There’s No Planet B

Our story this year has many parts to it. The planning and advice, the hard work and organisation of the farm team. The fertility and soil management, the weather and the birds and the bees have all played their part.

Our amazing team of packers, rising each morning sometimes at 4am to get to work at 5am to start packing your orders. Finally, having you our customers willing to supporting our farm and a whole bunch of good luck has got us through to another autumn, my 17th year growing vegetables and our 15th year in business.

Growing vegetables commercially is a tough endeavour and in the stony wet land of the West of Ireland it is particularly challenging.  

The skill and art of growing our food is so important and we need to preserve this knowledge. It is invigorating to see so many small-scale growers embrace sustainable growing.

Yet, many commercial growers are struggling, the work is too hard, the price for their produce is too low, the seasons (due to climate change) are unpredictable, and planning for a market that is ever changing and is sometimes 12 months in the future makes it a precarious undertaking indeed.

As with everything and it is no different in our food system, decisions based purely on financial gain with no regard for our environment are causing devastation to our planet.  

It is much easier for a large supermarket buyer to import cheap produce, grown abroad where labour is inexpensive and where very often the working conditions are poor, and the attention paid to biodiversity is scant than buy more expensive IRISH grown crops.  

I am glad we have you our customers and that we do not need to knock on supermarket doors to sell our produce.

Our harvest is overflowing, now we have parsnips, carrots, swedes, cabbage, leeks, celery, pumpkin, kale and Brussels sprouts, the last of the broccoli and the soon to start purple sprouting broccoli and the first time in 10 years we will have celeriac.

I think you might taste the flavour in your in your boxes, tell us if you do! You will also notice the size of all our crops, the warm September and a soil temperature that is 5C above normal means growth has continued well past when it should have slowed leading to bigger produce. 

The days are closing in now and the weather is wet and it should be cool, but as I write this, we have temperatures here in Galway of 17C and it is 8pm, is this climate change in action right here on our doorstep? 

Our promise is simple, “When you get a box from us you do not need to think about whether you are choosing sustainably, we promise you are”. 

Your support for us means our farm survives and thrives, our people stay in jobs, and we get to mind our little patch of land here in the West of Ireland sustainably.

Thank you

Kenneth

Don’t Look the Other Way

How often do we look the other way? How often do businesses and governments look the other way? Which is worse? Not knowing, or knowing and doing nothing?  As they say ignorance is bliss.

But what about re-framing that idea? What if we know something is good for our health our soul and the planet and we choose that path? What if that means we do the right thing because of the knowledge we have, then we are travelling down a very bright road indeed.

Ella went foraging for blackberries yesterday evening. She felt great for being outside in nature, she felt great for the satisfaction and the pure pleasure of finding and harvesting them and her health will certainly thank her for eating them. She did the right thing, she may not have thought about it much, but she felt it.

On our organic farm we have left the brambles, they provide wonderful homes for all sorts of life and their blossom is an early source of food for the bees, the best advice given to many conventional farmers is to spray burn and clear them! Why I say?!

We as farmers can do the right thing too, mostly we have the knowledge (although the food system and many professional advisers lead farmers down a factory farming and chemical laden approach to food which is unnecessary and inhumane) so hiding in ignorance will not wash.

At the other end of the scale, we have the conscious deception by multinational agribusinesses and large food corporations with billions at stake. They certainly have the knowledge and the resources to do the right thing, and yet they actively engage in measures to create a food system that involves not only looking the other way but one that damages our planet and our health while intentionally misleading consumers about their food choices.

Martin Luther King’s famous quote was most probably not targeting these corporations, but it is fitting in this context.

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the week-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.

Martin Luther King Jr.

There is so much we can do to reengage with a positive food culture. Building a positive healthy eating routine is the first step.  Taking a closer look at what we eat and where we source our food can transform our diet and collectively help transform our world.

There is little doubt that eating more organic vegetables and fruits sourced locally is the very best thing we can do for our planet and our health.

So, step out into nature, and if you do get the chance, blackberry season is upon us, it is short, so grab a bowl or two and get picking. They freeze amazingly well and are a fantastic addition to smoothies.

Kenneth

Explore our range of sustainably grown and sourced fruit, vegetables and groceries here. We deliver to every address in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Sowing the Seeds of Love

These lyrics from ‘Tears for Fears’ may not have been talking about plants, but they do describe activities on the farm this week.

The last seven days have been a stretch on the farm for all sorts of reasons. We are very lucky to have, in every area of our business, strong teams and the farm is no exception.

When you don’t need to ask and yet the lads put in 12-hour days to get the sowing done before the rain you know you have special people. 

In vegetable farming it is about a great many things but right at the top of the list is timing.

Getting the timing right is powerful stuff and the race against the rain in the West of Ireland is always a close call and fraught with uncertainty.

I am relieved that the carrots, parsnips, beetroot, and spinach are all now in the ground. There is more to sow, but the first batches are sown and that has for now stilled the vague buzz of concern at the back of my mind that we will not win the race against the weather.

The first tomatoes, cucumbers and a host of broccolis, cabbages, kales, romanescos and more are all planted and making good progress.

So, we march on, the first weeding is happening the first harvest of new season crops too, our own gorgeous lettuce and spinach, chard, radish parsley and more.

‘Feel the pain, talk about it’ another lyric from the same great song. There has been hard work certainly, pain a little, satisfaction at a job well done for sure. But there is pain in the modern world of food production and we in our own little way we are attempting to set that right.

Although we have been very busy with the work of growing food our care for the land has certainly not been forgotten, the wildflowers, the hedges and wildlife, the trees, the birds and beehives, the pigs and the foxes, the work on those long term valuable investments has already been done in quieter days.

The fruits and benefits of which now we can see.

Every day I am so grateful to be able to do this, I am grateful to you for giving us and our farm the opportunity to thrive.

Your choice to get a box from us is an amazingly positive thing and you should know it is making a difference for you and your families health, and for the health of the planet.

Thank you.

Kenneth

PS: Have you tried our new repeat order system yet? You can set up an order for delivery every week and you can pause it or change it at any time.  So if you need certain things each week why not add them to your regular fruit and veg order and never miss your order deadline again?

Spring is in the Air

Thanks to your generosity last week, we will be donating €900 to The Irish Cancer society.

A sense of possibility and new beginnings is naturally in the air in Spring. On the farm, maybe it is the start of the new plant and seed arrivals that kindles this feeling, but there is a sense that we can do things better this year, that we will try a little harder to get things right, that all will be well in the end.

Nature is waking up, the birds are singing, the daffodils are blooming, the new leaves are beginning to unfurl on the trees. The extra daylight means that life cycles are changing and growth increasing, it is a natural rhythm, and it resonates on a subconscious level, if you let it.

Even our lovely new season salad is responding well to the extra light, and we will be harvesting ours and also Mick and Audrey from Millhouse farm will be delivering their gorgeous salad to us for all the boxes next week.

The sun is higher in the sky and on clear days you can feel the first tendrils of warmth, there is more power too in its rays and from now on the capture of this power to make electricity works well. (We installed a large solar panel array two years ago and it sits on the roof of one of our sheds generating clean renewable energy.)

Frequently now we can see plants growing, hear the birds singing and the insects buzzing well before it is time. This can be symbolic of a world out of sync and it has ramifications for all living systems. Planning a season of vegetable growing on the farm becomes more of a gamble as the natural order we rely on can change unpredictably and dramatically.

Luckily to date here in Ireland we have been spared the worst of the effects of the climate emergency. The climate crisis is a complex global problem but maybe the solutions are also simpler than we think? Down at the level of you and I there is much that can be done. Planting trees is one of the simplest ways to help redress the balance, as farmers we have an obligation to plant trees, and as gardeners there is always space for a tree. Again, thanks to your support, we just recently planted another 1500 trees here on our farm. By supporting local food growers like us and Mick and Audrey you too are doing your bit to tackle the climate crisis.

The prediction of the weather for the year ahead was often associated with a saying closely tied to trees, “ash before oak you are in for a soak, oak before ash you are in for a splash”. It seems this year at least here in Galway that the ash has won the race. Nevertheless, if living and farming in the west of Ireland has taught me one thing it is that the weather is unpredictable. It changes fast and sometimes when you least expect it, it surprises you.

Here is hoping for a lovely, sunny Summer surprise this year.

Kenneth

PS – DON’T FORGET IT IS DELIVERIES AS NORMAL FOR US NEXT WEEK, AND MONDAY IS A BANK HOLIDAY BUT NORMAL ORDERING AND DELVIERES APPLIES!!

We are maintaining the FREE Delivery over €100 next week also!

PPS – You have until Monday evening to grab your place on the Green Fingers course part 1 as we will be sending out seeds and resource packs next week by post!

This Year’s Tree Planting Has Begun

This past week marks the first of our tree planting that we began on your behalf. We are planting another 1500 trees and this is specifically because of your support.

You have enabled us to do this as well as so much more. Because we charge a little more for our organic produce we can take the steps we do take to grow food sustainably.

This is not all your support has enabled. The solar panels on our packing shed roof every day are generating clean electricity. The rainwater harvesting enables the watering of our tunnels with chlorine free water.

The hundreds of metres of hedge rows that we have grown and the preservation of old hedgerows, the sowing of wildflowers. Madly, the re-homing of two rescue pigs, who may I add are getting fatter and bigger by the day.

The resting of the land, the sowing of green manure to take carbon from the air and fertilise the ground. The production of crops without chemicals.

The delivery of your boxes without plastic, the collection and reuse of our boxes. The support for many local small-scale Irish business. The support of several local Irish organic growers. The purchase of only Fair-trade produce where it is available. Never air-freighting produce. Always looking to reduce food waste, never rejecting food based on looks or size, but making sure we keep a close eye on quality.

Not doing it all for profit, but hoping to make a profit.

You are supporting all of this, you are also supporting a new way of doing things, you are sending a message to the powers that be that there is a better way, that things can be done differently, it doesn’t have to be all about large scale intensification of agriculture to the detriment of biodiversity and our countryside.

We aim to make sure we are supplying you with the very freshest, best tasting healthiest produce. We aim to make sure it is as if you picked it yourself. It is a difficult business to be in: growing, handling and delivering fresh produce, that is why there are so few doing it. It is hard to get it right, not saying we always get it right, but when we don’t we will be the first to admit it and set it right straight away.

You are supporting local jobs in rural Ireland, you are keeping a community alive, you are supporting a different way of life.

Thank you for placing your trust in us.

Kenneth

Get your organic fruit, veg and grocery orders in now for delivery next week.

Lots of Small Changes

Do small changes make a difference?

When I was younger, I believed that by convincing my parents to recycle glass bottles and joining Green Peace that we would make a difference, I was utterly convinced, I never doubted it for a second, I knew the planet was precious and that our changes made a difference.

All young children have a connection with nature and they believe they can do anything, so what happens as we grow up? Why do we lose that sense of value for the natural world that we had as children?

When we started the farm, I believed growing sustainable food would change the planet, and that all we needed was a tractor, some seeds and we would have a successful farm. When we expanded into Dublin, I believed we would finally be able to reach enough people to get the farm and the business running smoothly and start to make a real difference to what and how people eat. At times on this journey, I became disillusioned. The pressure and stress, the financial hardships, the decisions, the fighting to do the right thing when it seemed it was all going against us made me question why we were doing what we were doing. But ultimately, we stayed the course and stuck to our principles.

I am not sure how long it normally takes, but it took (and continues to take) a long time to realise  that no one change in isolation changes anything. Real change and success is built on lots and lots of little things done consistently over time. This is as true for building a new habit as for fixing the planet.

Maybe one by one and little by little all our changes taken together can effect real change. Maybe your choice to plant a tree, to avoid weed killer, or to tell you kids about biodiversity and educate them in the beauty and preciousness of nature contribute to real positive change.

By buying from us you are effecting real change, you are choosing a different way to eat and are supporting serious changes behind the scenes.

On the farm we produce some of our electricity by a 11kW solar panel array on the roof of our packing shed. We farm organically, we grow trees, and hedges and flowers and food. We use paper and compostable plant-based bags, we reuse our boxes, we aspire to zero waste and being carbon neutral.

Your choice to support us means you are one of a community that are choosing a new and better way to eat, you are supporting farming and food for a better planet.

Does it matter? Does it matter that you support a zero-waste circular economy, a sustainable means of growing food and a better food future, does that matter?

Well in my book that does matter, it matters a lot.

Thank you for your support.

Kenneth

PS. Get your orders in for next week here. Fruit and veg boxes, groceries, treats and more – all organic and carefully sourced from sustainable businesses when not home grown.

Let’s Plant Some Trees

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago the next best time is now”

I realised it was 2004 when we planted our first trees, three thousand in total in that year. Those trees are now not too far off the 20-year mark. This realisation was scary, time flies.

I have been thinking about trees over the past few days. We promised that we would plant a tree for every Christmas box ordered.

In total we had 700 Christmas boxes out of about 1500 orders, and we aim to plant over 1000 trees as a result.

In trying to figure out the best trees to plant, we decided we wanted something native, that supports biodiversity but does not block out too much light as we will have to plant crops close to these trees, and we settled predominately on the hawthorn.

It is such a wonderful native Irish tree, its colours through the year are magnificent from the amazing white blossom in May to the beautiful red of the leaves in autumn. The hawthorns as also a haven for biodiversity.  We will plant 1000 hawthorn interspersed with oak, mountain ash, birch and Scots pine.

Hawthorn is also considered a magical tree and forms a significant part of our rural heritage here in Ireland, being heavily associated with Faery rings.

In choosing the hawthorn we wanted to re-establish a natural hedge along our boundary walls to replace fifty fully grown hawthorn threes that were cut down by one of our neighbours some years back. These trees could have been over 100 years old; I was saddened and angry by this but unfortunately cutting trees and clearing ground is a story that plays out up and down our country.

Trees are amazing plants, not only do they provide nearly all the oxygen we breath, under the ground they form a symbiotic relationship with a vast network of fungi called mycelium. The tree provides the fungi with food and the fungi provide the tree with nutrients. This relationship demonstrates the interconnectivity of all living things. It is in short, a miracle of nature.

It is a missed opportunity that the powers that be, the system, the rules and regulations do not put tree planting at the very heart of land management. It seems like such a simple step, one that costs very little, takes very little energy, and yields for generations to come.

If we focused a small amount of the investment allocated to such technological advances as carbon capture to planting trees, taking care of our soil and protecting some of the ancient forests left on our planet then we would have a chance at reversing the damage mankind has done to our only home.

Our 5th Pledge for the Planet is to take another step towards being a carbon neutral business, but we plant these trees primarily because we can and because it is the right thing to do.

We will plant 1000 trees in the next month or so and you can join us on Instagram stories to follow our progress.

Our 5th Pledge for the Planet

It is only through your support that we can do things like this, you make this tree planting possible.

Thank you


Kenneth