Two years in to our organic conversion, and it is time for some reflection. What have we learned? Are we better off?
Our greatest fear was that going organic would overwhelm us with additional weeding. The reality has been that the WWOOF (willing workers on organic farms) scheme has made the transition manageable, and we have met many lovely young people from overseas who are keen to experience our lifestyle and help us out (just a few of them in the pics with this post).
The types of ‘weeds’ that grow under the blueberries and olives have changed to more benign grasses and clovers – which are easier to mow (Olives) or rip out and lay down as mulch (blueberries).
The number of wasps has stabilised at a level where they are not a nuisance, but there are still enough to eat most of the leafroller caterpillars and spiders. Bumblebees love our messy riverbank and tree trimmings and they have provided excellent pollination alongside our bees.
Birds are flourishing in the trees we planted and in spring they protect us from snails eating blueberry leaves, but they have eaten most of our early season berries! Hopefully with nets that fully cover the blueberries this will not be a future problem.
It is too early to tell if the dire predictions of unsustainable olive yields due to fungal disease will come to pass, but we are pruning hard to let light in, and we are saving on costs by not spraying fungicides twenty times per year.
So we can safely say we are no worse off than before. The blueberries have suffered no lack of production. Fertilisers cost more, but we have made savings on herbicides (we never sprayed non-organic pescticides or fungicides).
We feel better about the ecosystem we are caretaking, and the health benefits of our produce. And that is worth a lot.
Waikawa Blueberries and Waikawa Glen Olive Oil are under conversion with OrganicFarmNZ with OrganicFarmNZ