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

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.

Cornish Pasty

The best thing you can do with a swede!

These hand held pies are so good, I’m confident that even a local Cornish person would accept my plant-based knock-offs as the real deal. According to the Cornish Pasty Association, which champions and protects the authenticity and distinctiveness of the genuine Cornish pasty, the pastry should be shortcrust (traditionally they use a mix of lard and butter, I use a quality plant based butter) and the filling should be diced beef, potato, swede and onion. I simply replace the beef with gorgeous umami chestnut mushrooms and add some deep, dark miso to bring out those mouthwatering savoury notes (if you don’t have miso, substitute it with a little splash of soy sauce). November is the perfect time to make these delicious pies. Most of the ingredients can usually be found in my weekly veg box from the farm at this time of year, but of course feel free to substitute ingredients as you like. Any root veg or squash would work well, you could even up the protein with a drained tin of beans or chickpeas.

The photos below are from my instagram stories where I often take my followers through a simple step-by-step as I’m making dinner. Don’t forget to tag @greenearthorganics1 on Instagram or share your photos on the Green Earth Organics Healthy Eating facebook page if you make this recipe. We love to see your creations!

For the pastry:

  • 500g strong flour (I like to use a 400g of white and 100g of brown)
  • 250g butter
  • a big pinch of salt
  • enough cold water to bring the dough together (usually only a couple of tbsp)

Method

Either use the tips of your fingers to crumble the butter into the flour and salt, or pop all the pastry ingredients (except the water) into a food processor with the blade attachment and pulse it together, until it resembles wet beach sand. Then add a small splash of cold water and blend if using a food processor, or gently knead the dough, just until it comes together into a ball. Be careful not to add too much water, be patient with it. Don’t overwork the dough, you want it to be tender, not hard. Then wrap the pastry with a damp tea towel and let it rest while you prepare the filling. Turn the oven on to 175C.

For the filling:

Method

One of the many beauties of buying organic is that there is rarely a need to peel your vegetables. Just give them a thorough scrub and you’re good to go. As is the way with many of my recipes, no need for exact measurements for the filling. I like an equal balance of swede, potato, mushroom and onion in my pasties. Once you have your veg all diced up fairly small (around a cm squared is good) into a large mixing bowl, season it generously with salt and black pepper. If you have miso, stir a tbsp of that through the mix, if not, either add a touch more salt or a splash of soy sauce.

Then you need to sort out the pastry. Tip it out onto a clean work surface and slice it into 8 equal pieces.

Then roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc with your hand. If you need to, you can lightly flour your work surface to stop sticking and roll each ball into a thin circle. Aim to get the pastry around 4mm thick.

Then pile a generous amount of filling onto each piece of pastry, carefully gather up the sides and seal and crimp as best as you can.

Pop the pasties onto a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven (175C) for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through and steaming.

I always encourage creativity and this recipe is no exception. Although this is as close to a traditional Cornish pasty as you can get making it plant based, feel free to let your tastebuds run free. Why not try a curried pasty? Add some turmeric and black pepper to the pastry and some curry powder to the veg. And while you’re at it switch the veg for diced potato, cauliflower and onion with a drained tin of chickpeas. Or go mediterranean in the summer? Switch the veg for peppers, aubergine, tomato and courgette and add some basil, pop a sprinkle of fennel seeds through the pastry. What combinations will you try? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to see your creations.

Liz x

Gift Guide

The Irish Ethical Consumers Gift Guide 2020

“When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance!”

There’s no denying how quick and convenient it is to do your gift buying on Amazon. Getting everything and anything you can think of sent to your door at the click of a button is incredibly convenient. But I think we can all agree that lining the pockets of billionaires is killing small businesses and stealing the soul from our communities. As well as giving our local economy a well needed boost, when we shop local we are generally supporting people who actually care. Small business owners are passionate people. Unlike in huge corporations, small businesses owners care about providing you with really brilliant things, they care about their staff and they care about the environment. They also pay their taxes properly, which benefits everyone! 


Of course Amazon isn’t the only problem, just the best example of the type of business we need to avoid. There are countless big clothes shops, electronics shops, toy shops and cosmetic shops, all trying to get our attention with the cheapest, most convenient, shiny new thing. I love that saying, that every cent spent is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. As people aiming to be ethical consumers, we look at all the issues surrounding our purchasing. We no longer simply ask ourselves, ‘what do I want and how much does it cost’, but, ‘Where does it come from? Who made it? How was it made? How were they paid? What materials were used? Where did they come from? How long will it last? What will happen when it breaks or wears out? Where will it end up? Why do I want this?’ and perhaps most importantly, ‘Do I actually need this?’

I’m new to this beautiful part of the world, and moving here during a pandemic has meant we can’t go to lovely markets and fairs and meet local makers and growers in the way we would like to. So I’ve been researching some alternative, online, local options for the festive season and put together this little gift guide that I’d love to share with you. I would also love to know your recommendations too please. Let me know in the comments about your best ethical finds online, your local artist or crafts person, your favourite gift you’ve received or given. If you’re reading this on Facebook or Instagram then please also tag them in the comments so we can all support small, ethical, local people and businesses who care.

Shop Small, Shop Local, Shop Sustainable, Shop Secondhand and share the love by tagging brilliant gift givers and small businesses in the comments section!

Happy gift giving! Liz 

For Children

Well this time of year is all about them isn’t it? Have a look at Lottie Dolls for a diverse range of Irish made, inspiring dolls based on real children. Their key brand drivers are diversity and inclusion, body image, childhood, STEM education, sustainability and empowerment.

Or for a wider range of children toys, try Jiminy. This is a brilliantly curated Irish online shop for eco toys. They are also offering a gift wrapping service with a handwritten note so you can send something a bit more personal to a special someone who you may not get to see this festive season. The ‘gift wrapping with a note’ service is doubly great because it saves the item being posted twice which cuts down on transport emissions.

For the Zero Waste Hero

Although we have a good range of essential low impact products in our shop that are very convenient to add to your weekly veg delivery as and when you need them (see here and here), head to Reuzi for a large range of all things reusable, zero waste and plastic free. It’s a one stop shop for sustainable living. From silicone freezer bags to shampoo bars for dogs, this shop has everything you need to live a zero waste life, stylishly. There are loads of luxury items and gift ideas as well as all the staples.

If you’re looking for something luxurious for the ethical beauty in your life try White Witch. Their organic, vegan, plastic free luxury beauty products are handmade in small batches in the west of Ireland. Have a look at their carefully chosen ingredients, beautifully designed packaging and skilfully made products on their website. I love that they also do refills through the post to further save on the environmental (and financial) cost of packaging.

Second Hand is Sustainable

As ethical consumers we can no longer look down on secondhand. If we are not filling up our landfills we are shipping our recycling across the planet and have no idea what happens to it once it reaches its destination. Buying secondhand is probably the most sustainable way of shopping for what you need. And not only is it cheaper for you and kinder for the planet, it’s fun! 

Check your favourite charity shop. Many of them have moved online and set up an eBay account to get through this lockdown. Why not see if they have that winter coat or wooly hat you were needing before buying new? 

For the Book Worm

For a huge selection of secondhand books at really good prices try The Book Shop

For a mix of secondhand and new books try Galway’s favourite bookshop, Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop. When lockdown is over, this quirky shop is well worth a visit too. 

For the Fashionable

For secondhand fashion try Thriftify (which is not just secondhand clothes but also books, dvds, cds, pc and video games and more). Snag yourself a bargain and help keep clothes out of the landfills. This site is easy to navigate and has really helpful search options.

For the Gadget Geek

For secondhand Electronics head to CEX where you’ll find everything from phones, games and consoles to tablets, laptops, DVDs and more. Not only are secondhand electronics much kinder on your wallet, but keeping electronics out of landfill is vital to stop harmful chemicals seeping into the environment. Millions of phones, computers, printers, routers, modems and other electronic equipment get thrown away every year. By buying secondhand, you are not putting a new device into circulation. Think of all the energy and raw materials that go into creating each new device. The more you can use secondhand, the better.

For the Foodie

Look no further than us at Green Earth Organics for your foodie friends and family. We have all the raw ingredients in our veg boxes that the foodie in your life could possibly need to create brilliant meals, plus some treats to keep the chef happy, and we deliver all over Ireland! Why not introduce them to us with a gift voucher or a veg box? How about buying them a fruit and veg delivery with some extra treats – our carefully curated range of teas or coffee and some organic chocolate or biscuits? A really great bottle of wine and some olives, crackers and cheeses – including these amazing vegan cheeses? Check out our new X-mas shop where we’ve put together some brilliant hampers.

My recipe book ‘Cook Draw Feed’ has been added to the shop at Green Earth Organics. An illustrated, plant based cookbook with over 100 inspiring recipes from my 12 years of running a veggie cafe. It’s a unique, hand drawn recipe book which makes a lovely, useful gift. I think it goes perfectly with a box of veg from the farm! I’ll be posting weekly recipes here on the blog so look out for those too.

Local Artists

There are too many brilliant local artists to list here but may we suggest you have a look at our very own Jenny Keavey’s incredible artwork? Her online shop, Into The Woods has a gorgeous collection of fabric and thread wild animal portraits, landscapes and floral hoops which would be gorgeous adorning your walls all year round. She also has a really beautiful collection of Christmas cards which we have added to the Green Earth Organics shop here.