Careful What You Wish For

It is ironic, I sometimes think, that the time of the greatest local bounty coincides with the least number of customers.  So, if you can at all do not forget about us, take us with you if you are going on a staycation or better still, let us deliver to you there. Please tell your friends, neighbours and families about us as every extra box helps us survive the summer.

During the height of the stress of the pandemic there was no time, and we were busy to the point of breaking, but now with a little space to think the realisation that we have run a marathon without the training is hitting home.

I have harvested a sum total of about two cucumbers so far this season. Thankfully, the farm team have been doing epic work and that has allowed me to be jumping around between so many different things.

Now we are trying to catch up with the growth. Thinking and putting the structures in place that will allow us to stabilise and grow is more important than ever.  Conscious change is harder than change that is forced upon you, this is thought lead, painstaking change, it requires a great deal of energy and like all change it is hard and takes time. Ultimately though, it is a good thing.

We as a sustainable food producer now have an opportunity to make a big difference in our corner of the world. This opportunity to have a real positive impact on the environment has been handed to us by you. To that end we have an obligation to make it work. 

There is absolutely no question that the easiest route is to leave things as they are and keep doing things the way we always have. But this approach means we are not innovating in how we grow food or in how we get the food to you. Without constant forward motion we cannot hope to compete or survive against the supermarkets and their consistent devaluation of fresh food.

Often the price of growth is having to do things you do not necessarily like or want to do
(at least initially), it can pull you away from what you love and that is a big sacrifice.

I love being out in the fields watching the crops, understanding what is going on and if I am honest, I love driving the tractors (who would not I guess) but recently there has been little time for that. So, is the price of progress worth it?

On the farm it is clear. The price is worth it, and it is seen in better crops, improved biodiversity, more trees and hedgerows and strangely more people.  Because of the innovation we have a better farm and this year we have even more to harvest and some of the best crops ever. Now the time of full harvest is upon us, and we are so busy in the fields.

This week we have had 10 people in the fields. We have been weeding, planting, preparing ground, tying up cucumbers and tomatoes and of course harvesting. It is local people (this year we have loads of local teenagers join the team) harvesting local food. 

As always thank you for your support.

Kenneth

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

Greenwashing

If you ever get a chance to watch ‘The Silver Branch’, an inspiring and beautiful story shot in county Clare, take it. It is a story of hope, the miracles of nature and honesty. 

There are moments and occurrences in our lives when we need to be reminded of what’s important , all too often these wake-up-calls pass us by in the busyness of life. This was one such moment for me.

It is the story of a man, a farmer, a poet and his connection with the land and nature. It was moving and beautiful and full of hope for the future. Hope is what keeps us going during the tough times.

After seeing the film, I had an urge to grab my children and bring them out into the fields to show them the beauty of nature. 

Nature is precious, and we are all called on to protect it. We share this planet with a vast diversity of living beings, and it is our obligation to tread softly and nurture the land. 

“We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as other creatures do.” – Barbara Ward

‘The Silver Branch’ is a true and authentic story about life, nature and hope. Stories like these are the real stories that need to be told. Uplifting, inspiring, honest and true. Our planet is in trouble and there is much work to be done and there are many good, small, ethical companies and producers doing their bit and playing their part to set things right. 

But to use the environmental problems that we are facing as a marketing tool to sell more, to increase sales and profits, to generate a false picture of doing right; using the greatest man-made crisis of our time to stamp green credentials on corporations and retailers with dubious intentions… there can be no greater travesty of truth and abuse of trust possible. 

It is greenwashing and it is wrong.

Abuse of the truth, however small, needs to be called out, because transparency and trust have never been more important. There is no greater challenge facing humanity than our ability right now to come together and to move to a present of less consumption, renewable energy and a food production system that protects nature. 

As Patrick McCormack’s plight in ‘The Silver Branch’ of saving the Burren from a visitor centre that would have destroyed the landscape seemed helpless, so it seems with climate change. He and a small group of committed individuals defied the powers of church, government and consensus to turn the tide and save the Burren and triumphed against the odds, driven by honest belief.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Meade

Thank you for being a part our our small group of committed citizens!

Kenneth

Order a one off or start a repeat order for a steady supply of sustainable, delicious fruit, vegetables and groceries here.

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! 

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: