Farmers share secrets

By Patrick O'Sullivan

Farming skills practised in Hawke's Bay have been modelled in northern India by Hohepa farm manager Grant Hughes and organics tutor Rachel Pomeroy.

They were invited to India by the charity cbm (formerly Christian Blind Mission) which is working with a Catholic Church social services programme.

They helped to teach local farmers, including those with disabilities, sustainable organic farming practices.

"They were farming using conventional agriculture and having pretty bad results," Mr Hughes said.

"They had actually already started growing organics but biodynamics could help them even more."

Mr Hughes took annual leave for the two-week project, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Sustainable Farming Fund.

Both have worked with Hohepa Hawke's Bay for the last 20 years. Hohepa Homes was formed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining home schools for the curative education and social therapy of children, young persons and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Mr Hughes manages Hohepa's 200 acre farm where their own produce is also sold. Many of the residents work on the farm in helping cultivate the land, manage animals and help produce their award-winning cheeses.

Ms Pomeroy is a tutor for the Biodynamic Organic course offered by Taruna College in Havelock North and has been a visiting India since 1997 with her partner Peter Proctor, helping to pass on the benefits of organic farming practices.

She said the farmers needed the price premium enjoyed by organics.

"In many parts of the world primary producers' prices are beaten down."

"The idea was to have lower-input farming and assist with the marketing of products."

She said women were increasingly working alone on the small farms, from of an acre, because men took up jobs in roading and construction.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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