There are so many stories behind the products the co-op stocks so Nick, our Groceries Coordinator, thought we should share one with you this week.
The co-op's organic medium grain brown rice comes from Slater Farms This rice is grown and milled on the family-owned Slater Farm near Casino in the Northern Rivers of NSW which also means it isn't transported long distances for milling and packaging in the bulk 20 bags we buy it in. It is grown without the use of irrigation or flood paddies. They use biodynamic practices to produce a superior product of the highest quality – which is good for the environment too of course!
The majority of rice grown here in Australia is done through the use of 'flood' irrigated paddies. Regular rice farming, according to the CSIRO, requires around 1550L of water to grow just 1kg of rice! Slater farms, a certified bio-dynamic farm has chosen to quit these practices and grow rice with natural rain irrigation.
Brett Slater, a local biodynamic certified farmer with a passion for innovative sustainable farming moved to organic farming practices in 1998 and converted to Bio-dynamic growing in 2004. Brett grew his first crop of dryland ‘Rainfed’ rice in 2009. This rainfed rice is a special variety of rice called Tachiminori, which is a Japanese 'upland' rice that requires no irrigation, but does require warmth and high summer rainfall - perfect for the Northern Rivers Region of NSW. Absolutely no flood irrigation is used to grow their rice, which is ideal for conserving water resources. In place of chemical fertilisers, the fields of Slater Farms are hand weeded.
What is biodynamic?
Biodynamics is an advanced, organic growing method where no artificial fertilisers or chemical sprays are used. The plant is seen in a wholistic context where the influences of soil, water (in both soil and atmosphere), light, warmth and the cosmos (sun, moon, planets) are all taken into account and consciously balanced. Biodynamics is a growing system that gives the plant the absolute best chance at optimum growth and vitality. This kind of farming not only result in healthy, vibrant plant growth, but also a fully nutritious product with a superior flavour.
Slater Farms switched to biodynamic farming in 2004 as organic produce really grew in popularity, meaning every second farmer was putting an organic label on their products. They aimed to stand out from the crowd with a product unlike the rest.
“Biodynamic farming is about intent, putting intent into what you’re growing, and when you believe in what you do, it’s just better, much more satisfying.” – Brett Slater.