Organic conscience

THE REAL THING: Nigel Martin says his strawberries taste like strawberries. Photo Sven Carlsson OB4051-01

ORGANIC grower Nigel Martin says he likes to know that what he produces is healthy for people and that the food tastes like it should.

Nigel’s main crop on his Galatea Road property, Martin’s Ark, is an old-fashioned variety of strawberry.

His plants are grown from 20 original plants which he says are no longer available. He sells his spray-free strawberries locally through New World, Kawerau; Produce Patch, Matata; Michelle’s Health and Nutrition, Whakatane; and at local markets.

He also grows sweetcorn, watermelon, rockmelon, courgette, kamo kamo, squash and cucumber and has a wide range of animals, which include rabbits, guinea pigs, turtles, deer, a miniature horse, donkeys, goats, alpacas, emus, ostriches, chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, cattle, and a couple of pet deer.

His “ark” makes a popular outing for school and preschool groups. The Martin’s Ark farm is in the process to become certified organic.

“We have been growing spray-free for nine years and we’re currently waiting to see what our certification level will be.”

Nigel says keeping it real is a conscience choice for him. “Non-organic bananas are treated to ripen,” he says. “So are the Australian tomatoes, which are green when they arrive. The tomatoes that come in are the size of an apple but they taste like a lemon.”

Nigel says quality New Zealand produce is often exported. “Then they import crap to feed us,” he says. “If it’s not growing on a tree in our own country, why are we eating it?”

Since stopping to use commercial fertilisers Nigel’s farm produces fewer weeds. However, he says having weeds in a paddock for the cows were not a problem. “A paddock should have weeds, they all have a purpose.”

Nigel says all the family’s meat and vegetables are produced on the farm. “Why do we have

Australian meat in our supermarkets?” he asks.

This year has been a hard year, due to the weather. “I am hoping for a late crop,” he says.