The Gorge Organic Essential Oils

In 2006 our local municipality approached us as successful commercial farmers, to look how we could help subsistence and emerging farmers in our area to become more successful. An analysis was done on the farmers who wanted help as well as their individual circumstances. The common thread, we found, was a lack of farming assets to work large areas of land, as well as a lack if infrastructure to move produce to the relevant markets. Theft and fire were also two major obstacles.

For this reason the traditional crops that grow in our area namely sugar cane, timber and vegetables were not viable crops for the emerging farmers to plant. After extensive research, it was decided to pursue essential oils starting with Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) as this overcame all the challenges that the other crops posed.

A nursery and was built to grow large volumes of seeding together with a distillation plant to process the oil within close proximity to the farmers. There are currently ten commercials farmers and ten emerging farmers involved in the business.

This model has proven so successful that we have expanded from just Tea Tree to another eleven different oils, maximizing each farmer’s potential through variety.

The Nursery

Cuttings are 1st placed in a climate controlled hot house which promotes rooting. The heated floor allows us to take cuttings even in winter making early spring plantings possible. After rooting, seedlings are placed in shade house to acclimatise to field conditions.

Field Plantings

Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) at 15 months almost ready for first harvest.

Rose Geranium (Pelargonium Capitatum) harvesting takes place 3 to 4 times a year
Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) grows well but needs lots of water.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)Tuscan Blue and Verbanone easy to grow and needs little water

Distillation

Our wood fired boiler relies on a plentiful supply of non-indigenous black wattle trees that grow on our farm. The boiler runs four 1 ton pots producing 20kgs of tea tree oil per hour. This method of distillation we have found to be the most cost effective. Harvesting the black wattle trees helps us to eradicate this water hungry parasite plant from the natural habitat of the breath taking beautiful Oribi Gorge.

The Gorge Essential Oil Products

We produce our own range of essential oils, tea tree, lavender; rosemary; rose geranium; cedar wood; eucalyptus; lemon grass; lemon balm; peppermint and ylang ylang. These pure essential oils are of the highest export quality they are used in our spa by our qualified beauty therapists during treatments. Our oils are also available to the public.

The final product:

You may contact us on 039 687 4000 or info@thegorge.co.za should you need more information.

The Gorge Supports the Economic Empowerment of Africa

Friends of the project

Sizuzimpilo is a Co-Op formed and made up of 10 commercial and 10 emerging farmers. The emerging farmers have planted 10ha of Tea Tree already with another 20ha to plant in 2013.

It is very rewarding to see land that was once unproductive and underutilized now exporting essential oils worldwide. Various government departments have invested and assisted during most phases of the project.




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