Four Guinness Barrels and some scaffolding planks, that was our first makeshift packing table. My dad myself and Jenny used to pack all the boxes and then load them into the back of our small Peugeot partner van. I would head out do the deliveries and the packing week would end with a bottle of wine at about 12am on a Wednesday night, all deliveries done.
Life seemed Simpler then, but our mind often plays tricks on us, remembering the sunshine and forgetting the rain: who remembers summers that were hotter drier and longer when we were kids? (Or were they?). There was little money for anything, we made do with whatever we had. Jenny was working full time and that was our income.
Our packing week may have finished on Wednesday, but the working week never actually finished. We didn’t have the luxury of somebody to look after quality or packing or the farm, it was all done by us. Now we have great people doing amazing work, the care that goes into the packing each one of your orders certainly puts my early days of packing to shame.
I remember those days of not having a cold room to store our produce and of going out to the local pub carpark to meet the trucks to hand ball and unload some of our bought in produce.
There was one very funny, (well funny now, not funny then) incident where an artic truck came onto our farm, despite insistent communication that there was no way to turn a truck of that size. As I was eating my dinner one evening there was this giant truck parked right outside our house and the delivery driver waving in at me!
The driver decided on his own initiative to turn in our front field, needless to say this monstrous truck got stuck in the muck. Luckily through the kindness and help of two neighbours with very big tractors did we manage to get the truck out of that field.
These were the trials and tribulations of starting out in farming and business and making it up as we went along. But when all was said and done, we did what we did because we wanted to produce and sell sustainable food grown without chemicals, we wanted to do it whilst respecting nature and biodiversity and doing what we could for our planet in our own little corner of the world.
We did that and planted trees and hedgerows and food and got through those first few tough years. It struck me as the bean counters were totting up the figures for last year that although we are bigger now, we are back to the point of having to make difficult decisions to ensure we keep the farm and business afloat.
As Teagasc published another report detailing the pressures facing primary vegetable producers this week, with some farms closing their doors for good, and the amount of land area being farmed for vegetables decreasing due to the financial strain, it makes me wonder when will the value in good healthy fresh food be realised. When will the devaluation of fresh food by supermarkets end, when will they see the “value” rather than the “cost” in healthy fresh food.
As we look to the year ahead there is uncertainty. We are not sure what is to come, nobody is. This is our first ‘normal’ year in three years and for a business and farm it is hard to know what will be thrown at us, but whatever happens we will never compromise on our values.
Thank you for your support.