The Botanica Restaurant is passionate about sourcing local produce
On Saturday the 29th of November, Botanica Restaurant in Saint Louis, Mahe will host a fundraising dinner towards the launch of an organic network in Seychelles. Nature Seychelles, Geffroy’s Farm and Botanica Restaurant, have come together to initiate the creation of this network with the aim of bettering the wellbeing of the Seychelles people, environment and indeed, economy.
The organic network, dubbed Sustainable Organic Seychelles (SOS) will facilitate the coming together of interested parties from government, private sector and civil society to move towards sustainable food production for Seychelles including organic farming. When Dr. Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles’ CEO approached the Seychelles Agricultural Agency (SAA) and proposed the initiative, SAA’s CEO, Mark Naiken supported the idea saying that the time had come for such a network in the country.
Organic farming is production using environmentally and people friendly methods, without the use of harmful chemical pesticides. Organic farms therefore are those that use techniques that appreciate the link between how food is produced and the health of people, animals and the environment. Organic farming makes it easier for both animals and plants to be able to resist diseases. The same is true for people who eat organic foods. The health benefits are vast for instance reduced exposure to harmful pesticides used on farms or antibiotics used on animals.
Geffroy's farm uses eco-friendly as well as innovative farming techniques
“I do not really want to use chemical pesticides on my farm because it is not good for me and my family, it is not good for the environment and therefore not good for Seychelles,” Jean-Paul Geffroy said in an interview. Jean-Paul, part owner of Geffroy’s farm is already applying eco-friendly farming methods in the yield of vegetables and fruits on his farm, but his ambition is to move full scale into organic production.
Jean-Paul uses steam to clear the soil on his land of pathogens rather than chemicals. Walking through the farm, it is hard to miss the bright yellow plastic plates smeared with grease, which are placed around the farm to trap insects. Another device used to avoid spraying of harmful pesticides. The soil on Geffroy’s farm is also developed through crop rotation, compost and manure, rather than applying artificial fertilizers.
People all over the world are also being encouraged to buy locally. We usually know who has produced the local foods so we can know what has gone into the production. Locally produced foods also have a small ecological footprint – Seychelles imports over 70% of its non-fish foodstuffs and this has a massive carbon footprint because of the transport and storage.
Picking golden apple at the Heritage Garden
Nature Seychelles’ Heritage (organic) Garden in Roche Caiman acts as a demonstration farm for people to learn of the foods that they can grow locally and how to do so organically. Nature Seychelles’ work is geared towards the protection of the wildlife, environment and people of Seychelles. Organic farming practices reduce pollution as well as encouraging soil and water conservation and the network’s aims are thus in line with the conservation values of the organisation.
“SOS is an idea whose time has come. People have become concerned about what they put in their body because finally, they understand the links between food and health. Also it is clear that what is bad for the natural environment is also bad for people,” says Dr Shah. “By getting a farmer, a restaurant and an environmental NGO together as the initial members of this network we are highlighting the life cycle of food production.”
Christelle Verheyden the owner of Botanic is a well known chef, food designer, restaurant consultant and writer. She has been using local products for quite a while and is passionate about incorporating them into gourmet food. “I am convinced that Seychelles has many of the ingredients necessary for gastronomic cuisine” she says.
Botanica Restaurant by night
Botanica Restaurant strives to serve meals that are prepared from locally sourced foods as will be the case at the fundraising dinner on the 29th of November. The aim is to prove that products from Seychelles can be used in gastronomic cuisine. The dinner will cost 2,500 rupees per person for which guests will be served a five-course wine pairing meal.
“I hope and I wish that others join us so that we make this network a proper organization that can initiate change. So please come and enjoy this unique fundraising dinner and help start the movement for a sustainable and organic Seychelles,” says Dr. Shah.