Charles Edmonds, General Manager of Farming at Boschendal is all about the dirt.
With a mandate that covers oversight of the entire food crop portfolio, he is intensely focused on the land which by all accounts is the true hero of Boschendal and the genesis of everything produced and enjoyed at the iconic estate that supports a diverse and vital living system across all 2000 hectares of South Africa’s most established farm.
No matter where you eat at Boschendal or where you choose to shop, you’ll benefit from this outstanding ethos and eco approach that is thoughtfully evidenced at The Werf and The Deli restaurants, in The Farm Shop and in your picnic baskets. Aside from the sustainable garden that everyone can easily see from the patio at The Werf Restaurant, orchards are producing a number of fruits such as plums, citrus, apples, pears olives and grapes grown for the estate’s superb award-winning wines. As far as livestock is concerned, there is a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle, a sizeable drove of Duroc pigs and a brood of happy hens that are kept solely for egg production, and all are under Charles’ watchful eye. Anything that grows anywhere is his domain.
While Boschendal’s botanical and food gardens benefit from optimum soil health, achieving that status quo and maintaining it requires strategy and the involvement of both two and four-legged teams! An outstanding crew supports Charles, and of the other team members, he explains further.
“Our animals inadvertently work for us as we use a system of rotational grazing over a period of weeks. First, the cattle come in to feed, then chickens come to scratch and scuff and forage for bugs. We shift their coops around so that all parts of the fields and pastures can benefit from their nitrogen-rich droppings.“
Another key initiative is the regeneration project that focuses on preparing and nurturing land earmarked for future food and fruit production. “I look at that process a little differently,” he says. “Normally soil health improvements can take a very long time but I’m doing it ‘on steroids,’” he laughs. Not literally of course but time is of the essence and there are multiple ways to ethically reach the farm’s goals which involve all manner of techniques plus the addition of ingredients like nutrient-rich compost, microbes via irrigation, nematodes, and more. The entire farm is also committed to keeping chemical use to an absolute minimum.
“At Boschendal we are nurturing a symbiotic relationship between plant and soil. We need the earth to be at optimum health before we plough and drop in the seed.”
Exciting news is the planned introduction of multiple new crops, around eight to ten species to boost the already impressive veggie directory. Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems and Boschendal has always excelled at it. The environmental end game is even more dynamic biodiversity, increased resilience to climate change, improved underground water and strengthening topsoil health.
All in all, the Boschendal land is in excellent hands and Charles puts it succinctly: “Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy people.”
You can find these products in our Farm Shop.