The Papillon Story
Papillon Organic Farm is owned by Malcolm and Sha Devine, who bought the 100ha farm in 1998, being determined to change their lifestyle from city to country dwellers.
The farm was largely undeveloped having been sub divided off a larger farm at the time. There was no electricity, no potable water and a single large barn on the property. Virtually bare of trees apart from invasive Black Wattle and Port Jackson, Malcolm and Sha set about building their dream. An area was cleared for the farm house and indigenous trees were planted as a start. The farm, originally a portion of Drie Werwen, was re-named Papillon, due to the fact that on their first introduction to the property thousands of Blue Ox Eye Pansy Butterflies were swarming in the indigenous grasses and fynbos.
With the house complete Sha’s priority was a vegetable garden, or kitchen potager. From day one organic farming was practised. The potager was soon producing all the herbs and vegetables the family needed. It became known in the area that ‘die engelse dame op Papillon kweek snaakse goed!’ [The English lady at Papillon was growing strange things (herbs)!]. At this stage Malcolm was still practising pharmacy in Jeffreys Bay .
A local chef arrived on the farm one day asking for rocket, which Sha was able to supply. Word got out and within a short space of time Sha and her assistant Mcivan were packing herbs and lettuce on the kitchen table and using the household fridge for cold storage providing ‘strange herbs’ to various local restaurants. So began the Papillon Story!! The Devines soon realised that the potager was not sufficient and Malcolm decided to put up a shade cloth tunnel. Protection from the fierce prevailing winds was their primary concern. At this stage the decision was taken to apply for organic certification. It was not a decision taken lightly as both Sha and Malcolm were aware of the onerous task ahead! Application was made and due to the fact that organic principles had been in practise already for a number of years they were granted ‘Organic Status in Conversion’. Full organic status was achieved in 2006, and certification has to be renewed annually. Malcolm was persuaded to give up pharmacy and joined the business full-time. His pharmaceutical background and knowledge of naturally occurring nutrients and minerals have proven invaluable to Papillon Organics.
Today, Papillon Organics provides employment to more than 30 people, including the Devine family. Currently Papillon Organics is the only registered organic farm of its kind in the South Eastern Cape, producing such a large variety of herbs, lettuce and vegetables. It was, and remains of great importance to both Malcolm and Sha that all produce is grown without the use of chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, manufactured fertilizers and preservatives in the final packing process. They both believe the health benefits of growing and eating organic foods far outweigh the problems of keeping insects and disease at bay or poisoning the food we eat and our planet!! “We are what we eat!!”
Organic farming practises are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution, all so vital to our wonderful country, South Africa.