We have been growing organically for over 20 years, during this time we have worked towards a natural balance that sustains abundant crops and wildlife. Organic farming is, for us, so much more than no artificial fertilisers and pesticides. Good, tasty fresh vegetables come from what we put into the farm; the compost, crops of clover to build soil fertility and the tress, hedges and flowering herbs that attract beneficial insects and wildlife.
Northdown Orchard is certified organic by the Soil Association. We started conversion to organic in 1991 and sold the first organic crops in 1994. Conversion began with growing green manure crops that built soil fertility and organic matter. We planted trees and hedgerows to encourage bio-diversity. When we started growing crops we suffered flea beetle on cabbages, aphids (green, white and black fly), red spider mite on cucumbers and aubergines. We used biological controls (beneficial insects that control pests) to try to keep up. As the farm has matured so the balance of pest and predator has evolved and now controls have to be rarely introduced.
The Soil Association inspects the farm, all our accounts and records every year. We have to keep records of all seeds, plants and compost used. The inspector will carry out audits looking at the life of sample crops from purchase of seeds, use of compost, crop rotation, any pest problems, planting and harvesting dates, to quantity harvested and sold.