Broadleaze Organic Farm
Nora Choveaux and Rob Symons are two passionate environmentalists whose love for nature and food have converged in the form of an organic farm in Pietermaritzburg. They sell organic herbs and organic salads at no extra cost in retail stores.
Website www.broadleaze.co.za Phone +27 33 3963344 Mobile +27 82 495 6249 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Story by Deni Archer
A marriage of nature and food
Nora Choveaux and Rob Symons are two passionate environmentalists whose love for nature and food have converged in the form of an organic farm in Pietermaritzburg. When they met in the 1990s they didn’t have a farm, but Nora had a wonderful permaculture garden and Rob had valuable knowledge from the hotel industry. They decided to start a business distributing organics. In 2000 they had the opportunity to rent Broadleaze farm, and soon thereafter they bought it. It is now a BDOCA certified organic farm specialising in salad and herbs.
Making organics accessible
They’re not just any organic farm though - they have a strong vision and a mission to match. “It disturbs me greatly that organic food is perceived to be elitist,” says Rob. “My mission is to compete with conventional produce and make organics available to everyone.” That’s exactly what they’re doing. If you walk into one of the ten Foodlovers Markets Broadleaze supplies, you’ll find organic herbs and salads at no extra cost. And the quality exceeds that of the conventional produce too - this is illustrated by the fact that Rob has retail order demands far exceeding what he can presently supply.
You are what you eat
As passionate activists, Rob and Nora believe that food is the perfect medium through which to educate the public on health and environmental issues, as “food is a fundamental source of enjoyment and community”. “And of course,” Rob says, “you are what you eat.” In addition to his farming responsibilities, Rob writes a monthly column for the Mercury, and Nora is active with the Preservation of Mkondeni Mpushini Biodiversity Trust. They also run a nursery at the farm and Rob sells some of the seedlings and plants at the Karkloof Market in the Midlands.
Animal, vegetable, mineral
Broadleaze Farm is 170 hectares, the majority of which is wild savanna, forest and grassland. Rob and Nora are committed to land stewardship and their vision for the farm is to create an agroecological model encompassing “the animal, vegetable and mineral working together synergistically”. Rob is very focused on seed saving and he finds that most of the heirloom varieties he plants adapt very well to changing weather conditions, probably due to their broad genetic diversity. They don’t use any organic sprays or fertilizers, preferring to harness nature’s natural forces. “The ducks, Hadedas, and Guinea fowl are part of our pest control crew,” laughs Rob, who believes that working with nature’s own rhythms helps to support plant health. He likes to minimise problems by planting things at the right time.
Ultimately Rob and Nora would like Broadleaze to become part of a community supporting model, like those in Cuba. For now, their farm is open to visitors who are free to see how the organic farm is managed and enjoy the beauty.
In the fields at Broadleaze Organic Farm. These salads and herbs go to retail stores in the area, and are sold at the same price as conventional salads.
A member of the bug control crew at work...
...and some at play
Bees. An important part of any farm's ecosystem.
The nursery. Saplings and other plants are sold at the Karkloof Market.
Broadleaze supplies the following retail outlets
Food Lovers Market Ballito 032 946 3762
Broadleaze supplies the following wholesalers for supply to the catering trade
African Fruit Orchard 033 3942112
Dhodas 033 342 2786
Chuck and Bobs (Dbn and Highway)
Simon Hemingway 082 565 7545
Karkloof Farmers Market
Howick, on Karkloof Road. Saturdays 7am - 11am
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