Grower Profile

​Maurie and Maria Cafra

Maurie and Maria Cafra’s property at Koo Wee Rup has been in the family since 1952 when Maurie's father grew potatoes, carrots and onions. Maurie has been growing vegetables since 1975, and in 1997, Maurie and Maria were awarded organic certification from the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia Limited (NASAA) and adopted the name Cafresco Organics.

The 69-hectare property is cropped with asparagus, onions, sweet corn, fresh beans, pumpkins, capsicums, eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, fennel, artichokes and kale.

Maurie has been growing asparagus since 1987. It is the main crop, accounting for about one third of the cropped area, but also produces some of the greatest challenges for organic production, as Maurie explains.

"Weeds in asparagus can be a big problem. We try to control them by timely cultivation and hand weeding where necessary. The plants don’t compete well with weeds so a constant vigilance needs to be maintained especially during the growing season in the warmer months to control them.

We try to keep our soil healthy by adding compost (which we make on the farm), other organic fertilisers and sprays, and compost tea as needed. These all contribute to a healthy soil, which should produce a healthy plant that is better able to withstand pest and disease.

We also use integrated pest management technology to help us understand what is going on in the insect world in our crops. This usually means keeping weeds that host the pests to a minimum, thus minimising their habitat. By not using pesticides beneficial insects are not impacted so they stay as a valuable control for pests.

Asparagus is harvested early in the morning when it is at its most tender, and graded and packed as soon as possible to maintain it freshness."