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.

Our Choices Matter

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

– Margaret Mead

At the fork, which path will you take?

I remember as a child picking peas in my Grandad’s garden. He had apple trees, he grew his own veg. I remember sitting on his lap drinking a mug of turnip juice, (I cannot imagine trying to get my kids to do that today!) most of the food was grown on his farm. Things have changed so much in a generation…

When was the last time you tasted a freshly harvested carrot, can you remember what it should taste like? There can be such pleasure in the simple foods, and there are of course remarkable ways to cook these amazing seasonal gems.

November is still a month of local seasonal plenty. It is now that the real Irish vegetables come into their own, leeks, parsnips, swedes, kales, winter cabbage, carrots, beetroot, broccoli, romanesco and cauliflower.

As an organic farmer, the arrival of November allows a sigh of relief. The relentless pressure of the summer is finally winding down and we are settling into a routine of harvest.

The trees are turning, the wild-flowers have gone to seed, the hedgerows are full of berries, the bees are getting ready to hibernate, even the birds are relaxing a little, everything seems to slow down. Something we could all do a little bit more of.

November too can be a time for reflection. As a farmer the simple things like tree planting, growing hedgerows and leaving wild patches can give immense pleasure. This is easy stuff that pays the most amazing dividends for the person and the planet, but in modern food systems it is often dismissed as nonsensical and left to one side in favour of production. The irony of course is that food production is facilitated and improved by all these positive things.

The impact of our food choices has far reaching and sometimes unimagined consequences.

Imagine clearance of pristine forests (by burning) to facilitate increased cropping land to produce GM (genetically modified) soya destined for the global animal feed supply chain that will end up on Irish consumers plates. This is a sad reflection of our times.

 Cheap food has a price and a story. The real stories are hidden behind the glitzy shiny wrappers, there is always a story and usually not a good one.

The truth ironically can be hard to swallow, but it doesn’t have to be like this.

There are amazing and positive alternatives. Our parents chose well, they ate seasonally and locally, they ate less meat. Who doesn’t remember cabbage and turnip and the endless ways to cook potatoes!

Maybe what we eat deserves a little more consideration because our food choices matter a lot and without the planet and the food none of the other stuff matters.

We have more power than we realise, which path will you choose?

As always thanks for your support, we really appreciate it. Stay safe and look after each other.  

Kenneth & Jenny 

PS We cannot wait to tell you all about our Christmas delivery schedule and our new gifting options – stay tuned!

Support us by signing up for a regular veg box delivery here.