Written by Boschendal
Our lively Livestock Manager, better known as Farmer Jason, is a self-confessed ethical omnivore and a hands-on farmer that won’t deny his love for the incredible animals he works with. Aside from overseeing a sizable drove of Duroc pigs that roam our forests and a boisterous brood of layer hens, it’s the herd of five hundred Black Angus that is his pride and joy.
Jason is all about creating happy herds and like all the food-producing parts of the farm, ethics and sustainability are paramount. The question he regularly asks himself is – “Is it natural?” and the answer is a resounding yes! It begins with the idyllic countryside environment the animals get to roam and ends with their diet, a menu of nutrient-rich grasses that mimic what they would typically eat in the wild. Jason works holistically and his approach is a boost to the physical and emotional wellbeing of every animal in his care. “I want to change the way people look and think about the meat they eat,” he explains.
The superb quality of our meat is achieved without so much of a hint of a harmful additive. It was the arrival of his first baby girl that fuelled Jason’s passion for farming the way nature intended. “Knowing the consequences, I didn’t want my kids eating meat propped full of antibiotics and hormones, so I made it my business to farm without any artificial interference and the results have been amazing: a product lower in saturated fat, higher in vitamin E, and has a balance of omegas 3 and 6. This gives enormous peace of mind to anyone buying meat from our Farm Shop, which is the only place we supply.”
Jason, formerly from Queenstown where he was a farmer and butcher, works with a team of seven and Ralph Valentine from Languedoc is his remarkable right-hand man, someone he has worked with for the past six years and whom he counts as a valuable friend. “Without him I would not be able to do as good a job – he is intrinsic to my entire farming operation. I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the past twelve years and he definitely stands apart.”
Last year, Jason and his team made history when Boschendal became the first farm in the Cape Winelands to be awarded world-renowned Environmental and Animal Welfare certification from A Greener World (AGW). More recently, the farm was included as one of only 50 farms worldwide to be considered for a brand new regenerative farming certification which commends our approach of collaboration with the animals. While they graze at leisure in wide open fields, their activity helps our team to naturally restore the soil, which is our most valuable asset. “We are leading by example, focused on treating our animals humanely and allowing them to move around in a natural habitat while also consuming only what their bodies are designed to process.”
“At the end of the day these animals give their lives to sustain us, and in return they deserve our respect,” he commented, adding that he dreads Wednesdays because that’s the day he has to part with some of his herd. But, the entire process is managed with sensitivity. “I love my animals. They have one bad day and I’m there for it, and I load them into the truck myself.
“I know my animals and they know me, and I am incredibly proud of the traceability of our Boschendal beef. In the commercial industry where farmers are under major pressure to mass produce livestock, there is no story. You don’t know where or how an animal lived, or what it had to endure. Here, we respect the animals and ensure they have a life worth living right to the end.”
Jason truly believes that if we can change the way the next generation sees regenerative farming, we can truly begin to bring about change. He hopes to inspire and teach the next generation of farmers to start off with greater care for the environment and respect for the animals they work with. Beyond that, he wants to encourage people to understand more about what they are eating, to look for the backstory of what ends up on their plate and make a deliberate decision to support ethical and sustainable farming. He concludes succinctly – “Know your farmer, follow your food”