Robert Glensor and his team at Paraoa Bakery in Paraparaumu produce more than 5000 loaves of unique GE-free Purebread each week, delivering to satisfied customers all over New Zealand.
Purebread is a label found in most supermarkets and health food shops in Auckland and Wellington. The company couriers orders to meet demand from Invercargill to Kaitaia and is considering exporting to Australia and Singapore.
Robert agrees the organic GE-free label on Purebread is a draw-card for many customers – but many others buy the bread simply because it tastes so good.
“There are a lot of people who appreciate the dangers of genetic engineering outside the laboratory,” Robert says. “Many people know that it will be years before adequate safeguards can be guaranteed.
“But there are lots more people who are still not fully aware of how GE could damage them and their children for generations to come. It is too easy to confuse people with facts… too easy to turn people off.”
Robert believes that any philosophy that is good, must come naturally, or not at all.
“That’s why I particularly enjoy hearing about customers that buy Purebread simply because they like the taste. It opens the door for people to actually taste the difference. The richness and the flavour hits them right away. All the why’s and how’s, do’s and don’t’s of organics and genetic engineering can come later. I think it’s a great message.”
But the good taste of organic bread is only a start for Robert Glensor, his son Kain and his partner Julie Laurich. For him organics is a philosophy and a way-of-life. At home, as well as the bread, there is also organic beef, pork, bacon, ham, chicken, eggs, and the complete organic vegetable garden including tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, and corn, and everything else from lettuce to onions to greens and even honey.
On their 12-acre farm at Te Horo are 20 cows and calves; more than 30 sows and piglets; some 40 chickens – all organically gown, all feeding on left-over Purebread. Fifty percent of the pig’s diet is Purebread. They also have several paddocks to root for greens. Purebread is a major food supplement for the cows and calves. The free-ranging chooks eat nothing but Purebread.
“It’s a really complete diet,” Julie Laurich says. “Honey, vinegar, proteins, and all the grains… everything. They love it,” she says.
The farm breeds its own livestock, and while some weaners are sold, Robert butchers his pigs, making his own special bacon and hams. The cows he sends to a local butcher. The family collects 40 eggs a day.
Robert and his family are largely self-sufficient for food, as are a number of neighbouring farms in Te Horo. Some of the local organic farms specialise in crops such as olives, feijoas, and even grapes and citrus.
Farming – even organic farming – has been part of Robert’s life since early days. Leaving school, 16 year-old Robert says he got the call to “go north for a while” and so he set off for Gisborne working on a variety of pig, dairy, beef and potato farms. He drove a bus for 4-5 years.
He then moved further north near Kaitaia where he had a few blocks of land and started “dabbling with bio-dynamic and organic farming.” In 1991 he became the supervisor of the Community Business and Environment Centre, which ran a number of local environmentally friendly businesses. The centre was the first place in the country to set-up household recycling and it also initiated the planing of a eucalypt forest as part of a local job-creating scheme.
It was during this six-year stint in the north that Robert’s interest in organics and bio-dynamics began to flourish. He recalls seening John Peircy, a well-known teacher and bio-dynamic farmer from Kaipara on television, and being so impressed by his message that he organised to visit his property.
“I never liked the idea of drenching cows and artificial fertilisers and to see that it could be done another way was very exciting and inspiring. When you think about it, the whole chemical farming process has only been around for 40 or 50 years and so we’re really only returning to the practices of a few decades ago.”
Today, Robert Glensor looks more like a triathlete than your stereotypic baker – youthful and keen, with bare feet, and wearing a tee shirt and jeans as a work uniform. This man is a walking advertisement for his own product – energetic, enthusiastic and on-the-ball!
Paraoa Bakery now employs 10 people around the country. Last June, Paraoa received the Kapiti Employment Creation Award. Purebread was New Zealand’s first Bio-Gro organic bread after earning product and bakehouse certification in August 1996.
The bakery boasts a host of other organic products from a raisin loaf to crunchy granola, organic muesli, potato bread, pizza bases, tasty breadcrumbs and liquorice. Speciality breads such as the wheat-free and rice, gluten-free rice and spice and the wheat and yeast-free sourdough rye are also popular for people with allergies or on special diets.
Sounds good? It is. Especially when you put it together in a big sandwich with home-grown tomatoes, lettuce and roast beef.
All organic, of course. And tasty