Growing organically in Lorinna

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Growing organically in Lorinna

April 2016

THE FIELDS of Belgium are now a long way from Wouter Sel’s new home in Tasmania’s isolated community of Lorinna.

Since moving to the valley in 2013, Wouter has helped transform his partner’s farm into a certified organic enterprise, having achieved ACO* and TOP** status in January 2016.

Elyse Acacia and Wouter grow a wide variety of vegetables which are currently available locally at the Farmers’ Market in Launceston and at outlets around the state. He also operates an online shop and delivers orders to pick-up points, statewide.

The distance to markets in Tasmania is a lot further than in Belgium. Wouter says there are climate similarities which dictate some of the practices and crops.

He believes the biggest advantage on Seven Springs Farm is that it has never been used for conventional agriculture, so there are no pesticide residues in the soil.

And the tyranny of distance is offset by chillers that are used to keep produce cool on-farm while refrigerated transport makes all the deliveries.

In a few short years, Wouter has built fences to reduce wildlife pressure; excavated access to the growing fields; remineralised the soil; built terraces to utilise the slope and capture solar heat; dug a well to ensure a reliable supply of water for washing produce and irrigating the fields, and constructed a large greenhouse.

Wouter uses both tried and tested methods of farming as well as some ancient techniques that nurture, maintain, protect and increase soil health.

His holistic approach includes the use of biochar, tree planting, a wide diversity of crops, and closed crop canopy with poly-farming and interplanted crops.

These methods improve the structure of the soil and its ability to hold water.

Seven Springs Farm’s holistic approach is designed to generate the farm’s own inputs.

This includes saving of seeds and use of animals for grazing and manure and, ultimately, the production of organically-certified fleece.

Looking ahead, Wouter is planning regular open days so consumers can develop a relationship with the farm.

*ACO (Australian Certified Organic).

**TOP (Tasmanian Organic & Bio-Dynamic Produce).

Mike Moores