urban legends

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urban legend - steve botha

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-04-12 09:59

The first thing that strikes you about Steve is his passion. Steve has abounding enthusiasm for everything, but most particularly his Micro Greens™ – the Porterville farmer is the micro herb and micro green fundi of the Cape, and winner of the SA Produce Innovation prize in the Eat in RMB 2006 awards.

He also calls his mini leaves ‘Magic Greens’, hence his nick name, and he really can magically grow just about anything from French tarragon and Japanese parsley to lemon thyme – and that’s just his herbs. His range of 40 Micro Greens is all the rage among chefs in the Cape, and top restaurants like Le Quartier Francais, Showroom, Ginja, Haute Cabriere and Caveaux are listed amongst Steve’s top clients.

Steve believes he is the first person to grow Micro Greens commercially in the country, and he commutes from the Swartland dorp into Cape Town a number of times a week to personally deliver his micro leaves still in trays of organic medium ready to harvest. They’re all organically grown on five hectares of agricultural land – ‘why would I use pesticides or chemicals when everyone knows toxins cause diseases like cancer and liver dysfunction?’

What inspired you to go organic? It’s in my soul. Mom taught me how to grow pees when I was a lightie, and I knew that spraying anything on them just wouldn’t make sense. I’ve always had a herb garden and have never sprayed things. We had lots of fruit trees when I was growing up and my dad, even though he sprayed, was incredibly careful. I think this developed a fear for chemicals and toxins in me, so I’ve never liked it. I’ve always had the attitude of ‘no spray’.

What is your convenient truth: Erosion. If you don’t protect the land, what do you have? Organic isn’t just about chemicals, it’s about the health of the soil. We have some very bad farming practices here, especially in the old homelands where farmers weren’t taught how to work the land. Do you know that in Germany you need a permit to move top soil?

What’s the greenest thing you’ve ever done? Releasing my aunt’s parrot from captivity, when I was a child. Since then, I’ve been releasing everything – cows from paddocks, horses from stables. But probably the greenest thing I’ve done is starting Magic Herbs. If I had enough land, I would plant a tree every day for the rest of my life. Look at China, they’re busy planting trees in the Gobi desert to stop encroachment – as far as you can see there are trees. [forests of the world are slowly disappearing – IOL]

What is your favourite food and where do you buy it? I grow all my favourite foods – chives, thyme, oregano and Italian parsley; brandy wine tomatoes, onion de Florence and shallots; and figs and mangoes. My favourite meal is a salad of Micro Greens with or without cheese. But I’ll go to Ginja, in Cape Town, for their veal.

Desert island scenario: what would you take with you? Seeds to plant.

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