My dad (Michael) was an avid gardener. My grand dad (Martin) had a beautiful vegetable garden and he was also a mixed farmer, my great grand-dad Michael was the head gardener at Cregg Castle (1911) and my great great grandad John was also a gardener at Cregg castle in the 1850’s onwards.
That is 5 generations of vegetable growers in our family, not bad for the west of Ireland. Famous for its perceived poor soil as Oliver Cromwell’s famous quote “to hell or to Connaught” has incorrectly often been associated with. I believe there must be something in our blood that keeps us coming back to the land. Certainly, I believe it was this connection that brought be back from years of working in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry to reconnect with the land and build a sustainable farm.
Back in the early days I had more hair than today, the journey has not been without its hair raising moments! I wonder sometimes what my great, great grandad would have thought of what we are doing here today on this patch of ground in Galway. It was not that long ago when you think about it when my great-great grandad was gardening, the food they were growing back then would certainly have been free from chemicals (there were none; not till the strangely named ‘green revolution’ of the 1960’s did chemical usage become prevalent in agriculture) and would have been harvested fresh for the table.
Everyday, we demonstrate that it is possible to grow the very best of food without the use of toxic chemicals, they are not necessary in our organic food growing system. There was a certain strong seasonality about food back then, there was no other choice, there were no imports or fancy fruits like bananas. There was no plastic, imagine that, a world only maybe 50 years ago when there was little or no plastic! I think I would have struggled with the lack of choice, but how sweet the first season’s apples or how flavoursome the first new potatoes must have been. I think it must have been from here that our obsession with early potatoes came.
I think I would also have struggled with the lack of machinery. While it is enjoyable and hugely rewarding to work in a garden with a spade and your hands it is another matter entirely to be growing enough food to feed 1000+ families per week. That is what we do here on our patch of organic land in the west of Ireland.
I often wonder when I look back at how our recent ancestors farmed and lived how it is possible that we have, in the space of 100 years, done so much damage to our planet? How can we change to reverse the damage, is it possible? Absolutely. I don’t like the idea of new years resolutions and even if I did, it is a bit early to be thinking about them now. Our resolution if you like will not be any different to any other year, we will be redoubling our efforts to do as we have always done, which is to make growing and delivering food to your doors as sustainable and healthy as is possible.
Thank you as always for your support.