We all like to feel that we belong to something. At the very least we are all members of the human race, we have a nationality, we are from this county or that. There is of course much more to it than that, and on this day of all days, it seems relevant and right to speak about it.
The great Irish green wave can be seen far and wide on St Patrick’s day, a day when we celebrate being Irish and there are many things to celebrate, and food is certainly one of them.
Ireland is a nation of food producers; you would be forgiven then for asking the question why is it we import more than 70% of our vegetables. There are some pragmatic reasons for this. Next week we will come to the end of our Irish carrots, and we must import to fill the gap, the season is over. Seasonality is a major factor in supply. But when in season there should be no reason not to source Irish vegetables.
The Irish organic vegetable sector is a small niche within the overall Irish vegetable sector, which in itself is small. But there is something that makes the Irish organic sector special.
In my experience the Irish organic vegetable growers that I know are doing what they are doing because they believe in a better food system. They have no interest in putting chemicals on our food, they are interested and actively looking to improve conditions that help biodiversity thrive. They plant trees, they manage and look after their soil, they are interested in protecting our planet and ensuring that they are doing what they can to mitigate climate change and finally they all want to produce healthy happy food. This I think is a shared and common belief.
Because when it comes down to it, why on earth would anybody start growing vegetables on a small scale in Ireland? Why, when it is impossible to compete with supermarket prices, when it is hard work for little return, there must be a bigger guiding principle.
These growers are opting to take the path less travelled because they believe it is the right thing to do.
The same could be said for you, you may be sitting at home or in your car or wherever you are reading this, you too are choosing a different path. We know it is more convenient to pick up your produce in the supermarket, we know you take the time and make the effort to read our little posts and order from us, some weeks, every week or once in a while. This makes you part of a community of people that are taking action and making positive changes for our planet, because you value biodiversity and you value eating healthy food.
Earlier this year we planned out our farm, and I wrote about how we have cut back on growing certain crops. We have passed on the responsibility for producing these crops to others organic growers here in Ireland, we know too that they share our values. At the time this was a difficult decision but now as I look at this in a new light I realise that in essence we are stronger together and that hopefully this small step will lead to a better stronger more resilient Irish organic vegetable sector.
So for the day that is in it, I would like to raise a glass to you for your continued and appreciated support, and to all the other Irish organic vegetables farmers out there, grappling with exactly the same challenges as us, we are all in it together!
Here’s to a greener future!