Raw Courgette & Hazelnut Salad

We are in the midst of a classic courgette glut on the farm. Next week we’ll add some free courgettes to all the boxes, we hope you enjoy them. Expect lots of courgette recipes to come your way. We’d love to know your favourite courgette recipes too please! Let us know in the comments or over on our community Facebook group. I’ll start us off with this super simple salad. It’s so easy to make (just a matter of combining raw courgettes with a lemony dressing, then scattering over some toasted hazelnuts) and oh SO delicious! I have this salad often this time of year as a side to pretty much any meal, or it’s brilliant stirred through freshly boiled pasta or bulked out with a drained tin of lentils.

Liz x

Ingredients

  • Courgettes (2 small or 1 large)
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of half a small lemon (have you tried our new season verdelli lemons?)
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a handful or two of hazelnuts, toasted in a dry pan then roughly chopped

Method

  1. Using a potato peeler, slice the courgettes into delicate, thin ribbons. For ease, slice them directly over a serving platter or large salad bowl.
  2. Make the dressing by stirring together the olive oil, lemon juice and crushed garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the courgette ribbons. You could toss the salad now to evenly coat the ribbons with the dressing, or just leave it drizzly.
  4. Then toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until nicely coloured. Tip them onto a board and carefully chop them up a bit to make them go further through the salad.
  5. Scatter them over the dressed ribbons and finish the salad with a little sprinkle of flakey sea salt. We LOVE Achill Island sea salt for exactly this type of dish.
  6. Enjoy as is as part of a salad buffet or alongside a BBQ. Or make it a light, refreshing meal by tossing through some freshly boiled pasta or a drained tin of cooked green lentils.

Our Children & The Planet

I will never forget when myself Jenny and my dad put up our first polytunnel back in 2005. It was a milestone and like a dream come though, I will never forget it. 

We were so proud of ourselves, that was our first season growing food and we tried it all. We were so enthusiastic, we wanted all the plants in that little tunnel, aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers. If truth be known there was very little harvest from that tunnel in the first year. We had plants but little enough of the fruits of our labour! Nevertheless, this did not discourage us in any way.

We were on a journey we had closed the door on a different chapter of our lives, lives lived far from the land and with little connection with our food. Certainly, there was always a burning deep desire to do the right thing by the environmentand this our mad chance to embrace that vision. 

It was two years later in 2007 that our first child was born and that was a momentous occasion. I do remember many things from that day, but one that I am sure most people do not experience on the birth of their first child was the doorbellringing (We had a home birth) and a guy that was fixing a fridge on our van wondering if he could talk to me about a problem he was having. I think the noise in the back round ended that conversation swiftly.

Then we watched Hannah grow and at the age of two she was able to go and pick her own tomatoes and cucumbers from the polytunnel. When Ella came along it was clear she was going to be our earth child and she spent more time in those polytunnels than anybody else, I am surprised we had any tomatoes left to harvest for you, our customers. 

In hindsight remembering those moments and appreciating them seems like it was a perfect and ideal life. There was of course plenty of smiles but there was all the other stuff too. We were guilty of having no time, no money, and no energy, it was truly exhausting, starting a farm, a business and a familyat the same time. I would recommend that if you are embarking on this journey that you spread those events out a little!

But we got through. The days when we have had schools on our farm, and you see the amazed face of a child when they pull a carrot from the ground it makes you remember what is important

The journey has certainly left its scars, but it has also allowed a deeper appreciation of what we have, how lucky we are. If nothing else seeing the respect Ella, Joe and Hannah have for the environment is something that I am proud of. If we achieve nothing else on this journey, we will have achieved something positive.

Our job here is to spread a message that nature and our land are beautiful and precious, and all living things are to be respected. We as a business, a farm and individuals really do have an obligation to take care with our actions. It is on us all, of course we can all point the finger but what good does that do? We need to take responsibility for our actions and do the right thing, is that easy? Absolutely not. Is it necessary?Completely. Therein I believe lies our greatest hope for our children and all that we share this land with.

Have a fantastic week and thank you for sharing our vision and for your continued support.

Kenneth

PS. Have you signed up to our new repeat order system yet? It’s the best way to never forget your order deadline. Head to the website and give it a try, any problems use the Chat button or send us an email and we’ll get back to you in normal office hours. www.greenearthorganics.ie

We Need Your Help

We need your help. We need to survive the summer we have so much local organic harvest from our farm and other small organic farms here in Ireland and we have seen our customer base disappear over the last 5 weeks.

It has been a never-ending rollercoaster and so difficult one week to the next to predict what is around the corner. It is in times like these that we especially need to know why we are doing what we are doing. The irony of course is at these very moments we lose focus and just holding it together is all we can do. At the same time, it can be this singular dedication to a cause greater than ourselves that keeps us going. 

The little idea that a small farm here in the West coast of Ireland could help fix this planet, help fix our food system is our “WHY”. 

It has been a tremendously busy week on our farm. We have planted 70,000 leeks, our final planting of winter brassicas isgoing into the ground today. As I write some 50,000 plants are being transplanted ,that brings to a total brassica count of nearly 150,000 plants. That is a lot of locally grown food, all done of course without chemicals.

Kornel and Patrick have done amazing work in our polytunnels where our 1000+ tomato plants and several hundred cucumber plants are finally bearing fruit. This is one of my favourite moments looking on the well organised tunnels and tasting the amazing tomatoes.

Emmanuel our farm manager and his team of field workers have been working so hard. At this time of the year, it always feels like we are teetering on the edge of losing control, but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet.

Over the last couple of weeks finally we have had the ideal growing conditions and that has meant harvest season has burst upon us.  It also means we have had the perfect mix of too much work, an abundant harvest, planting deadlines slipping away and weeds in hyperdrive, it is frantic and will be for another week or two.

Then there is the backdrop of the week just gone where we have the lowest orders in 18 months right slap bang in the middle of our best harvest season and our highest cost base (covering holiday time, a team of 10 people on the farm from 2 in February, an investment of 6 months and nearly €100k to get to the harvest season)

What we are harvesting right now:

  • Lettuce green and red
  • Rainbow chard and Spinach
  • Courgettes and cucumbers
  • Some tomatoes
  • Cabbage, Broccoli and Romanesco
  • Kale green and black
  • Radish and Salad
  • Beetroot

What we are sourcing from other small organic farms week

  • New season IRISH potatoes
  • Scallions, fennel courgettes and cucumbers
  • Mushrooms
  • Fennel and French beans

It is worth mentioning I think and especially as it is plastic free July that we were the first company in Ireland to make all our boxes plastic free, reuse being the essence of our delivery service.

We need your help, we need to survive the summer we need you if you can at all to place an order, to tell your friends, your family, or your neighbours, tell everybody, bring us with you on holidays or donate a box to charity.

Thank you so much for your support.

Kenneth

Energy Bites

Energy bites do what they say on the tin. They are jam packed full of good ingredients – oats, nuts (or seeds) and dates – which give you a boost of energy and get you through the afternoon slump, power you up that hill on your hike or keep hunger at bay in the car on your way to your staycation. This base recipe is really handy to have in your repertoire. Make it your own by using your favourite nuts or seeds, replace the dates with apricots or raisins, add cacao powder or dried spices like cinnamon or ginger for different flavours, coat them in melted chocolate or roll them in sesame seeds or desiccated coconut. It’s fun to play around with flavours here.

Did you know, many of our grocery products like oats, nuts and dates are packed plastic free? We are always working on adding more plastic free products to the list too so keep checking back. Please share your favourite energy ball combinations with us on our facebook community group

Liz x

Ingredients (makes 20)

  • 1 &1/2 mugs of porridge oats
  • 1 mug of nuts (or seeds, or a mix)
  • 1/2 mug of pitted dates
  • a pinch of salt
  • a drizzle of maple syrup or honey
  • optional extra ingredients to taste (like melted chocolate, desiccated coconut, sesame seeds, cacao powder, cinnamon, ginger…)

Method

  1. Measure the oats, nuts, dates and salt into a food processor with the ’S’ blade attachment. (If you are making this in a blender, then divide it into smaller batches).
  2. Pulse the ingredients together, stopping frequently to stir and scrape down the sides. You are aiming for an even, sticky, crumbly mixture.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. This is where you can stir in some extra flavours or textures if you like. Some cinnamon or ginger? Make it chocolate flavoured by adding some cacao powder? 
  4. Now test the stickiness of the mixture by picking up a small handful and squeezing. If it sticks together easily you don’t need the syrup – this depends on the freshness and variety of the dates. Otherwise add a small drizzle of maple syrup and stir. Test again and add more syrup until you get the right consistency.
  5. Then squeeze and roll the mixture into little balls. If they are sticky enough you can roll them in seeds or desiccated coconut for extra flavour and fun. 
  6. Another fun option is to dunk them in melted chocolate and sit them on a tray in the fridge to set. While the chocolate is wet, you can sprinkle the bites with seeds or some flakey sea salt or anything you like to make them even more special.
  7. Otherwise they are fabulous naked, just the way they are! 
  8. Pack in an airtight container in the fridge and eat them within the week.

A Plea

Last year at the end of June I asked for your help, and I was humbled by the level of support we received. It is always with a great sense of irony that we head into July. It is the official end of the hungry gap. We are catapulted from a frenzy of farming activity and a dearth of harvest in early June to a level of activity bordering on the insane and an overflowing harvest basket. July is the time when we have a plentiful harvest, and it is the very same time that many of you break your routine with cooking. The last year has been difficult for all, and we all need a break, a break from the routine and lockdowns. 

This summer is proving to be the biggest challenge yet. We have increased our planting rates; we have developed relationships with other local organic farms and now when the time of Irish plenty arrives we find that you our customers are leaving us for all the usual reasons, holidays, not cooking, routines out the window and we understand completely. But the downturn this summer for us has been sharp and severe over the space of three weeks we have seen the level of ordering drop off dramatically, this is leaving us with so much surplus harvest with nowhere to go but back into the ground. 

This time of every year we also see a large increase in labour costs as we are now up to 11 people on the farm (all local lads this year which is amazing) and we have also hired many new packing staff to cover the extra work over the last few months and to cover holidays. It is a double downturn for us, as our costs go up dramatically and our sales go down dramatically. Anybody will tell you this is not a good way to run a business. The initial start of this growing season on our organic farm, seeds, plants, fertiliser (organic), compost, contractors and labour are very high, before you harvest even one bean. All of this is necessary to make the food in the fields happen.

Growing food at the best of times is not a money-making enterprise, far from it, we only ever expect the farm to break even and most years this is a stretch to achieve. We grow the food, because we love to do it, because sustainable agriculture is something we strongly believe in. We have PV cells generating our electricity, we have just invested in our first zero emission electric van, we collect our rainwater, we plant trees, and hedgerows, we use only plastic free packaging. We educate people on how important biodiversity is, and to get everybody involved in thinking about the planet and the environment, where our food comes and how it is produced is our critical philosophy.

All of this takes time and energy, it all costs money and at the end of the day although everybody wants to enjoy their job and although nearly everybody that works with us believes in our values and our mission, they still need to get paid.

So this is a plea, a plea to ask you to order next week, to find a way (if you can at all) to continue supporting us over the summer, to tell your friends and family to order from us, or if you can’t to pay your box forward to our Charity (Foodshare Kerry), just order a charity box online that we top-up with extra produce from the farm.

The boxes this week are loaded with the most amazing fresh local Irish organic produce, including, spinach, salad, lettuce, romanesco, cucumbers, kale, scallions, some even have new IRISH organic potatoes. The weather is meant to be hot so we figured a good helping of salad would be very much appreciated. So please if you can at all do order. Your support as always is very much appreciated.

Thank you!

Kenneth

PLACE YOUR ORDER HERE

Scramble, Kale Pesto & Miso Mushroom Toast

Weekends are for brunching and here is one of our favourites. The combination of fresh, vibrant green pesto, soft, wobbly scrambled tofu and juicy, umami mushrooms is just perfect!

You can make your own pesto very easily if you have a food processor or blender – I used my kale and pumpkin seed pesto that I’m making on repeat this time – or you can of course use a ready made one for ease. We sell a few organic jars of pesto in the grocery section of our shop. The scramble is simply a gently sautéed pack of organic silken tofu seasoned with salt, pepper and some chopped sun-dried tomatoes. And those gorgeous, meaty mushrooms are marinated with our new packs of umami paste then grilled.

What’s your favourite brunch? Are you a sweet or savoury person? Let us know in the comments.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4)

Method

  1. Cut bread and pop it in the toaster ready to go. Heat up a griddle pan (or fire up the grill in your oven).
  2. Slice the mushrooms in half and mix them with the umami paste and a drizzle of olive oil in a bowl. Then push them onto skewers and place them in a hot griddle pan (or on a tray under your grill) to cook whilst you get on with the scramble.
  3. Heat up a knob of butter (or tbsp of olive oil) in a medium-high heated frying pan. Open your pack of silken tofu, drain off any excess liquid and then pop it in the pan. Break it up gently with a wooden spoon or a spatular.
  4. Season the scrambling tofu with salt and pepper and then add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Keep the scramble moving and cook it for 5 minutes or so until it’s warmed through, but don’t break it up too much. It’s nice when there are still some larger pieces.
  5. Meanwhile turn the mushrooms in the grill to cook the other side and then toast the bread.
  6. Spread the toast with a thick layer of pesto, then divide the scramble and mushrooms between the plates.
  7. Enjoy whilst hot!

Kale & Pumpkin Seed Pesto

The new season kale coming out of our fields and tunnels is so stunning! We are adding it to all our meals. Don’t forget to add some to your next order! Here’s a quick and easy kale pesto recipe which is so handy, not just for pesto pasta, but for sandwiches and wraps, to spread on toast and top with scrambled egg/tofu, to toss through freshly boiled new potatoes… My recipe is dairy and nut free to make it allergen friendly (I use pumpkin seeds which are incredibly nutritious and ours come in compostable bags), but as always, tweak it to your liking with different nuts/seeds and cheese. And do share how you love to eat your pesto in the comments below.

Liz x

Ingredients (makes a jar like the one pictured above)

  • 100g kale – rinsed
  • 100g pumpkin seeds – toasted
  • 1 clove of garlic – peeled
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 a lemon – zest and juice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for a thin layer on top at the end)

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor.
  2. Pulse until the ingredients come together into a rough, textured sauce.
  3. Taste for seasoning and add more olive oil, lemon juice or salt as desired.
  4. Spoon into a clean jar and top with a layer of olive oil to keep it fresher for longer.
  5. Keep in the fridge and use within a week, or freeze for longer storage.

Harvest Begins

As I write, it is a beautiful evening, the sun has just emerged from behind a cloud and there is a golden bright sunset. It seems we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  It is not before time too as we fast approach the summer solstice.                                           

Food has always brought people together. Two generations ago the act of bringing in the hay was a sociable event, square bales were loaded onto trailers, picnics or sandwiches were often had in the fields followed by a cold drink at the end of the day, chat and talk and craic was had by all.

In our continued march towards bigger more intensive agricultural systems the people have all but disappeared from the fields having been replaced by machines.  This it seems is the price of progress and maybe to a certain extent it is necessary, but it makes me a little sad. Maybe it is nostalgia?  As a kid having brought in that hay, I remember the sun and the sandwiches and the people. But when I think a little more, I also remember the blisters and the terrible heat and scratchiness of having to heave those bales to the very top of a galvanised hay shed, those bit’s I do not miss.

The machines on our farm facilitate the work and we do everything we can to avoid having to hand weed vegetables rows that are nearly half a kilometre in length.  That job is no fun and where there is a smarter way to do something, we take it.

Finding solutions to repetitive work is a must on small-scale mixed organic vegetable farms and we do, but we still have people in the fields every day and our farm is active and alive with people, vegetables, and biodiversity. 

We have been working very hard over the last six months to get the farm to the point it is at now.

Even so it seems that there are not enough hours in the day to keep up with the work. Everything has reached a crescendo and the list has been growing, what to prioritise during those rare dry days has become a source of pressure behind the eyes, we can only just keep doing the first things first.

The work always gets done the question is can we get it done in time? If we miss a sowing date, we don’t get second shot, we never regain those lost days, and the plants may struggle to reach maturity.

It’s a relatively small window and for the farm to reach it’s breakeven point and that’s all we ever hope for, we can afford to miss very few of those planting dates.

Here we are on the cusp on July and the list of produce harvested from the farm is steadily growing week on week. The first fresh bunches of beetroot, our own kale, salad, lettuce red and green, spinach and chard are ready. The cucumbers are a week away and the new potatoes 2-3 weeks away, the first of our own tomatoes are nearly there too, all we need is the sun.

Then there is the irony that as we come into our own produce as the farm finally starts to crank up a gear and we start to harvest the freshest produce we face a downturn in orders due to summer holidays and this year the impact is even greater as the country opens.

I would ask if you can at all, continue to support our farm, help get us through the summer months, we rely on your support to keep doing what we do.

So as the sun sets, there is no hay to bring in, but I look forward to a dry bright day tomorrow as we have big day of harvest before us.

Thank you for your continued support!

Kenneth

Babaganoush

Babaganoush is similar to hummus, but made with aubergine rather than chickpeas. It’s softer, silkier and deliciously smokey! I always pop a few aubergines on the barbecue to make this dip. You can grill them in a hot griddle pan or roast them in the oven instead, but they won’t be as smokey. You’re looking to really blacken them on the outside and let them collapse and get silky soft in the middle. The blackened skin is then peeled off, then the flesh is blended (or mashed if you like more texture) with garlic, tahini, lemon and olive oil. Here’s my recipe for one aubergine. Serve with grilled or raw veg, salads, on toast or with pitta bread strips to scoop it all up.

Liz x

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon (or a tsp of preserved lemon purée)
  • OPTIONAL EXTRAS? A pinch each of cumin and smoked paprika and some pomegranate seeds and sesame seeds for garnishing.

Method

  1. Grill or barbecue the aubergine until it’s completely soft inside and the skin is burnt and blackened.
  2. Allow it to cool enough to handle, then slice it in half lengthways and scoop all the flesh out into a bowl to mash or blender to blend smooth. Scrape the skin carefully to get every bit of aubergine into the mix. Those bits nearer the skin have the best, smokey flavour.
  3. Add the garlic (crush or finely grate first if mashing rather than blending), olive oil, tahini and lemon.
  4. Blend or mash into a spoonable mixture, then taste and add salt and more lemon to taste.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a small serving bowl and top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and optional extras like pomegranate seeds, sesame seeds, smoked paprika, cumin…
  6. Enjoy scooped up with flatbreads or toasted pitta bread and salads.

Rainbow Chickpea Salad

A few tins of organic chickpeas in the kitchen cupboard are always so useful! One of our kitchen staples for sure! Whizz them into hummus, smash them and mix with mayo for a stunning sandwich filler, simmer them in curries and stews, use the aquafaba for making vegan mayo or cakes, blend up with herbs and spices and make veggie burgers or falafels, or simply mix them with a dressing and seasonal veg for a satisfying salad. Here’s the one we’re having on repeat at the moment. A gorgeous combination of colourful, fresh veg with a simple vinaigrette. Goes perfectly alongside a BBQ!

‘Eating the rainbow’ at every opportunity is also a fantastic (and delicious) way to ensure you are getting a diverse range of the essential vitamins and minerals you need from your food. Liz

Ingredients

  • 1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 drained tin of chickpeas (keep the liquid in a tub/jar in the fridge to use for something else)
  • a large handful each of chopped red onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, yellow pepper
  • the stems from a bunch of rainbow chard, chopped
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends snapped off and composted, the rest chopped at an angle
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • a little extra olive oil for sautéing
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional extra fresh herbs

Method

  1. Mix the mustard, olive oil and vinegar in the base of a large platter or salad bowl.
  2. Add the chickpeas, red onion, tomato, cucumber and pepper.
  3. Sauté the asparagus and rainbow chard stems with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until just tender. Then add them to the salad.
  4. Mix well, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.