Liz, owner of Blue Sky Organics
Blue Sky Organics situated in Van Wyksdorp, in the klein Karoo
Liz makes and sells olive oil, table olives, chutneys, stuffed olives and tapenade from the olives. The olive leaves are dried and used in healthy teas, combined with rooibos, honeybush and other products. These are exported overseas. And she sells a range of health capsules containing olive leaf, which are sold in health shops. So the leaves of pruned trees are therefore used in health products. Olive Cuttings from olive branches are used to propagate olive trees and are sold in Liz’s nursery, where she stocks and sells a range of indigenous plants and herbs. And other waste is used in the process of making more compost. Liz says, “We do our agri-processing really well now. Nothing is wasted. Organic and re-generative farming is a zero waste process”
In order to meet this demand, Liz started giving training courses on her farm. Between 5 and 15 people attend these courses once a month (and in winter once every two months) – an intensive three-day training on principles related to the sustainable use of natural resources. “Many people wanted to grow their own food, and to farm organically but there is little information out there. How do you build a compost heap? There are lots of different options but which is correct?. So it’s easy to come where compost is made, see it being made and understand why to make it.”
Liz finds most of her trainees are farmers, farmworkers, others involved in agriculture, including Department of Agriculture officials, and even people looking to start their own gardens. “On the first morning, I give them the bad news. We talk about climate change and the global health crisis. And show them that farming sustainably is now essential to do. We don’t have a choice anymore. And farmers respond well to it, especially having the theory and practical aspects happening together, and implement it in their activities.”
The way forward for Liz? “All of The things you do in life train you for what you’re eventually going to use your skills for – for the greater good. No knowledge is wasted, and no time is wasted. My long and varied journey has brought me to this place and I’m utterly convinced I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. The timing is perfect.”
Economic benefits – going organic:
Liz warns farmers and potential farmers to not opt for the organic approach, simply to make more money. “Don’t move to organic because you think
you’ll make more money. It’s a hard journey. You have to first get the toxins out of the soil, eco-systems healed, micro-organisms back into the soil and balance brought back. You have to be determined – there’s no quick fix.” Still, Liz has been able to show that going the organic route can still be profitable – and she’s done this with success. She has seen similar success with large commercial farms that stopped using chemicals and stopped tilling their lands.
The success of her business has allowed her to employ nine full-time staff on the farm, while she supports 15 additional workers throughout the year. Many of her staff have been with her for many years.
Beyond the farm:
But Liz’s reach stretches well beyond her farm borders. Liz is a founding member of Conservation at Work (initially called the Cape Stewardship Association) eight years ago. Today Conservation at Work works with 87 conservancies in the Western Cape, representing around 2000 landowners. “Our work is to assist them on all levels that we can with conservation education training, supplying them with training. We also assist them to form a conservancy and work closely with Cape Nature in this process
Upskilling others on her farm:
With Liz actively living the organic way, people started to listen – and to see the results on her Buffelshoek Farm. “I started to talk about it and heal the land. The place started getting greener, and people came to the farm to see what was happening to transform it. So I did tours to show people that it was Nature doing what she does best- letting life live. All we have to do is manage the incredible natural systems already in place” But soon Liz realised that tours weren’t enough to meet the growing demand for her immense knowledge and experience.
In order to meet this demand, Liz started giving training courses on her farm. Between 5 and 15 people attend these courses once a month (and in winter once every two months) – an intensive three-day training on principles related to the sustainable use of natural resources.
BLUE SKY OWN NURSERY
BLUE SKY OWN NURSERY
PROUD TEAM MEMBER
SOIL MAKING IN PROGRESS
TEAM MEMBERS AT FESTIVAL
RELAXING ACCOMMODATION ON THE FARM