Happy Summer solstice! It is amazing to see the length in the evenings.

I’ve just come back in from the fields, it is Thursday night and I had been attempting to sow our second crop of swede. It is very late in the season for this and as it turns out something went wrong with the seeding unit and I will have to take a closer look at it later, and I am not at all certain even this second sowing was successful.

The reason I was resowing swede was due to a tiny little black insect called a flea beetle. These little creatures’ prey on tender brassica leaves and as the first little swede leaves unfurled, they decimated them. To an extent it is our own fault as we should have covered the beds with netting as soon as we did the first sowing, but I didn’t. It was one little job that got away from us.

Anyway, as I was driving back to the farm shed in the tractor, I was thinking about the fundamental difference between organic and conventional. In the world of conventional production, a farmer can spray his crops with pesticides, these chemicals are not specific to one particular creature and can have devastating effects on biodiversity. The reality of conventional vegetable production is the routine use of herbicides, such as glyphosate, pesticides and fungicides. As organic growers we us no chemicals, and on our farm, I can categorically say we use zero chemicals.

But the burden of responsibility to prove our organic credentials rests with us, it is up to us to pass in our case two annual inspections and to show the paper trail to demonstrate that we are adhering to the rules. There is no question though, organic certification is a good thing, and it clearly shows to you, that producers are indeed growing food safely and chemically free amongst many other things. You should always look or ask to see if food is certified organic.

But back in my grandad’s day all his produce was “organic” he didn’t have to fill out any forms or prove that he was not using chemicals; to be fair this was a time before farmers were routinely using chemicals in food production. But today that has all changed and now there is a massive industry that makes vast profits from selling chemicals that are used in our food that are toxic to us and are destroying biodiversity. Chemicals do not belong in our food system; I should know I spent my life studying and working with them.

How different the supermarket landscape would look, if instead of looking for “certified organic” all produce that had been sprayed had to have a label outlining the chemical treatments it received on its journey from seed to supermarket. How different then would our food system be? Imagine your carrot bag labelled with the following which were the top 10 applied chemicals on carrots grown in Ireland in 2015, the last year where there is data available.

Lambda-cyhalothrin, Linuron , Metribuzin, Azoxystrobin , Difenoconazole, Pendimethalin, Prothioconazole, Boscalid, Pyraclostrobin, Tebuconazole

Or you may remember that our kale was taken to be checked last Nov, and they checked for 870 chemicals. That is 870 chemicals that they thought could possibly be on our kale and as result are or could be used in conventional agriculture! The mind boggles.

For me and our business and farm, the journey for the last 18 years has always been about producing and supporting other organic growers who are doing their very best to grow healthy food whilst protecting biodiversity and never ever using chemicals.

As always thanks for your support.


PS Back by popular demand is the “Fresh Irish category” where you can see straight away all the local organic produce we have.