Fresh Gardens

Meet Sally Yu with a passion for growing nutritious, safe food. Eating her own organic produce, she says, "I feel more energetic. I'm 40 years old but many people think I'm 27 or 28."

She wants others to feel the same. For seven years Sally sold organic herbs, salad greens and vegetables, from her family's Fresh Gardens farm in Kumeu, on trust.

In October 2013, Fresh Gardens received full organic certification from BioGro, New Zealand's longest-running organic auditor.

Organic certification rules are strict. No synthetic chemicals can touch soil or plants. Instead, organic growers have to find creative ways of working with Mother Nature.

Take a pest like the leafminer fly, which lays eggs on some salad and vegetable crops. The hatching larvae burrow white trails into the leaves, making some crops cosmetically unsellable.

"Every adult female of the fly can produce 250 eggs in her life," Sally says - so just one on the loose can sabotage a lot of lettuce. She and her proactive staff have learned to use sticky insect traps which attract adult leafminers.

"Now our salad crops are almost free from those attacks," she says.

Sally and her family grow vegetables, but they also raise pigs, chickens, ducks and sheep for themselves. It works well on both paddock and plate. The pigs and chickens get to eat excess veges, and their manure goes into the compost pile to nourish the next crop.

Written by Rebecca Reider