HEALTHY SOILS + HEALTHY GRAPES = NATURALLY GOOD QUALITY WINES
Since Technical Manager, Dan Swart arrived at Bosman Adama in 2015, he and his team have been working to build up the soils, because healthy soils, produce healthy vines, produce healthy grapes. The first vineyards commenced their organic conversion in 2016. Today 16ha of vineyards are certified organic, another 6 ½ha are in conversion, but the entire farm is farmed regeneratively.
THE COMPOST TEA PROJECT
Until recently, organic fertilisers were only available in pellets. These need considerable amounts of water to dissolve, so when distributed in the vineyards in Spring, often the pellet does not dissolve properly due to seasonal rainfall tapering off, and so it isn’t able to feed the vines as planned.
The solution was to erect a compost tea plant whereby a ‘tea’ can be brewed and fed directly into the drip irrigation system running through the vineyards. The ‘tea’ is brewed using a starter pack. This ‘tea’ builds up the naturally occurring micro-organisms in the soil so that no synthetic chemicals need to be applied. A natural balance is established within the soil, allowing the entire ecosystem between soil and vine to maintain itself.
The starter pack contains billions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and beneficial nematodes that grow and multiply in the tea brewing process. These feed on each other and then release metabolic by-products and nutrients such as Nitrogen, which is vital for a plant to photosynthesize and produce healthy, robust grapes. For the plant to digest the Nitrogen, it needs Carbon which is also provided by the fermenting compost.
In addition, these micro-organisms cause the soil particles to clump together, making the soil structure more porous and therefore having a better water retention capacity. Hence less water is needed, and that means less electricity is used to pump the water.
While chemical fertilizers contain Nitrogen, the plants need excessive water to digest it and eventually the soil becomes depleted of organic matter, whereas this process builds it up, making it more resilient and nutritious. The more Carbon available in the soil for the microbes to digest, the more Nitrogen is made available to the plant for photosynthesis.
The compost tea is made in two 5 000 litre tanks with aerating pipes installed at the bases, and heating elements suspended over the tops. The tanks are filled with water and the customized tea starter (made specifically by Ecosoil in response to soil analysis on the farm) is added.
As the microbes from the tea increase, so the oxygen levels decrease which is why air is constantly bubbled through the system by the pipes. The tea is heated to 25C by the elements to allow the fermentation process to start. 24 hours later, an additional bag of tea is added. After a total of 48 hours, the brewing process is complete and the tea consists of nutrient material and a wide variety of beneficial bacteria, protozoa and nematodes. This solution is them pumped into a tank, driven to the vineyard and pumped into the drip irrigation system.
The compost tea has been applied regularly for just more than a year now, and already soil tests show that the levels of Carbon in the soil have doubled.
A sure sign that our soils a becoming increasingly healthy, and healthy soils produce healthy grapes produce good, naturally made wines.
Environmental Factor – When choosing Bosman wines, you are making a sustainable choice. That choice means that you can enjoy great wines that are not only made well but are produced considering our precious natural resources. Now that is something to be proud of.
At Bosman Family Vineyards, we consciously adopt practices that will conserve our resources, reduce waste, facilitate growth and promote regeneration.
START WHERE YOU ARE
Sustainability has long been a watchword at Bosman, but we are constantly trying to find new and better ways to save energy and conserve our environment. We spent a great deal of time last year calculating our carbon footprint so that we have solid baseline information about where we are spending what resources. Now we have the tools to track our performance and can look at ways of saving efficiently.
USE WHAT YOU HAVE
Bosman is situated in Wellington at the lower end of the Bovlei, along the banks of the Kromme River. Instead of pumping water directly out of the river and up the slopes of the Groenberg to irrigate our vineyards, we source water from the upper reaches of our farm to allow gravity to distribute the water through the vineyards. With Wellington being sunny, our cellar roof and the rooves of all our warehouses and offices are covered with solar panels producing 350kW of electricity.
DO WHAT YOU CAN
A large dam catches our winter rains to use for irrigating our vineyards in the summer.
Drip irrigation has replaced our evaporation-heavy overhead sprinklers.
Compost and mulch are made from superfluous vines and cuttings from our vine nursery.
A reed bed purifies the water effluent from our cellar and is used to irrigate the vineyards.
We are constantly eradicating alien vegetation: a herd of goats munches any alien brave enough the resprout on our Wellington farm, while our Hermanus farm (www.bosmanhermanus.com) has been awarded WWF championship status for its efforts to encourage the regeneration of fynbos.
We have stopped the use of harmful chemicals and built a compost tea plant where we brew our own compost to feed our vines.
In addition, companion planting between the vine rows has created a natural ecosystem in the vineyards where plants, animals and insects work together to produce healthy grapes.
Instead of using chemical herbicides to control the weeds and cover crops, we have sheep to trim the vegetation between the vine rows.
Dedicated to Better – We are committed to producing vines, wines, fruit and flowers of excellence both in their provenance and in their process by sustainably regenerating our community and our environment.
“We have lived together, worked together and cared for each other on this farmland for centuries, passing on values and skills from one generation to another, planting and harvesting, over and over again. For us creating opportunities for advancement within our community and simultaneously nurturing the environment that sustains us, is not simply a good idea, it is a way of life.”
Petrus Bosman, Managing Director.
A. THE BOVLEI COMMUNITY CENTRE
Formerly a parsonage, this sprawling Victorian building is a hive of activity morning, noon and night. It houses the offices of the administrative staff, the clinic, the crèche, the aftercare programme, a computer centre for after-hours study and school projects, a well-equipped kitchen, a well-stocked library filled with books for adults and children; and it forms a meeting place for the various clubs and activities on the go.
There is also a counselling office, with a trained social auxiliary worker who takes care of the needs of all those on the farm including assistance for the aged and arranging for individuals to get treatment for substance abuse, work injuries or chronic illness, as well as family matters.
B. CRÈCHE | 82 children from the age of 7 months to 6 years
Fairtrade contributes in the following ways:
Supplements the fees of every child, which includes 2 meals per day and a snack.
Funds the training and support of the teaching staff and provides regular healthcare.
The salaries of 9 teachers who all get on-the-job training by the Pebbles Project.
The Educare training of 5 of the teachers at Boland College.
The bi-monthly visits by the Pebbles Mobile Clinic for primary healthcare assessments.
The transport and quarterly visits to the Pebbles Project Dental Clinic.
The repainting of the crèche building including bright and interactive murals.
Upgrading the playpark with safe, educational and fun play equipment.
C. AFTERCARE PROGRAMME | 87 children from Grades R to 7
Fairtrade’s impact is far-reaching:
2 used shipping containers were purchased and painted with sun-reflective paint and then decorated with colourful murals to stimulate young minds.
The 9 teachers received bi-monthly training by the Pebbles Project.
Each primary school learner received daily homework supervision, additional remedial help if required, fun and stimulating exercise and games.
The Pebbles Project mobile library makes regular visits, and specific literacy and mathematics tutors visit the learners regularly.
Eye test and dental check-ups are done regularly.
The Aftercare group have embarked on several outings including: visiting Robben Island, the aquarium, and Monkey Town; hiking up Paarl Mountain and an educational camp in Simonstown.
Participating in a sports day with other NGO youth clubs.
The Grade R and 1 learners attending a karate tournament where our team won 3 gold medals, 5 silver medals and 3 bronze medals.
Karate suits were purchased for 20 learners.
Various sports equipment was purchased.
Generally our learners performed very well at school, 15 of whom received diplomas for Academic Achievement.
This building is used building has been equipped with kitchen facilities, desks and chairs so that meetings can be held here when the Community Centre is booked up. Currently the Aftercare programme uses this facility every weekday afternoon.
One of the first initiatives for the community was to acquire 2 minibuses to transport both children and adults to school, the clinic, social events and adult classes.This year one of the busses was replaced by a new 13-seater bus to facilitate the transport of learners, workers and their families.
The 22-seater bus purchased in 2021 transports larger groups of children to the Pebbles Project Clinic and members of the community on outings, to sports tournaments and choir performances.
Once again Fairtrade provides funds to enable the Bosman Adama high school learners to perform at their best. All our Grade 9 and 11 learners undertake psychometric testing to assist them with subject and career choice. The matriculants are also assisted by our HR department to apply at tertiary institutions nearby and all high school learners are offered extra mathematics lessons after school.
All school fees for both primary and high school is subsidised by 50% by Fairtrade funding, continuing a partnership between community and parents. Parents are sent regular reports on their individual children as well as news from the school to keep everyone informed and on board.
The year Leshwill van Rooyen was elected Head Boy of Berg River High School. He has been accepted to study for a degree in Business Management at Stellenbosch University and he was awarded a prestigious scholarship that will cover all costs.
A full-time trained health worker is on duty daily at the clinic in the Bovlei Community Centre. This person is responsible for supplying chronic medication, checking up on outpatients as well as attending to minor work injuries. She is supported by trained Healthcare Workers who each take care of a section of the farm making sure workers take their medication for chronic illnesses such as HIV/Aids, diabetes and TB.
A senior nurse from the Provincial Health Department visits twice a month.
During the Covid pandemic we were able to vaccinate our employees on site in collaboration with the provincial health department.
Fairtrade funds also contribute to those attending Adult Evening Classes or doing Distance Learning Programmes. Bursaries are available for workers that want to complete courses that would assist them in the workplace, or further their studies to gain promotion. Literacy classes are available for all employees.
G. SOCIAL CLUBS
The Bosman farm community is a vibrant one. Families have lived together over generations and together they have created a culture of co-operation and care but also of enjoyment and appreciation of one another.
The Men’s Club meets regularly, focussing specifically on skills and potential development of men in the community. Motivational speakers are invited, soup kitchens are organised and these men have got together to help the elderly on the farm, planting lawns and helping with maintenance tasks.
They attend weekend camps that focus on relevant issues such as marriage counselling, parenting skills, trauma help and life skills development.
The Women’s Club also meets regularly focussing on the development of skills and care within the community. Sewing classes have been very successful, empowering several women in the community to take on dressmaking and alterations for people on the farm. Fairtrade funds contributed to purchasing sewing machines and funding the classes.
Motivational speakers have also empowered women to think differently and find solutions, while camps have provided much needed time away to relax and become equipped to deal with the various social problems they face. The women also arrange amongst themselves to reach out to those in need, cleaning a home or supplying a meal.
There are 35 members of the Pensioners’ Club who meet twice a week at the Bovlei Community Centre. Social workers from the Wellington community involve the members in outreach projects such as knitting blankets for the needy and preparing art and craft activities for the crèche children. A fitness programme is offered and several members attend the Pensioners’ Games each year.
The Bosman Adama Farm Choir is renowned for its excellent, energetic performances. Led by Rita Andreas, who grew up and worked on the farm, but who now works in community development for the district municipality.
The 35-member choir practices regularly and performs at competitions and at municipal and community functions. Both men and women, teens and adults, kitted out in eye-catching uniforms have wowed audiences on stages across the province, from the City Hall to arts festivals, their vibrant singing has impacted the lives of many.
The Cricket Club consists of 11 players who have uniforms and the necessary kit. They practice regularly on the sports fields near the Community Centre and take on teams from other farms in the area.
Similarly, the 20-strong Rugby Club has an avid following. Regular practices and matches against other farm teams are a regular occurrence in the winter.
Diego Appollis attended Wamakersvallei Primary School but was soon spotted by a coach from a prominent school in Gauteng. He was offered a scholarship and completed his school career there. He is currently a member of the Blue Bulls Academy, a training academy for the provincial Blue Bulls team. His sister Michele was nominated Sports Woman of the Year at the local high school last year, so we’re expecting great things from her too.
Karate is another popular sport on the farm. Shineen October is our champion, having taken part in international competitions in Australia, Ireland and Japan. Shineen currently helps coach 22 young children on the farm who all aspire to following in her footsteps. Subsidy of the coaching fees, uniforms and transport to competitions are provided.
There are 140 houses on the farm which all need to be maintained by the Housing Committee.
Then there are 2 apartment blocks in the village of Wellington. Adama Heights I consists of 12 apartments mainly for pensioners because of its location close to the clinic, shops and pensions office.
Adama Heights II was opened a few years ago consisting of 8 modern apartments. These were built to alleviate the housing shortage on the farm and were allocated to workers on application. A new scheme is currently being launched to assist employees to purchase their own homes in the village.
A CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
Our motto of ‘Dedicated to better’ inspires us to optimise our children’s education still further, giving them every opportunity to go out into the world and live a life of significance.
In primary school children fall behind with numeracy and literacy skills in an education system that is over-subscribed and under-powered. The consequence is that these children enter high school unprepared and therefore fall further behind inand are in danger of becoming ‘youth at risk’ where due to boredom, insecurity and a lack of life skills and discipline, they fall into the dangerous trap of sexual promiscuity and substance abuse.
Our dream for this Centre of Excellence is to supplement their current education with comprehensive mentorship and skills programmes. This will assist children from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop a stronger value system to make the right decisions on their road to becoming adults and to enable them to reach their true and full potential.
The psychometric testing was the first step in empowering the youth, and a Study Skills Programme was initiated this year focussing not only on aspects such as memory, planning and application, but also goal setting and motivation. Early reports are showing a marked impact on the learners whose academic results have improved astoundingly.
“It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it.” Nelson Mandela
ABOUT BOSMAN WINES
THE BOSMAN FAMILY HAVE BEEN VINE GROWERS IN WELLINGTON FOR 8 GENERATIONS, THEIR PROUD HERITAGE FORMING THE BEDROCK FROM WHICH INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY ARE A NATURAL PROGRESSION.