This Year’s Tree Planting Has Begun

This past week marks the first of our tree planting that we began on your behalf. We are planting another 1500 trees and this is specifically because of your support.

You have enabled us to do this as well as so much more. Because we charge a little more for our organic produce we can take the steps we do take to grow food sustainably.

This is not all your support has enabled. The solar panels on our packing shed roof every day are generating clean electricity. The rainwater harvesting enables the watering of our tunnels with chlorine free water.

The hundreds of metres of hedge rows that we have grown and the preservation of old hedgerows, the sowing of wildflowers. Madly, the re-homing of two rescue pigs, who may I add are getting fatter and bigger by the day.

The resting of the land, the sowing of green manure to take carbon from the air and fertilise the ground. The production of crops without chemicals.

The delivery of your boxes without plastic, the collection and reuse of our boxes. The support for many local small-scale Irish business. The support of several local Irish organic growers. The purchase of only Fair-trade produce where it is available. Never air-freighting produce. Always looking to reduce food waste, never rejecting food based on looks or size, but making sure we keep a close eye on quality.

Not doing it all for profit, but hoping to make a profit.

You are supporting all of this, you are also supporting a new way of doing things, you are sending a message to the powers that be that there is a better way, that things can be done differently, it doesn’t have to be all about large scale intensification of agriculture to the detriment of biodiversity and our countryside.

We aim to make sure we are supplying you with the very freshest, best tasting healthiest produce. We aim to make sure it is as if you picked it yourself. It is a difficult business to be in: growing, handling and delivering fresh produce, that is why there are so few doing it. It is hard to get it right, not saying we always get it right, but when we don’t we will be the first to admit it and set it right straight away.

You are supporting local jobs in rural Ireland, you are keeping a community alive, you are supporting a different way of life.

Thank you for placing your trust in us.

Kenneth

Get your organic fruit, veg and grocery orders in now for delivery next week.

4 Ways With… January King Cabbage

A cabbage can be a tricky beast to use up and we get asked for cabbage recipes all the time over on our community facebook group. If you are stuck on what to do with the cabbage in your box this week, then this is the video for you. Although I used a beautiful January King from my weekly subscription box, of course the recipes can also be applied to a savoy cabbage.

These are just four of the many ways that I use up a cabbage regularly. Please share your favourite cabbage recipes with us and other readers in the comments. There can never be too many cabbage recipe ideas…especially at this time of year! Liz x

Cabbage Rolls (serves 4)

  • 8-10 outer leaves of the cabbage
  • 1 mug or so of leftover cooked short grain brown rice (or cook fresh. Simply measure 1/2 a mug of rice into a pot, add 1 mug of water and bring to the boil with the lid on, then turn down and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the liquid)
  • 10 minced mushrooms sautéed with garlic, salt and pepper
  • a tin of kidney beans, drained, rinsed and squished
  • a pot of simple tomato sauce (a sliced onion and 2 cloves of diced garlic fried in a little olive oil, simmered with a tin of chopped tomatoes, a little water, salt, pepper and a tbsp of dried dill)

Rinse your cabbage well and remove as many outer leaves as you can. I try to get 8-10 to feed the four of us.

Use a rolling pin to roll out and flatten the chunky stem that runs up the middle of each leaf.

Mix together the mushrooms, rice and kidney beans. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Then neatly roll up a couple of tbsp of the filling into each each cabbage leaf and tuck them snuggly into the sauce. They should be sealed side down so that they don’t unravel in the sauce. See video above for how to do that.

Put the lid on the dish and roast it in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cabbage leaves are soft and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve with tangy natural yoghurt, pepper, more dill and a slice of sourdough bread.

Cabbage & Apple (serves 4 as a side)

  • 1 sliced apple
  • shredded 1/4 of a cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
  • a small glass of cider/white wine/apple juice (or a tbsp vinegar and a glass of water)

Heat up the sliced apple with the butter/oil while you shred the cabbage.

Add the shredded cabbage and season it with salt and pepper. Let it cook down for a little while.

Once it starts to sizzle, add your liquid (cider/wine/apple juice/vinegar-water) and give it a good stir.

Pop the lid on the pot and let the cabbage and apple gently braise and soften for 10 minutes or so. This is a perfect side to a Sunday roast or with mashed potato, veggie sausages and wholegrain mustard!

Cabbage ‘Slaw (serves 4)

Mix the carrot and cabbage in a large bowl with the dressing.

Top with the nuts, seeds, chilli and spring onion.

Serve rolled up in soaked rice paper wrappers for crunchy, raw spring rolls. Or just eat it as it is or with some of our Thai rice noodles for a fresh and crunchy, zingy salad.

Cabbage & Coconut Curry (serves 4 as a side)

Make a tarka first by frying the cumin, mustards seeds, chilli, garlic and curry leaves in hot vegetable oil until very fragrant.

Add the sliced cabbage and season it with salt and pepper. Then add the ground ginger and turmeric and stir to coat the cabbage in the spices.

Add the juice of 1/2 a lime and a tin of coconut milk and simmer until the cabbage is cooked through but still a bit crunchy.

Serve as a side to other curries and rice. Or make it the main event and bulk it out by adding cooked potatoes and a drained and rinsed tin of chickpeas.

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

Growing Food is Grounding

The planning and preparation must begin now for the year ahead. We are still harvesting many of the root crops from last years planting which is providing us with good healthy Winter sustenance. January is the time of year that calls for hearty warm food, food that feeds both body and soul. Eating with the seasons fulfils something more primal than just hunger, innately it feels like the right thing to do.

‘Seasonal eating’, ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘climate breakdown’ – these buzz words are all linked. What we choose to eat has a massive impact on the environment. In these dark days, is it possible to choose seasonal sustainable food that will improve our wellbeing and maybe make these dark days seems that little bit brighter?

Whether you love sprouts or hate them they are the king of Winter vegetables and, like many of their Winter cousins, their taste is enhanced by cold. Carrots, parsnips, potatoes, leeks, cabbage green and red, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and swede are all amazing seasonal stars and our parents and grandparents would have enjoyed them all long before a red pepper ever graced our tables. The Irish climate has always favoured these crops, they thrive in low light and cold conditions and we seem to naturally gravitate to these foods in the colder months. This is all very good news for both us and the planet.

Although there is no arguing that food is a personal choice, is it possible that our individual freedom is coming into conflict with a personal and environmental health crisis? Our freedom to choose is limitless. But as we head into the new year, could we make a change and choose to be more mindful of where our food comes from? How it is produced? What is it packaged in? Breaking routines of convenience can be hard, we are all busy and it takes persistence, courage and discipline to maintain a new course, but if this year gone by has shown us anything, it is that routines can change overnight and new, better habits can replace them. Here are 5 achievable guidelines to help you tread a more mindful path with your food choices.

  1. Eat Local, Seasonal, Organic Food – in supermarkets look at the country of origin, choose Irish. Visit farmers markets that sell local and if possible organic food. Get a box of seasonal organic food delivered by us.
  2. Eat Less Meat – enjoy planet healthy whole-foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and grains. We have a great organic range of dried and tinned whole-foods in our grocery section.
  3. Avoid Plastic Clad Produce – buy loose in the supermarket if possible. Leave the packaging behind in the supermarket. Did you know that all our set boxes are plastic free?
  4. Cook From Scratch – this gives you more control over the source of your ingredients, and it can be very satisfying! Cook in batches which saves enormous amounts of time. We provide recipes in all our boxes and Liz over on our new blog provides easy to follow instructions to make great dishes.
  5. Grow Your Own – Spring will be upon us soon, and this satisfying act can rekindle a very basic respect for our food.

Here’s to a brighter and more mindful new year!

Kenneth

As always, our online shop is ready for your orders. Subscribe to a weekly fruit and veg box for ease, or build your own box. All the details on our website here. Thank you for your support.

Vegetable Values

What do you think about a major supermarket sending 12 pallets of pineapples (nearly 12,000 pineapples) to waste because they had some blemishes, where is the right in that?

Thankfully, charities such as Food Cloud exist and they stepped in to rectify the situation in this case. If they did not exist where would this food go then?

Fresh food is so devalued by supermarkets, it makes me want to cry! It does not benefit the consumer, we think it does but ultimately it does not. How can a supermarket sell onions for 49c? It is not possible to grow a kilo of onions for 49c.

It is the retailers whether it be Tesco or Amazon that hold the keys to the kingdom, they set the prices, they hold all the power, and we the consumer give it to them. They only care about the bottom line driven by profit. But when the damage is done, when the soil will no longer produce the food, what good will all the money be then?

Did you know that supermarket buying practices force the last few cents from the farmer? New supermarket buyers get targets to improve margins, they go straight to the farmer and demand better discounts. Is it really any wonder that young farmers might be disillusioned with the trade? There is a strike next week by farm workers in Spain demanding fairer working conditions and wages, all of this is driven by our cheap food system.

This practice of selling produce below its value, once unthinkable, makes cheap fresh food acceptable in the eyes of the consumers, and how would we be expected to think otherwise? It is everywhere we look, it has effectively been normalised.

On our farm this year we produced just short of a quarter of a million-euro worth of produce. We broke even, and that is with the farm team working flat out, and having crops grow well, it was a good year. If we had to sell all our produce at supermarket prices, we would have been gone a long time ago, so would the jobs and the people.

Imagine, instead of a race to the bottom, a system that allows for investment in the farms, in the people on the farms, in the biodiversity. A system that does not allow 12 pallets to be dumped because of a blemish on a few pieces, that does not require workers to strike for fair working conditions.

All we need, is to say “no more” to loss leading fresh produce.

I do feel a little better now for getting that off my chest and thank you for listening.

Thank you for your support, thank you for buying our produce, thank you for supporting local jobs, thank you for supporting local food production, thank you for supporting sustainable food production and thank you for sticking with us all year.

You make our farm possible.

Have a magical and safe Christmas.

Kenneth

Thanks From a Little Robin

The money you spend in a local business generally goes back into the locality. It is often the unforeseen and indirect ways in which that support matters, take Green Earth Organics today.

Recently we have collaborated with two local small businesses. Rachel who now makes chutney and cranberry sauce for us and Liz who now writes our recipes on our blog. In the last week we have had dealings with our IT support company based here in Galway, our two web developers one based in Athlone and one in Cork, our electrician and plumber based in Galway. Our van company based in Dublin, our tractor mechanic and van mechanic in Galway. I am just out of a meeting with our accountant, he lives locally. A couple of local builders and steel workers help us out regularly, our agricultural contractors, and the purchases we make in the local hardware stores and shops all send the money back into the locality. Not to mention all the IRISH suppliers we buy from weekly and of course our employees. Here is an interview Liz did with Franck from the French market.

Your purchase today or tomorrow pays for all of this. It is also a well-known fact that a greater percentage of money spent in a small business stays in the locality, while money spent in big retailers disappears into investors pockets, and we know a little bit about dealing with supermarkets. A few years back we stopped supplying supermarkets, we had had enough. Despite what their marketing blurb might say their treatment of growers is the same. The price of produce on the supermarket shelves often does not reflect the real and true cost of food. The lower the price the more that has been extracted for less, from the land, the worker, the farmer and sometimes from all three.

To survive, the modern-day farm needs to expand, it needs to take on debt, it needs to push the efficiency of the animals and the land to the brink. Intensification it seems is the only route to viability. Disillusioned with the industry today, a career on the land is not generally what a young person aspires to, and who would blame them? The traditional model of the family farm is, we are told, “unsustainable”. Our government and the powers that be are insistent that the best way forward for food, is large scale intensification. Supermarkets are putting more and more distance between the farmer and the consumer, it is now impossible to understand where our food comes from our how it was produced.

While the conventional system ignores the true cost of food, and is driven by supermarket dictated prices, the sustainable food movement aims to value food fairly, create a connection between growers and consumers and reward those involved in the production fairly according to their input. Your decision to support us is supporting an idea, a sector, a farm, individual’s livelihoods, biodiversity, the soil, the environment, and other sustainable businesses. You are sending a message to the powers that be that you believe there is a better way and crucially you are taking positive action for a more sustainable future.

Thank you

Kenneth

PS our Christmas shop is now open! Treat your loved ones to some real, honest food this year with a box of organic fruit or veg and have a look at our lovely selection of hampers. Please get your Christmas week pre-orders in soon to avoid disappointment.

Franck Martinaud

One of the best parts of running an ethical, transparent business is having a good relationship with our suppliers. We are proud of the people and ethical businesses we support, so in this ‘About Us’ section of the blog we want to introduce you to them too, and get to know them a little better ourselves. Passionate people behind the products are a force for good in this world and we want to shine a light on them.

First up is Franck Martinaud who works with The French Market here in Galway. He has carefully selected the organic wines we sell and I spoke to him last week to find out more.

Tell me a little about yourself, how did you end up selling wine here in beautiful Galway?

“I am Franck Martinaud, representative in Galway for The French Market. I have been living in Galway since 2004 and spent 5 years in the London area prior to that. My wife is a Biochemist and she was offered a position in NUI Galway back in 2004. After a week’s holiday to see what we thought of the city, we went back home to Cambridge and packed up our bags. 2 months later, we had moved to Galway and don’t regret it. I was a trained video cameraman/journalist but did not have much work in Galway. One day, I went to buy a few bottles in a wine shop for my birthday party and landed a job. Since then, I have never looked back and love selling a product which is so diverse and representative of a place and the person who makes it. It was in this shop that I met Kenneth and Jenny for the first time when they were about to go into farming.”

Why are you passionate about organic wine in particular?

“I went to my first Organic wine fair in early 2007 and tasted some great wines but, at the time, prices were still high and the Irish focus on Organic products still in its infancy. Slowly but surely, the awareness has increased and Organic wines are nowadays widely available which is great. At The French Market, we work with small producers who are careful with their practice in the vineyard to try and protect the environment they live in and most of them are certified HVE (high environmental value) but working Organically is a step above and makes sense. It is all down to care and hard work but it usually pays off in the quality of the wines.”


Tell me about the wine we sell. Where does it come from? Why did you choose it? Are there any stand-out wine makers that we can’t miss? Which bottles are your favourites?


“You have wines from France, Italy and Spain with the addition of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The emphasis is on sourcing as close to home as possible. Ireland does not have the climate to grow vines commercially so we have to go south to source wines. I love the Cotes du Rhone villages for its great sun kissed red fruits flavours but also don’t mind a glass of Pinot Grigio from Settimo Podere in Italy. One of the pioneer of Organic wines in Italy, Settimo makes a Pinot Grigio to reconcile you with this grape varietal. It is rich with lovely notes of almonds, a world away from the blend Pinot Grigio so commonly found on the shelves. This producer is also constantly experimenting and makes PIWI wines, wines made from grape vines resistant to fungal diseases, which helps reduce treatments and preserves the soil from being compacted by tractors.”

Tell me about your favourite seasonal drinks. What do you open in mid winter, what is perfect in summer? Which bottle do you reach for when you are celebrating with friends? Which bottles are crowd pleasers? Which should be saved for really special occasions? Any tips for making simple, seasonal cocktails with the Prosecco?

“For me, wine plays an important role on the dinner table and I choose it according to the food we prepare or the mood I am in. Variety and discovery is my motto. I cannot see myself drinking the same bottle over and over again.

When I want an easy wine, I usually go for Prosecco but the Spanish Vinedo de la Vida Sauvignon is a great crowd pleaser and so easy to drink, if not too easy 😉

I love reds and I am fond of Nero d’Avola from Sicily or Cotes du Rhone. To pair with food and enjoy at Christmas or keep for a few years, Chateau Lamarsalle from the St Emilion area in Bordeaux is a fantastic wine with great aromas of black berries and a touch of vanilla from its barrel ageing.

If you want to make something fancy with Prosecco, add a strawberry or a raspberry in the glass and hey presto! At winter time, a slice of apple and a small stick of Cinnamon would do well with the apple flavours of the Prosecco. Our Prosecco is so good, it does not need any artifice to shine.”

Thank you Franck, for taking the time to talk to us about yourself and the wonderful products you have introduced us to! Liz

Let us know in the comments if you have a favourite from our wine selection here at the farm. And what do you pair it with? Did you know we are selling wine hampers for Christmas presents? Have a look at our selection here to gift the connoisseur in your life.

A Green Earth Christmas

I think it’s safe to say that this Christmas we are all in need of a little extra cheer. So we have put together some really lovely gift ideas for you and hope to take a little of the stress out of your Christmas shopping.

Buy yourself a treat or get us to deliver a box of goodness to a loved one. We deliver nation wide. You could even get us to deliver to wherever you’ll be over the holidays. Get preordering now here and do bear in mind that, as Christmas day falls on a Friday this year, there will be some changes to your usual delivery days – so please get organised for that now. We would hate to disappoint any of our wonderful customers so please do get in touch with any amendments, delivery address changes, add-ons and more sooner rather than later.

All the details can be found on our X-mas tab.

As well as beautiful boxes of festive fruit and vegetables which, if you preorder, will arrive on the week of the 21st December, you can also order a carefully curated hamper from us. We have put together a few selections to suit you. And as an added bonus, all our hampers come in one of our beautiful tote bags. How about this popular chocolate and wine hamper?

Or a vegan hamper filled with our favourite plant based products? That fermented cashew-cheese has to be tasted to be believed!

For the localvore in your life we have an Irish hamper. That Achill Island sea salt is award winning, flakey perfection and we love that it comes in a cute glass jar! So may ways to re-use it.

Are you after some special pantry products for the discerning foodie in your life? Try our pantry eco hamper. The Olvia Greek olive oil is so delicious and goes perfectly with the balsamic vinegar for a simple-but-sophisticated salad dressing.

And there are many more easy options on our X-mas tab. We also offer gift vouchers if you would like to introduce someone to us or to pay for their next delivery.

From all of us here at Green Earth Organics, we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for your support, it means the world to us.

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.