Spier has been a voluntary member of the Western Cape Peer Guarantee System (PGS) since 2019. The PGS is a network of growers that guarantees bona fide organic growing for producers based on the sharing of knowledge, resources, and connections. Ultimately, the growers have a shared commitment to building local food security by making nutritious, organically-grown food available and accessible to their communities.
Spier Food Garden’s agroecologist, Megan McCarthy says, “Now that we have expanded the food garden to almost a hectare, there’s a fantastic opportunity to establish it as a vibrant place of learning for our food garden team, the public as well as new PGS members. As a member, we can benefit from and contribute to a collective pool of knowledge, whilst also supporting emerging farmers in our communities and helping to build a robust food system in our area.”
Like other Peer Guarantee Systems in South Africa, the Western Cape chapter is assured by SAOSO (South African Organic Sector Organisation) and upholds global organic principles established by IFOAM Organics International. Worldwide, PGS is regarded as a complementary alternative to third-party organic certification, which has many benefits for small-scale growers.
“It’s Ubuntu in action,” says Megan, “Participating growers are united in collaboration and support for one another. For experienced growers, it’s an amazing opportunity to teach and to mentor, while the emerging growers tap into expertise that would normally take years of trial and error to gain on their own. Together, we learn, we share, we grow more.”
IFOAM Organics International outlines four principles that underpin organic growing within the PGS:
· Health – Growing food should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plants, animals, humans and the planet.
· Ecology – Growing food should be based on ecological systems and cycles, working with them and enhancing them.
· Fairness – Growing food should be based on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the shared environment and life opportunities.
· Care – Growing food should be responsible to protect the health and well-being of the environment for current and future generations.
Megan concludes, “These are the guiding principles we live by at Spier as we grow the fresh veggies, fruit and herbs to supply our restaurants and farm, and share with our neighbours. With the new garden flourishing, we are looking forward to working shoulder to shoulder with our fellow PGS participants to realise our shared dream of food-rich, healthy communities in the Western Cape.”
Want to learn how to start your own home food garden? Find out more about our series of one-day Spier Food Garden Winter Workshops facilitated by Megan McCarthy from August 2021 here.