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

Thank You!

Thank you to so many who have responded to our plea last week.

The level of generosity from all of you has blown us away.  Our farm is in full harvest mode now and we are bringing in so much produce daily that our stores are full.

Not only that, but we are supporting several other local organic farms to fill your boxes. Your support has meant everything to us and to them.

Every year we see a large drop in orders when we are at our most productive on the farm and this year has been the biggest drop off ever. This is quite understandable, as we all need a break and a holiday. 

July is the month of local IRISH plenty and your support every week keeps our business afloat, we rely on it, the supermarkets won’t miss you, but we will!

If you can at all continue to support us through the summer, it makes all the difference and it helps us ensure all our harvest we have been working towards for the last six months gets a home.

The last 16 months here on the farm have been a never-endingrollercoaster and so difficult one week to the next to predict what is around the corner. I know many small businesses up and down the country have gone through a very rough time and we are grateful to still be here and open and have thesupport of you our customers. 

But 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. Whether that is putting food on the table for our families, or beating an illness, or keeping a farm and business together when at times it seems close to unravelling.

The little idea that a small farm here in the West coast of Ireland could help fix this planet, help fix our food system was our “WHY”. This of course is a huge ask, an insurmountable mountain it would seem. But there is change everywhere, more and more organic growers, more and more people eating mostly plant-based foods, more and more sustainable locally focused consumers. In my view this is one solution to the greater climate crisis.

The ethos of our business: Zero waste/plastic free, carbon neutrality (solar panels cover our packing shed and our first 100% electric van is now on the road),our sustainable farming practices, the support and commitment to other organic local growers (And not just greenwash as with the supermarkets) and supplying fresh healthy organic food remains the core of our business .  

Our founding principles will never change, and I think more than ever this is the path we as society need to thread.

Thank you for your support

Kenneth.

Rekindling our Connection with Food

Bees and other pollinators enjoying the kale we leave to flower each year

The art of producing food is marvellous and tough, and on sunny days it is a privilege.

We talk about food all the time here, we grow it, we sow the seeds, we watch the plants grow, we fertilise the soil, we control the weeds and hope we have the right mix to ensure the plants grow healthy and pest free.

We spend the time in between managing the crops, maintaining the land, planting trees, growing hedging, sowing wildflowers for the bees, harnessing the power of the sun, these are all things we do.

We see first-hand the connection between the fresh produce and the cooked food on our plate. We can see how the process of growing healthy food from healthy soil creates local employment and impacts on our locality positively. Sustainable agriculture is good for all and it benefits the environment immeasurably.

Natures’ pest control – a healthy balance on predators and prey naturally occurs on organic farms

We see more bees, and flies, and insects on our farm and we feel there is a balance as we rarely see an out-of-control pest issue. We see more birds, and wild life, we see the land thrive, just this week I saw a giant hare saunter past one of our polytunnels.

Not only that, but organic food is so much better for us, of course it hasn’t been sprayed and so is free of harmful chemicals, but it is also just better nutritionally.

Weed burning rather than spraying chemicals before we plant out this years’ crops

A comprehensive study carried out by David Thomas has demonstrated a remarkable decrease in mineral content in fresh produce over 50 years, comparing food grown in 1941 to food grown in 1991. To the extent that today you would need to eat 6 apples to get the same nutritional value you got in 1941 from eating 5 apples. In some cases mineral levels have dropped by as much as 70%.  

The use of highly soluble fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides and the intensive production of food has led to land that is lifeless and food that is less healthy and less nutritionally dense, this reflects the remarkable connection between our food and the health of our soil. 

There is no way we could know this, as a population we are in danger of losing our connection with the land and our food. This is not our fault, the food system that is championed by supermarkets and giant food producers has made it this way. 

Imagine though if we could see the impact of our positive choices, if we could somehow rekindle that connection with our food? Over the past year it seems we have been remaking that connection.

We are reconnecting with our food by cooking and touching and smelling and seeing how our food is grown. We are redeveloping that connection with nature and this is something we can pass onto our children, we can show them that there is a great, fun and fantastically positive way to live and eat. Although from what I have seen recently it is the children who are teaching us!

Kenneth

Sustainable Growth

During the week I had a very big decision to make and as with all big decisions it is never black and white. It may seem as you look in from the outside that it is, but rarely when looking in from the outside does one see the whole picture. But having a vision and idea of what is important can help make those decisions a little easier. 

We have spent 15 years this May creating a business from nothing. The team and the people who have come and gone over the years have worked hard, and there is no question in my mind that Green Earth Organics would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for these people, the long hours and hard work.

The farm and business have grown a lot over the last 15 years, and we are proud to say that a culture of empathy and respect has also grown. There will always be times when we do not get it right (and no doubt there has been plenty of them, more often than not some would say), but the intention of the business is genuine and pointing in the right direction.

The idea of environmental preservation and respect for our fellow human being has always been right at the heart of what matters here. This can sometimes get stretched when you are faced with the harsh financial pressure of the world of business, and it is true that out in this world the bottom line is all that counts. 

We would be forgiven then for thinking that profit and the bottom line is all that matters. But we would be wrong because therein lies the seeds of greed. It is this thinking that has landed the planet in the precarious situation it is currently in.   

And yet, it would be extremely naive to think that profit does not matter and that it is all about picking wild-flowers and lying in the long grass. Simply put, without a healthy, profitable business our little community would not exist.

I know, as does anybody who has ran a business (or a household for that matter), that there is constant pressure to succeed and deliver and that at times there can be intense financial pressure. But there can also be times of remarkable reward in feeling satisfied of a job well done or having done your best despite the odds.

Green Earth Organics was born out of the need to do right in the world and love for the land and our vision is pretty simple:

“Using food as a force for positive change by putting the well-being of our environment at the centre of every decision we make.  We believe that producing food with respect for nature and for the multitude of creatures we share this planet with is the only way to farm. We believe that we can do this by providing an alternative to the mainstream, by growing and providing healthy sustainable food, by conducting our business in an ethical and sustainable way, with respect for all at its heart.”

We could not do any of this if it were not for your support.

Thank you!

Kenneth

PS We have some amazing, exciting changes to tell you about.  We have listened to what you said and have reduced our minimum spend to €30, we have also added FREE delivery for all orders over €100 always – so stock up on your organic groceries with us and get everything you need delivered to your door in one, efficient delivery. Finally, you will see our website has changed and now you can create a regular repeat order and never forget to order again!

Lots of Small Changes

Do small changes make a difference?

When I was younger, I believed that by convincing my parents to recycle glass bottles and joining Green Peace that we would make a difference, I was utterly convinced, I never doubted it for a second, I knew the planet was precious and that our changes made a difference.

All young children have a connection with nature and they believe they can do anything, so what happens as we grow up? Why do we lose that sense of value for the natural world that we had as children?

When we started the farm, I believed growing sustainable food would change the planet, and that all we needed was a tractor, some seeds and we would have a successful farm. When we expanded into Dublin, I believed we would finally be able to reach enough people to get the farm and the business running smoothly and start to make a real difference to what and how people eat. At times on this journey, I became disillusioned. The pressure and stress, the financial hardships, the decisions, the fighting to do the right thing when it seemed it was all going against us made me question why we were doing what we were doing. But ultimately, we stayed the course and stuck to our principles.

I am not sure how long it normally takes, but it took (and continues to take) a long time to realise  that no one change in isolation changes anything. Real change and success is built on lots and lots of little things done consistently over time. This is as true for building a new habit as for fixing the planet.

Maybe one by one and little by little all our changes taken together can effect real change. Maybe your choice to plant a tree, to avoid weed killer, or to tell you kids about biodiversity and educate them in the beauty and preciousness of nature contribute to real positive change.

By buying from us you are effecting real change, you are choosing a different way to eat and are supporting serious changes behind the scenes.

On the farm we produce some of our electricity by a 11kW solar panel array on the roof of our packing shed. We farm organically, we grow trees, and hedges and flowers and food. We use paper and compostable plant-based bags, we reuse our boxes, we aspire to zero waste and being carbon neutral.

Your choice to support us means you are one of a community that are choosing a new and better way to eat, you are supporting farming and food for a better planet.

Does it matter? Does it matter that you support a zero-waste circular economy, a sustainable means of growing food and a better food future, does that matter?

Well in my book that does matter, it matters a lot.

Thank you for your support.

Kenneth

PS. Get your orders in for next week here. Fruit and veg boxes, groceries, treats and more – all organic and carefully sourced from sustainable businesses when not home grown.

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