Our Food Shouldn’t be Scary!

Our organic farm is situated is in rural Ireland and it is beautiful in its own way. It’s vibrancy is defined by a myriad of greens, that supports an amazing array of biodiversity.
 
Over the last couple of months have you noticed fields with the now all too familiar bright iridescent yellow of dead vegetation?
 
These fields are yellow because multinational global corporations have forced their tendrils into every aspect of our food system and they do not have the good of you or I or nature at the heart of their operations.
 
These companies make it their business to ensure their profits grow whatever the expense even if the cost is our health and the health of our planet. These yellow fields represent what we are told is best practice by advisers. This is complete rubbish, it is anything but best practice.

Over the last couple of months, I had forgotten how grounding growing food is. On a sunny day walking through the crops, you feel alive.  It’s the vibrancy of nature that recharge us, don’t we have a duty to protect this fragile system of life?
 
Using chemicals to fight nature will never work. In the short term it may give a temporary reprieve from a certain disease or pest, but that pest will come back stronger and more resistant next time. It is in a way a self-perpetuating industry.

I spent a good percentage of my early life studying and working with chemistry and I am thankful for the many benefits modern science makes possible, but synthetic toxic chemicals have no place in our food chain, end of story.
 
The active ingredient in Roundup: glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in human history, nearly 10 billion kg have been used globally.  It is a probable-carcinogen and it now contaminates most non-organic food stuffs. It has caused the dead yellow fields that you may have seen.  The pinnacle of this madness is the application of this chemical to wheat crops right before they are harvested to be ground to make flour. It stays in the flour that is used to make our bread.
 
This invisible cocktail of chemicals in and on conventional food is not good for our health.  It damages our health and does untold damage to nature and biodiversity.

Organic agriculture is much more than saying no to the use of chemicals, it represents a holistic approach to working with nature, to our land and to our food. It means taking care of the soil and the land and it means producing food that tastes fresh and good and crucially is safe and good for our health and for the environment.
 
If we want to have a resilient agricultural landscape for future generations to enjoy, that can withstand the pressures of climate change, then conventional chemical wisdom is not the way.
 
Here’s to fresh organic food.
Kenneth

Look after yourself and your loved ones with organic food. We deliver to every address in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Place your order here.

Weed Control & Roundup

Over the last couple of months, I had forgotten how grounding growing food is. On a sunny day or sometimes even better on a wet and windy day walking through the crops, or sampling the fresh harvest, leaves you feelingconnected to the land and alive.  It is easy to forget all of this.  
 
These days it’s very difficult to know how the food we eat is actually produced. How could we be expected to know?  Life is so busy, and supermarkets give us a shiny happy reality that is often disconnected from the real food production processeshidden behind the scenes. 

The end of the growing season is a mad rush it always is and just when you think you are finished you discover you are not. We have finished planting, but the weeds have marched on relentlessly. This warm humid weather is ideal for cropgrowth but also for weed growth. 

This year our work apart from one or two mishaps has kept pace with the weeds. But our approach to weed control is notone of total dominance, quite frequently once you get the crops to a certain size the weeds are no longer a problem. 

In fact, they can provide a basis for a wide variety of life: flowering weeds that bees come to, the lush green undergrowth, a haven for a myriad of tiny creatures that would not be there otherwise. 

Thus, in turn providing food for the birds, and at times, the necessary predators such as ladybirds and hoverflies that feed on aphids. A natural ecosystem living below the giant shading leaves of the broccoli plants or cabbages develop. Each plant brings something different to the fray and generally none are unwelcome.

Now please do not misunderstand me, if we did not take a pragmatic approach to weed control and utilise all the tools at our disposal there would be no crops, no food, and no farm. We have worked extremely hard to ensure the crops are healthy and weed control is part of the process. No, our approach is just different, less harsh and embraces the idea that yes, we can work with these other plants, and they too have a place on our farm. 

Conversely conventional farming relies on the iron fist of chemicals to control weeds, there is no room for negotiation here, the chemicals are designed to disrupt metabolic pathways in plants, they are generally systemic in nature (get absorbed into the plant and reside there after application, all the way up the food chain onto our plates), the weeds are removed, and the residues of the chemicals remain in and on the food. Just look at the side of any road sprayed with roundup, it is ugly and yellow and dead. 
 
Using chemicals to fight nature will never work. In the short term it may give a temporary reprieve from a certain disease or pest, but that pest will come back stronger and more resistant next time. It is in a way a self-perpetuating industry.It is not the way and IT IS CERTAINLY NOT OUR WAY.

Organic agriculture is much more than saying no to the use of chemicals, it represents a holistic approach to working with nature, to our land and to our food. It means no chemicals, but it also means no artificial fertiliser, it means tree planting, it means hedge planting, it means allowing nature its place to thrive while also producing food. It means taking care of the soil and it means producing food that tastes fresh and good and crucially is good for us and for the environment.

Here’s to fresh organic food!

Kenneth

PS: It is a strange time, normality is creeping back into our lives, kids are going back to school as are ours, routines if there are ones will be re-established. It has been a strange year, some things are certainly outside of our control, but we can control what we eat. Keeping good healthy fresh food in our fridge, means we are more likely to use it, and this means we will eat healthier and feel better, as we head into autumnaldays this is one sure positive step we can take.

Learning from the Past

Simone, our fantastic photographer, doing daily rounds on the farm snapped this lovely robin on our kale this week.

So much has changed in one generation.

I had the good fortune during the week to be brought on a trip back in time, back 80 years! A while back a very kind customer took the time to send me a paper clipping from 1939 featuring an article on seasonal vegetables.

Imagine food produced without artificial fertilisers, without toxic chemicals, not wrapped in plastic, produced locally. Our ancestors did not contribute to the mass of plastic pollution choking our planet. Plastic didn’t exist. My grand dad would have grown his own veggies, and if he didn’t grow it, he would have bought them in the local market or in a green grocer. Supermarkets didn’t exist back then. There was no such thing as Roundup the food was clean. Fresh produce was highly valued, it was not discounted, loss leading was not a thing.

Today we live in a world of, ‘everything and anything all the time’. It is amazing to have such choice, but there is a cost, a cost hidden behind the plastic: the chemicals, the exploitation of workers, the clearing of rainforests, the destruction of habitats, the pollution of our oceans. The list goes on. Supermarkets have played a massive part in this, but they are serving a need driven by us their customers.

Life seemed much simpler in my grandad’s day, life was certainly tougher, food was scarce at times, but the food was clean, healthy and did not leave a trail of pollution and destruction behind. We don’t need to return to a land of scarcity, but maybe a mindset change to see value in fresh food is required it is after all the building blocks that we put into our bodies every single day.

A particularly good quote that I enjoyed :

“The majority of people, unfortunately, are much too disinterested in their need for vegetables and salads to take serious steps to obtain the best value for money” “Fresh green or root vegetables….should be the staple part of every family dinner”

Being out in the rain and wind, harvesting leeks and pulling parsnips, is no fun, and it takes a certain calibre of person to persist with this work well into the winter. But this is seasonal food, this is the reality of local food production. The smell of freshly harvested parsnips, is quite frankly amazing, covered in muck they feel alive and real and you get the feeling that just by holding them in your hand you are doing something positive for the planet!

Producing good clean food, while respecting the ground beneath our feet that gives us so much deserves to be valued. Because if we don’t value and respect the earth, then there will not be much left for the next generation to enjoy. I think food production has such potential to change our lives, to change the way we eat, to change how we work, to change our world.

Here’s to learning from the past!

Kenneth

PS All our fixed boxes are plastic free and that includes our Christmas boxes * and have been since 2018!

*The Mossfield IRISH organic cheese in the bumper box is wrapped in a plastic film.

Beneath our Feet

One teaspoon of soil contains more living organisms than there are people in the world!

They are the hardworking, unsung heroes of farming. I always knew these creatures were spectacular, but I had no idea they lived for so long or could do so much. I would go so far as to say that they are as important to our food production as the bees, we ignore their welfare at our peril. Charles Darwin thought they were important enough to spend 40 years studying them! You don’t hear so much about them, you don’t see them and I suppose they aren’t quite as photogenic as the honey bee, but they are extremely important and I love them. What am I talking about?

 If you haven’t guessed already, it is the humble earthworm. Earthworms live for about 7 years, and in their lifetime will compost about 7 tonnes of organic matter! These amazing little creatures take organic matter in the soil and convert it into food and nutrients for plants, by way of the worm castings they leave behind. They help aerate the soil, which allows for better water filtration and oxygenation of the soil for other microbes to thrive. This aeration prevents water logging and increases fertility. In a nutshell we would be in a pretty bad place without our underground friends. The soil beneath our feet is thriving with a beautiful complex interconnected myriad of life.  It is a shame, that many of the methods used to grow food in today’s large industrial agricultural system end up destroying the very biological organisms we rely on to sustain our environment.

It is hard not to bring the debate back to glyphosate. It is everywhere and in everything e.g. in non-organic food, wine, beer, in tap water, in urine and it has even been recorded in breastmilk. So much of the stuff is used and with such frequency that it is compromising our health and the health of our food chain and ultimately our planet. Glyphosate is toxic not only to the plants it kills, and the humans which consume the plants but also to earthworms. At least 6 studies have shown that glyphosate is damaging to earthworms, reducing their reproductive rates and reducing the rate at which they turn soil over. Earthworms have chemoreceptors and sensory turbercles on their skin giving them a high degree of sensitivity to chemicals and they avoid soil contaminated with glyphosate.

We can learn a lot from these little creatures. They quietly go about their work, improving our soil, helping us grow food and they know instinctively that glyphosate is something to be avoided. Maybe society should take a leaf out the earthworm’s book and avoid glyphosate too. The good news though is that organic farming does not use glyphosate (or any chemicals) so by buying our produce, you are not only helping the environment, but your own health too! 

Kenneth

PS Thank you for your continued support, we really appreciate it! All our boxes are organic and plastic free and we also have a great range of organic groceries that you can add to your fruit and vegetable order here.