our carbon footprint problem. Our meat is all free range and we do not feed our animals’ hormones or animal by-products.”
Other products include honey, Kombucha, jams, artisan breads, herb teas etc. depending on what’s in season.
“We endeavour to play our part in recycling and minimizing waste and in so doing encourage our customers to supply us with their used wine bottles which we sterilise and use for our Kombucha, used egg boxes which we then reuse for packing our free range eggs each week and glass jars for items like fig preserve, honey, herb teas etc.
Their delivery boxes are made out of wattle by Gilbert, a local hawker in Irene. “We try and support local small businesses as far as possible.”
Terra Madre SA supports local and the Slow Food principles.
Gillian did her PDC with Hazel Mugford from Permaculture South Africa in the Eastern Cape where she learnt the valuable principles of Bill Mollison, David Holmgren. Hazel and her team Andrew and Randy are wonderful facilitators and share the experience and knowledge that they have learnt and picked up through years of trial and error and just following the permaculture principles. Hazel also owns Hazels Organic Country Kitchen in Addo, where she serves fresh organic produce. A must of you are ever in the Eastern Cape.
She has also attended a few weekend workshops with John Nzira, founder of Ukuvuna Urban Farming. John received his Permaculture training in Zimbabwe at Fambidzanai Permaculture Institute and further training with Bill Mollison the founder of Permaculture in the late 1980s.
John has been instrumental in the permaculture movement in South Africa, assisting government and has received many awards including a Silver Gilt award with International Chelsea Flower Show in London. John is one of the suppliers to Terra Madre SA.
Why organic and permaculture?
Quite simply, the alternative is greatly negatively impacting our soil and our health and our planet. Pesticides and fertilizers are effecting our soil and therefore our health. For example, in May 2010, scientists from the University of Montreal and Harvard University released a study that found that exposure to pesticide residues on vegetables and fruit may double a child’s risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that can cause inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in children. Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health hazards, ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to chronic impacts like cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption. http://www.toxicsaction.org/problems-and-solutions/pesticides
Our meat farming methods are something consumers know about but turn a blind eye to because they don’t want to be reminded of it. South Africans love their meat! I am not saying don’t consumer meat – but do it with a clear conscience. Don’t support inhumane farming methods like ‘factory farming’ feedlots and battery raised chickens. www.peta.org
Gillian also serves fresh organic faire at Penny Black in Irene once a month. We have such a wonderful variety of vegetables available to us in South Africa but only a few are sold commercially. I try and introduce some of these on the evenings I cook. http://irenetradingpost.wozaonline.co.za/PENNY+BLACK