Saturday, November 27

Healthy soil makes vegan farmers happy


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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Sharing produce and cultivating knowledge is at the core of Vanya Maw’s agricultural philosophy. He has run Wyenova Organics in Canterbury since 1992 and proudly grows almost anything that is edible.

Vanya and her husband Ivan bought the 50-hectare property in 1985. Before that, they had a sheep and crop farm near Methven.

Going organic was something he had always wanted to do on a grand scale.

“I was always organic in my garden and I always grew my own food and my dad, he didn’t put anything (chemical) in his gardens and I didn’t want that,” she says.

After several years, all the paddocks on the farm had obtained organic farming certification.

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

An opportunity to grow presented itself for Wattie’s in Christchurch.

“I was really over the moon,” she says. “There were peas, beans, buckwheat, lentils, corn, a lot grown for Watties, but this ended when they moved their frozen organic plant to the North Island.”

Since then, Vanya has been supplying the local market with its organic vegetables, fruits and nuts.

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

She also manages some self-shedding Wiltshire sheep. They keep the grass low and lead a pretty good life.

“My other sheep … died, but some of them were over 22 years old … they never took a single shower and were incredibly healthy!”

At one end of the fertile property, a once bare pasture has been turned into a thriving native reserve. Vanya has been developing it for almost 20 years.

He planted the first cabbage tree in 2004.

“I used to buy the two dollar specials at the nursery on the way home, on the way home from the market, so most trees cost two dollars!”

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

An organic farming system is working in orchards and gardens to stimulate the microbial life necessary for soil fertility.

The insects thrive in compost mounds built around the trunks of all fruit and nut trees.

“Piles of wood slowly decompose and provide a beautiful home for lizards, skinks, earwigs, slates and beetles,” he says.

Vanya shares what grows with an open heart. Everyone who visits the Wyenova farm goes home with an armful of freshly harvested produce.

It also ships seeds and cuttings from its inherited trees to enthusiastic growers across the country.

“I live in heaven / paradise,” he says. “You know what we do to the earth we do to ourselves, so everyone should think about that and honor and treat the earth with such respect.”

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

A cork oak at Vanya Maw's farm

A cork oak at Vanya Maw’s farm
Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes


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