A Glimpse into our World

“Knock knock open wide, knock knock anymore, come with me through the magic door” do you recognise this? I thought I would bring you through the magic door of this last week on our farm. 

Frozen kale and purple sprouting broccoli, frozen cabbage and sprouts, frozen swedes and beets and leeks, frozen ground with parsnips and carrots, lettuce and spinach in our tunnels frozen, luckily, all survived but harvest was impossible. We had anticipated poor weather conditions in January and had prepared by bulk harvesting many of the more stable crops, like swede, parsnips, beetroot and carrots and we were lucky to get some greens harvested before Monday as all work on the farm came to a halt on Monday. We had also taken the pre-emptive step of getting all our other supplies in before the 1st because of Brexit. All of this did not prepare us for week 1 of 2021. It has been a challenging week, we have been insanely busy for many reasons, the lock down contributing its part and we have struggled. 

Normally you will never hear of any of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into getting your boxes onto your doorstep, and rightly so. This week though, I thought it only right to give you a glimpse into our world. This week getting organic produce has been difficult, one of our main Irish organic farm suppliers cancelled two very large orders due to pressure from supermarkets to get produce out because of the lockdown, our Irish mushroom supplier could only give us half of our normal order. A supplier we work very closely with in Spain cancelled all their key produce, their organic farmers were also struggling with an intensely and unusual cold spell that had brought production to a rapid end.

The icing on the cake was Brexit which has meant further delays and requirements for extra paperwork and customs checks. There has been the behind the scenes scrabbling to get produce, the delays of pallets arriving, the poor-quality produce that has to be graded by hand because of frost damage, the long conversations, the hundreds of phone calls, all remains hidden. The turmoil of the crazy packing, the days have been exceptionally long, and it takes two shifts, the first one starting at 5am and the final one leaving at 10.30pm most days to get your boxes out the door. The temperature in the packing shed has been close to zero on most days and the packers have put in a phenomenal effort.

The frozen tractors that won’t start in the mornings, the fleeces that need to be added to the crops to keep the produce from freezing, the numb fingers and the layers upon layers of clothes that are worn to maintain a modicum of normal body temperature – these are the things you will not usually hear about. The crazy amount of administration and the long hours of the admin team and the tireless work of the drivers who are putting in long, long days in treacherous driving conditions to get the boxes onto your doorsteps.

Usually, the result is the same, the boxes go out, they get dropped to your door on time with what you expect. This week was a little different for some of you and for that I apologise. There have been delays, contents in boxes have been changed, and some items were not available to send to you.

Next week will be better. We are grateful as always to be of service and to have the business when many don’t. We know we are lucky and most of all we are thankful for your understanding, patience and continuing good will and custom.

Kenneth

PS. Ordering early or setting up a weekly subscription helps us a lot so please get next weeks orders in here or email us to set up a subscription (for Dublin and Wicklow addresses email dublin@greenearthorganics.ie, for everyone else email info@greenearthorganics.ie and our friendly team will call you back and get you set up).

All of our set boxes are plastic free and much of our grocery list is too.

Beetroot, Walnut & Lentil Ragu

Ragu is a rich, slow cooked pasta sauce, traditionally made with meat and served with a wide pasta like pappadelle or tagliatelle. Of course you can also eat it however you like – with polenta or in layers in a lasagne with a béchamel? I love it with rigatoni, those large, ridged tubes of pasta pick up the sauce beautifully. My version uses earthy beetroots, satisfying green lentils and crumbled, rich, fatty walnuts. Delicious! Did you know we sell organic lentils and walnuts in our grocery section? If you have a slow cooker, this is a good one to get going in the morning and enjoy for supper. Simply boil some pasta and you’ve got a hearty, healthy meal ready to go. The ragu also freezes well so I always make a big batch and freeze some for a rainy day. And we are not short of those right now are we?

If you make this recipe please share it with us on our friendly facebook group, and please feel free to share this blog post with your friends and family of course! The illustration above is from my 2021 recipe calendar. While stocks last I’m including a free one with every book order this month. You can add my cookbook to your shopping here. Thank you.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4 generously)

Method

I usually start a ragu with a soffritto. Soffritto is the word for gently cooking diced vegetables (usually onion, celery and carrot) in a little oil until soft to provide a base flavour to build a sauce, soup or stew from. In this case start with 1 diced onion, 1 large diced beetroot (or 2 small – just give it a scrub and don’t bother peeling, also finely chop & add the purple stalks from any leaves should you be lucky enough to have some – save the green leaves to wilt as a side), 3 diced cloves of garlic and a generous handful or two of crumbled walnuts. If you have celery to hand then definitely add a few diced stalks for extra depth of flavour! 

Sauté the diced vegetables and nuts in the tbsp of olive oil in a large pot until soft. Then add a mug of green lentils, 2 bay leaves, 3 sprigs of thyme, a glass of red wine & a tin of chopped tomatoes. If you prefer more Italian herbs with this sauce then sub the thyme with some fennel seeds and a pinch of dried oregano. Add a tin of water or veg stock to swirl out the last of the tomatoey juices from the tin. Season with salt and black pepper.

Simmer until the lentils are cooked through then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. This will take a minimum of 30-40 minutes, but if you have time to simmer for longer, the flavours will be richer. This is one of those sauces that is even better the next day. Keep an eye on the liquid levels as the lentils will absorb a lot. Add more water/stock as needed and give the pot a stir every now and then to prevent sticking.

Serve tossed through pasta or in a warm bowl with soft polenta and wilted greens. 

Get hold of some of our beautiful, organic beetroots when they are in season, sign up for a veg box subscription!

Plans, Progress and Polytunnels

Our very first polytunnel going up in 2005. Expertly erected by Jenny, my dad and myself! The little stone shed is where my grandad used to bring in the sheep when it was lambing season.

When we set out 15 years ago to create a farm and a home delivery business, we didn’t think further than the next week or two. We were convinced that what we were doing was necessary, driven by a deep desire to take care of the planet. Most business advisers would not buy into that, no plan, no detailed analysis of figures, no projections, it was effectively a week to week operation.

Looking back, although there wasn’t a detailed plan, there was a definite direction. I think anybody who starts a business, if they are honest, will tell you things don’t always turn out the way you expect. We did not know what to expect and really had no idea what we were doing. I was not trained in business or organic farming; I was a trained scientist! The road to present day has been tough, the goal posts kept changing and the challenges changed sometimes daily. But our ideology kept us going (just!) and kept us on the right track. Our vision was always strong and the core belief to protect our planet meant we kept on ‘keeping on’, kept on showing up even and especially on the days when we really didn’t want to get out of bed, to face the reality of the tough choices and hard work ahead.

Today we do have detailed plans, figures and projections. All the necessary evils to keep a busy business and farm afloat. If the last fifteen years have been challenging, this year has been exceptional. It has been tough for so many, the virus has changed everything and even the best laid plans have been thrown out the window, it almost feels like being back at the start again. We have not known, week to week, what to expect and we have been the lucky ones! We have been very busy and we are eternally grateful to you for that.

The ups and downs and the challenges and anxieties of this year have kept many people up at night. Businesses that don’t know if they will ever open again, the jobs that may be lost, the fear and anxiety in society, but there is so much hope also. Never in my years of sea swimming have I seen so many people embrace the sea, never have I seen so many people out on bicycles and walking and running and being out in nature. This brings a remarkable positive energy, because if more people are happier then that will rub off on others too.

Our shopping habits have changed too, we have all had to embrace the inevitable move to online shopping, but can we do that online shopping a little more wisely? Can we support local while online rather than funnelling the funds into the pockets of a very large and extremely powerful retailer(s)? Can we again bring our support back behind small local businesses that will need it now more than ever?

We too are asking you for your support. Can you get your fruit, veg and sustainable groceries from us? Can you give the gift of a Christmas veg box or hamper to a friend or family member? Can you support other local businesses too? We have a helpful guide here where you can find a few ethical and local businesses that we recommend.

This year has brought us back into the uncertainty of operating day to day and week to week, but one thing that has never changed is our commitment to growing safe, sustainable food. We wouldn’t be here today without your support, thank you so much.

Kenneth

PS Our Christmas shop is open, get your orders in now! 

Blackberry & Pear Clafoutis

Clafoutis is a classic French cake which is actually more like a pudding. Traditionally made with cherries, it’s best served scooped out of the flan dish whilst still slightly warm, with whipped cream or natural yoghurt – I recommend plant based versions of those of course! It is also delicious served like a cake – cold, in slices – but doesn’t stay fresh much longer than 2 days. If you plan to serve it cold, then I recommend baking it in a lined or loose-bottomed cake tin so that it can be turned out onto a plate in one piece. Otherwise bake it in a flan dish or baking tray for the pudding version. This is one of those cakes that can easily be made gluten free by doing a straight substitute with gluten free flour. I always add a little extra liquid when using gluten free flour as it tends to need more hydration than regular wheat flour, so up the oat milk a little if you make it gluten free.

If you’ve not baked with aquafaba before, it’s a bit of a revelation! Aquafaba is the viscous liquid result of boiling beans or chickpeas. You can get it by draining a tin of white beans or chickpeas over your mixing bowl. Aquafaba is a really useful product which is normally washed down the sink. It’s an egg white replacement and with a little effort can even whisk up into meringue. I usually make sure I get the unsalted tins of beans/chickpeas for baking cakes, but the salted version also works absolutely fine. Salt actually enhances the flavours of fruit and sweet dishes, but I usually just use a pinch. So if you are using the aquafaba from a salted can of beans/chickpeas, then leave out the recommended pinch of salt and just taste the batter and see if it could do with a little extra sugar before you bake. I make a savoury version of this recipe too which I will share another day, think cherry tomato or asparagus clafoutis…perfect for summer lunches with salads.

The pears from the farm are so delicious and in season right now. So I’ve made this seasonal variation of my cherry clafoutis (recipe illustration from my book below) with pear slices and frozen blackberries. You can use any fruit you like of course. In Spring I love making a rhubarb version where I drench the raw rhubarb chunks in elderflower cordial and then sprinkle some flaked almonds on top of the batter before baking. Raspberry clafoutis has got to be my kids favourite. What fruity combinations will you try?

💚 Liz

Did you make this recipe? Let us know how it went in the comments below and share it with your friends. If you like this recipe, you’ll love my book. Add it to your usual order at Green Earth Organics.

Illustration from my cookbook, Cook Draw Feed – available to add to your next order here.

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • Pears – 3 or 4 ripe
  • Blackberries – frozen or fresh – a couple of handfuls
  • Aquafaba – from 1 tin of white beans/chickpeas, normally around 150ml
  • Caster sugar – 100g
  • Plain flour – 200g
  • Baking powder – 2 tsp
  • Salt – pinch (leave out if using aquafaba from a salted tin of beans
  • Oat milk – 3 tbsp
  • Olive oil or Rapeseed oil – 4 tbsp
  • Vanilla – 1 tsp
  • Icing sugar – 1 tsp or so for dusting
  • Whipping cream or Yoghurt to serve

Method

This pudding is really simple to put together. Core and slice your pears and arrange them in a flan dish or baking tray. Sprinkle over some frozen or fresh blackberries. Then make the batter, all in one mixing bowl. You’ll need an electric whisk and a mug to use as a measuring device.

Drain the aquafaba from a tin of white beans or chickpeas into a mixing bowl. Use an electric whisk and fluff up the aquafaba by whisking on high for a few minutes..

Add half a mug of caster sugar (the cane sugar from our shop works too) and whisk again until creamy. This recipe, like most of my recipes, is very forgiving. I usually don’t bother weighing the ingredients. The aquafaba from a regular tin of beans/chickpeas is normally around 150ml but it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit over or under that. For the sugar, I just half fill a mug and tip it in…but you can weigh 100g if you like.

Then fold in a mug (or around 200g) of plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt. It doesn’t have to be fully incorporated at this stage. You’ll be adding the liquid next and that will help bring it all together. The trick to a tender cake crumb is not over-mixing the batter, so just gently fold the dry ingredients in.

Then add the 3 tbsp oat milk, 4 tbsp oil and 1 tsp vanilla and gently stir until you have a fairly smooth batter. I used a gorgeous, cold pressed rapeseed oil this time and it gave the batter a beautiful golden hue and was delicious!

Pour the batter over the fruit and gently smooth it out using the back of the spoon. It will spread and rise in the oven so don’t worry if there are any small gaps around the sides of the dish.

Bake the clafoutis at 175C for 20 minutes or until browned on top and the batter is set. A larger dish will make a shallower cake which will only take 20 minutes, a smaller dish will make a deeper cake which will take longer – just keep an eye on it.

Dust with icing sugar and serve warm as a pudding, or cold in slices as a fruity cake. Enjoy!

Waterlogged but Never Wavering

When it rains look for rainbows, when it’s dark look for stars.

Oscar Wilde

I came out of my office last week, I had no inspiration, I didn’t have anything to write about, I definitely wasn’t in the right space and I was getting frustrated.

I decided to see what was going on out on the farm and I bumped into Emmanuel and shared my woes. Write about “Muck and rain, and mud, and clay and rain, and water because that about sums up the week just past” he said.

That was it, he had hit the nail on the head, it was wet.

Some places in the fields the water is a foot deep. The beds we planted on in the summer are submerged, the plants with waterlogged roots struggle to breath. It is ok for a few days but if there is prolonged water, then they die.

Walking up a sticky, muddy field with a bag of kale on your back must be one of the very best work outs you can get. If you have ever had a young child wrap themselves around your foot and not let you go, well that is what the field does.

I got the impression last week that even our poor tractor was not happy.

The ruts from the tractor wheeling’s are deep and although Joe (My seven year old son loves them, in fact he would actually disappear into some of them) it does not make for easy navigation when it comes to driving with a tonne of parsnips on the front of the tractor.

In the cold wet weather, you often find yourself with three or four layers of clothes on and waterproofs and wellies and sweating even though it is freezing and wet. This I think is one of my least favourite ways to pass the time.

But the sun is always there, we may not always be able to see it, but it is always up there over the clouds. It is only because of the clouds and the rain that you see the most beautiful skylines, the most stunning sunrises, and the most fantastic evening sunsets. These skyscapes are more striking at this time of the year that in high summer by a long way.

Then of course there is the food.

We are doing, I think, our bit for the planet. We are growing sustainable food on a scale that supports thousands of people each week. When I first wrote this, I thought it could not be true, but then I did the maths. If we do an average of 1500 deliveries per week and each household has an average of 3 people then that is 4500 people, that is a lot of mouths to feed, that is a large responsibility to do things right. That is a lot of trust put in us by you.

I shocked myself with that revelation, a far cry from the first 26 deliveries we did in May 2006.

So, we will get stuck in again on Monday, harvest more food, deal with the mud and the rain, do our bit for sustainable food, do our bit for climate change, because we have to.

Can you sustain a path such as this without being either clinically insane (and that could be the case) or having a belief in something bigger? For us I like to think it is the latter (but who is to say really). Our big “WHY” is the planet, nature, biodiversity, and every living creature we share this earth with deserving a chance. This is what drives us on. Have a look at our 5 Pledges for the Planet to see our promises as a business.

As always thanks for your support, it’s what keeps us going.

Kenneth

PS Don’t forget to place your order for next week here.

Who We Are

We (Jenny & Kenneth Keavey) started Green Earth Organics box delivery scheme in 2006. Our organic farm is situated 8 miles from Galway City. Originally the land was my grand-father’s and then my father’s and finally I took over the farm 14 years ago. I put the farm into conversion for organic status in 2004. 

Currently we are farming on 40 acres of organically certified land. Another 10 acres is split between, a wild life biodiversity area, native woodland forestry (3000 trees) and red clover/grassland. 

If you would like to visit our Farm Shop you can find directions to the farm here.  Or you can simply order online direct from us.

  • We deliver to every county in Ireland  click here for more details about the ordering deadline and delivery days. 

 We are certified organic by IOFGA – more info here and please note that EVERYTHING we sell is organic. 

Our aim at Green Earth Organics is to minimize the impact of our farm on the environment. We do this by growing our produce in an organic and sustainable way, by generating our own electricity using solar panels, and by harvesting the West of Ireland rainwater to wash the freshly picked veg and to water the plants in our tunnels. As a business, we are striving to be carbon neutral and we’re actively looking for ways to reduce and eliminate the plastic packaging in our boxes. 

All our boxes are PLASTIC FREE, we use plant based bags for salads and greens, but the original box is still available. We have a special ‘Zero Plastic‘ Veg box  which you can order here.  All other fresh produce is packed either loose or in brown paper bags which we take back and re-use every week. We  also have a box that contains 100% Irish Veg which you can order here. Thank you for your support – we really appreciate it.

 

Currently there are 35 employees in total – across the farm, packing team and the admin staff in both Galway and Dublin. We also take on students and interns and employ seasonal workers at certain times of the year.

We have 6 polytunnels and grow a wide range of crops both indoors and in the field. Over the course of a year a typical seasonal box will contain 80% local organic produce. We buy produce from other Irish suppliers, and we also import organically certified veg and fruit in order to be able to offer a full selection of produce year round. 

At Green Earth Organics we care deeply about the environment, and believe that people should be able to choose foods that are grown as nature intended, taste fantastic, and add to their wellbeing. We aim to have sustainability and health in the centre of all business decisions we take. 

Where to buy our produce: 

Liz Child

Kenneth has asked me to share my recipes, illustrations and writing on Green Earth Organics brand new blog and I am thrilled and honoured to be trusted with this task. I am new to this beautiful part of the world so I thought I should introduce myself. I’ll be adding more bios to this section of the blog soon so keep an eye out for those, but someone has to go first.

My name is Liz Child and I am a chef, illustrator, writer and a wannabe food forest farmer. I grew up in Zimbabwe and moved to the UK with my family in ‘99 when I was 14. At 22, after completing my degree in Fine Art, I started a vegetarian cafe in Canterbury called The Veg Box Cafe with my husband Adam. We had a bit of a rollercoaster of a time during our 12 years of running the cafe, as is the way in the food industry, but we stuck with it and learned so much along the way. We sold the business in March 2020 so I could focus on my writing and illustrating and to follow our dream of moving to Ireland to start a mini food forest. The dream is to have a go at living as low impact a life as possible. As I write this we are still in the very early stages of trying to make that happen so watch this space to see how it unfolds.

I also wrote, illustrated and self published a cookbook last year based on the 12 years of honing my own brand of relaxed, instinctive cooking at the cafe. The book focuses on celebrating seasonal vegetables and is packed full of easy ways to make vibrant, wholesome meals from humble ingredients. It is a unique book, full of hand drawn recipes and is such a useful accompaniment to a veg box delivery scheme. You can add a copy to your delivery here if you like. I’ll be sharing recipes from the book as well as lots of new ones here on the recipe section of the blog too so look out for those. I’m particularly obsessed with fermenting every vegetable under the sun, so expect lots of funky ideas on how to make the most out of your brilliant veg boxes from Green Earth Organics.

At present I live in County Galway with my husband, 2 children and our scruffy spaniel, Rey. I split my time between looking after the kids, recipe development, flogging my cookbook, illustration jobs and managing the blog, and I try get away from the desk to get outside as much as possible. In my spare time I love walking, foraging and planting and dreaming about our future food forest retreat. You can follow me on Instagram or Facebook @cook.draw.feed for a behind the scenes view of the freelance cheffing/illustrating/writing/parenting mayhem that is my life.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Over to you. Tell me about yourself in the comments. What are your dreams? What kind of recipes would you like me to work on for you? Are there particular ingredients you feel stumped with?

Liz x