Once upon a time...........
Kings Seeds was the first company in NZ to introduce organically grown and internationally certified seed to home gardeners - way back in 2000, in fact. Since that time, we've provided organic declarations to our customers. Over the last year or two, Gerard and Barbara have talked about organically certifying our operation. It seemed a good idea to tackle the task of becoming the first New Zealand mail order seed company to have certification for their Organic seed range.
As the world becomes increasingly conscious of the source of the food they eat and the journey it travels, interest in growing your own food organically has grown dramatically. We sell seed to many organic growers, both home gardeners and commercial operations, providing them with the best options to maintain their organic status. Every year we work towards increasing our selection of organic varieties.
We have a strong company ethic to provide seed to our customers that is not genetically modified.
To the very best of our knowledge, we stock no genetically modified seed and will never knowingly purchase any.
When it comes to treated seed, this cannot be avoided altogether as we must adhere to the import regulations of the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI previously MAF) and these change from time to time. At the time of writing, there are several seed varieties that cannot enter New Zealand without being treated - sunflowers, coriander, corn, cumin and lavender. That's why we are unable to supply untreated seed of these varieties unless we have been able to grow them ourselves or find an alternative but consistent supply within NZ. Keep reading for more information about treated seed.
Who is granting our Certification?
BioGro is an independent organisation that assesses and audits for Organic status. We gave ourselves a big pat on the back when we were told that our application was the most comprehensive they'd ever received. This meant we were able to move through the process quickly, having to implement only a few changes to our procedures in order to receive certification of our Organic seed range. Thanks to our dedicated and persistent staff, we were granted Organic status in a relatively short time-frame.
In February this year we completed our application in full. In March, we were audited and in April we were granted certification as a Organically Certified seed handler.
What did we have to do to attain this certification?
A key process that had to be determined and documented was the handling of both treated and organic seed in the same environment. Most of this was in place already. However, we set up improved labelling and colour coded systems. We handle all orders that contain treated seed separately to other orders, with containers and scoops used solely for treated seed. We have a separate room for packing and separate storage areas for all treated seed.
What do we have to do to retain this certification?
We will now be audited on an annual basis and may be spot-checked at any time.
This is a topic all on its own and we are proud of the fact that we manage to minimize the percentage of our stock that has been treated. It's a very small percentage - currently about 5% of all stock.
Some of you may be questioning why you can buy untreated sunflower seed in other shops. These are being sold as a food item which means they come under a different regulation when being imported. As a food item (Seed for Processing), they must be heat-treated which stops the viability of the seed for growing. We import our sunflower seed under the Seed for Sowing regulation and treatment is compulsory.
It's important to realise (and we spend time advising organic growers of this) that the majority of our seed range is untreated and, as such, passes organic audit even if not organically grown and certified. We are able to supply a certificate to state this.
As a footnote: We've been questioned over the years about our organic seed. This has always been certified but to an international standard (IFOAM). We have never claimed to be certified as a company. We sell organic seed and have always maintained the integrity of, not just this, but all seed that we handle. We are proud of the fact that only a few changes needed to be made to get our certification. We'll continue packaging and supplying you with both organically certified and conventional varieties with the same care and attention as always.