I Am Angry

Have you ever felt you just do not fit in, you seem to be going against the grain, that you are different?

This thought struck me as I spotted a lonely white cabbage amidst a sea of black kale today.  Not too dissimilar to ourselves I thought, an outsider, not quite in the right place, definitely not fitting in, being different and not really caring what others think.

Of course, the cabbage is just being a cabbage (and probably not thinking a whole lot about anything, it would be wrong of me to suggest otherwise!), but it started me thinking.  

I continued on my crop walk through the fields and I spotted the most amazing intricate display of spider’s webs on one of our kale plants, it seemed that nature was vibrating and shouting look, look at me I’m doing my thing and I am beautiful.

Nature just works. And we have so little idea of how this amazing and complex interwoven web of life works.  All of the natural world links together and works, it just does, and it is truly amazing. Nothing is forced, it all flows, a natural cycle of life and death, always moving always flowing.

Who are we to impose our will and ideas on this beautiful planet without due consideration for all that we share it with? Who are we to extract all that we can by processes that are clearly exploitive, driven by profit? The price is simply too great and is not acceptable.

When will we realise that our habit of constant and increasing consumption are doing irrevocable damage? That our actions are taking away something beautiful, something we all need to be sane in an increasing insane world and only when it is gone will we notice and then sadly it will be too late.

Some days I get so angry, and I am past caring what people think (I guess age brings certain benefits.) But I am angry, and you too have a right to be angry too with the way we as human beings exploit this gentle and strong and beautiful energy that is our Earth.

We cannot compromise in our decisions, and to an extent this is why, even though I am inextricably linked to the world of business, I don’t have to like it.  Practising mindful, conscious, ethical business in a world that is driven by excessive consumption and low prices is difficult, but it is possible, and we do it. 

We have always committed to growing food in the most sustainable manner possible and only sourcing food from the most sustainable suppliers and paying them fairly.  We have always maintained that this is the only way to farm and to do business.

Like the cabbage in the field of kale we are most definitely outsiders, most definitely the underdog. We have a long way to go, we don’t always get it right, we struggle with the challenges but every day we try a little harder and face the challenges and pain head on.

So, for the sake of our planet let’s get a little angry together and make some changes.

Thanks for joining our movement, let us be the channel for your energy.

Kenneth

Let us deliver sustainably grown and sourced fruits, vegetables and groceries to your door if you feel angry too.

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

Carbon Neutral

Carbon neutral diesel, I came across this last week while filling up our car, I didn’t know there was such a thing.

We have a diesel car and for now we need diesel so I opted for the ‘carbon neutral’ option. 

3 things struck me. 

1. Initially the idea of offsetting carbon emissions by a multi billion dollar company that makes its money from selling  hydrocarbons struck me as false and green washing. 

2. At the same time,  if there is a way to help reduce the damage being done by burning oil then we absolutely need to have that option right now, but this should not give the oil companies an ‘get out of jail card free’.

3. It was more expensive, did I think twice about paying the extra? No, but that is one of my core principles and by extension one of the cornerstones of our business. 

As we are lucky and privileged to live in the first world are we not obligated to pay our share of the damage done to the climate  inherent in our lifestyle? Can we afford not to? 

Yes of course big business has a long way to go and needs to take action now. We all know we need to stop burning hydrocarbons but that will take a little time. But if these companies know that consumer behaviour is changing it will drive them in a greener direction faster and that is a good thing.

Right now we are using our first electric delivery vehicle for all our deliveries to Limerick and Clare and it is working tremendously well, our plan is to make all our delivery vehicles electric by 2025. 

Growing and selling sustainable  food is our business and it is an expensive business to be in and to do it right. 

We have always been at the forefront of sustainable change and we are taking the next step in that journey by being one of the first food delivery businesses in Ireland making deliveries in electric vans.

I am excited to think that by 2025 all our deliveries will be in 100% electric, zero emission vehicles. The ones in Galway will be powered from the solar panels on our packing shed.

Here’s to a greener delivery system. 

Kenneth

Get your organic, plastic free fruit, veg & groceries delivered to your door www.greenearthorganics.ie

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!

Wonderfully Wonky

Last year Joe my son found a potato and I don’t know if I should be alarmed or encouraged by the fact he wanted me to put it “online”. Joe is 7. He found this unusual potato and he wanted everybody to see it and funnily enough it tasted just as amazing as any other potato, but it certainly would not have made it onto supermarket shelves.

Finding unusual shaped vegetables for me is like a bonus, if we harvest carrots and find one that looks like it has two legs, or one like this potato we found last year, then we are delighted. They are funny and unusual and like nature are not uniform. Is there anything wrong with mishappen or “wonky” veg? Absolutely not, they taste the same, they were grown in the same sustainable way. Then why do supermarkets reject pallet loads of them because they do not meet “specifications” of “size” of “shape” or of “visual appearance”? They do, and it is a tragedy of modern times that we feel it is ok to dump food based on appearance.

A recent report on the factors that are most important to consumers when it comes to deciding on whether they will buy fresh produce or not is how it looks. I fault not a single person for this, it is hard not to be conditioned in this manner with our current supermarket led food chain.

A very involved and complex system has been developed to give us picture perfect produce at the lowest possible price. The look of the produce, no blemishes, straight carrots, no knobbly bits, shiny apples, picture perfect tomatoes is one of their major criteria when deciding whether to accept or reject a batch.

The reality of working with nature and growing food of course is that it comes in many shapes and sizes. There is so much beauty to be found in producing food, and not just on the surface, certainly Joe’s potato makes the cut every time in my book.

What is more important? How something was grown, or how something looks?

Here is the thing then, supermarkets make a massive deal about selling wonky veg, eliminating food waste etc but in reality they do very little! There should be “no wonky” veg, no grading out based on how something looks, knobbly bits and all. But that is not the way things are. If all we ever see is clean shiny picture-perfect produce, how will we react when we see something that is different, will we think possibly there is something wrong?

What about dirty veg? We send out our carrots, potatoes and parsnips with dirt on the roots. It makes sense, it keeps the produce fresh and therefore requires less packaging, because we have you, we can do it, we like it, and we get the impression you just might like it too! Please tell us if you do or if you do not!

As always thank you for your support, the wonky veg say thank you too!

Kenneth

A New, Better Green Revolution

Over a century ago the American investigative journalist Alfred Henry Lewis observed that there are only nine meals between humankind and anarchy. 

It is always there, the food on the supermarket shelves. It never runs out, but how tenuous is this link to our perceived food security?

Disruption to food production is a whole different level of vulnerability. Climate change is hitting agriculture hard. The frequency of drought, storms, extremes of temperature, are disrupting the very delicate balance in nature required to grow food.

As with business, in agriculture if you are running a system at maximum capacity it takes very little to upset the balance and cause the system to breakdown.  We are pushing our natural resources, we are concerned with ever more production.  We open-up pristine rain-forest land for massive soya plantations, we attempt to extract higher yields from our current systems. 

We are looking for a second “green revolution” we are looking to technology to help improve yields, to continue with business as normal.   

At the very same time where we require more food to feed a growing population, we are seeing variability in our weather systems never seen before, the hottest five years ever recorded all occurred since 2014.

It is such a privilege to be living during this period of prosperity in our Garden of Eden, should we not be doing everything we can to protect it, not destroy it.

The flow of food from field to fork is taken for granted. A major climatic shift could leave us very swiftly with food scarcity. I don’t know what real hunger feels like, but our ancestors in the 1840’s certainly did.

There is no greater or more urgent need than to deal with man-made climate change now.

Producing different food in more sustainable ways, eating differently, consuming less, using renewable energy there are the changes needed.  A transition starts with pushing the burden for the destruction of our planet back onto the companies that are responsible, oil companies and plastics companies, agribusiness and large-scale food business. These are the companies that now run the planet, they dictate what we do and how we do it.

There is so much we can do, our choices matter and we can start our own “Green revolution”

Kenneth

PS It is ironic that “the Green revolution” in the 1950’s was the term applied to the change in agriculture that embraced artificial fertiliser, consolation of farm land and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Thank you for joining the new green revolution by supporting our farm over supermarkets. You can set up a convenient veg box subscription by emailing info@greenearthorganics.ie or place specific orders over on our website www.greenearthorganics.ie

Many Lessons Learned

I remember growing potatoes, and funnily enough onions, with my dad when I was a young lad of nine or ten or so. Back then it was what you did, we used to have a big timber box in the shed, we would harvest the potatoes after the skin had “set” and fill the box for the winter.

If we knew there was a few days of sun coming, it was my job to climb up on to the top of the shed and lay out the onions to dry, I liked that. I guess I must have learned something back then.  

When we moved back to Ireland 17 years ago, I started growing vegetables again. The first carrots I grew were amazing, and I was proud of producing our food right there in our garden. It seemed the most sensible thing in the world to produce food locally and naturally without chemicals. My time working in the chemical industry had taught me chemicals belong in a lab and not on our food.

There were many lessons learned (and many we continue to learn) going from a few beds in the garden to a 40 acre farm, but the over-riding principle of producing food sustainably has never changed.

It seems to me that it is increasingly difficult, and downright irresponsible to justify taking decisions that do not put not the welfare of the planet at their core. We can no longer justify growing 80% of our crops to feed animals and growing them with excessive use of chemicals and artificial fertiliser.

For some it is easier to pretend that nothing is happening, and everything is going to be ok, that the people in charge know what they are doing and that they will make the right decisions. Thankfully some do, some businesses are embracing change, some leaders are showing that there is a different way, but there is still so much to be done.

Time is running out. Sugar coating the inevitable is not going to make climate breakdown go away, but how easy it would be to change our behaviour. We are on the precipice of rapid change. A new era of sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, a reduction in consumption and a new outlook is upon us, business as usual will be relegated to the back of the closet where it belongs.

We (you and I) have such an opportunity to lead the way, to be at the heart of a food and carbon revolution and it can start with the simple step of changing what we put on our plates. The most amazing thing about sustainable food of course, is that not only is it better for you and I and the planet, but it tastes so much better too.

As always thanks for your support. You can sign up to a veg box subscription by emailing us or order direct from our website here. Not only do we delivery the best organic fruit and veg, but a wide range of organic groceries too!

Kenneth

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