The little things that run the world

Kenneth ran a webinar for Green Schools Ireland on Our Food, Our Health, Our Planet this week, you can watch it below!

One in every three species of bee in Ireland is threatened with extinction and 75% of insect biomass has disappeared in the last 30 years.

I remember as a child driving on the very few motorways that were present in Ireland back then and the windscreen of our car being covered in insect splatters.  Sometimes it was so prevalent you could hardly see out, contrast that with a motorway journey by car today, you will hardly notice a splatter.

The decline in insect biomass is well documented and these small insects described by E.O Wilson, 1987 as “the little things that run the world”, (E.O. Wilson, 1987) seems to be as result of a myriad of reasons, from climate change to intensification of agriculture and the use of insecticides.

Last week I highlighted the 870 chemicals that were tested for in a sample of our organic kale, again to reiterate our kale came back completely clean and safe as you would expect on an organic farm (Again I wonder at the requirement of us an organic producer to have our food tested for chemicals….) , but the fact that they test for 870 chemicals suggests that it is possible that this number of chemicals is in circulation in conventional agriculture.

Bees are the poster child of the pollinator insects, and they are beautiful and amazing, and a conversation the other day with Gerry, who is the beekeeper looking after the bees on our farm just shows how special and fantastic, they are, he clearly loves and respects his bees. 

Standing in one of our fields during a summer’s evening when our three acres of clover and wildflowers were in full bloom the buzz of the bees was mesmerizing, they were busy and active, and it was amazing. But many of these bees were the solitary bumble bee and they come in all shapes and sizes. The Irish Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme shows population index declines of 14% over six years.

Early in the season all bees benefit from the amazing dandelion and also from the little flowers on sycamore and willow which provide so much food. Native pollinator-friendly trees include Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Willow, Rowan, Wild Cherry and Crab Apple, which also support other native Irish flora and fauna throughout the year. 

Another great reason to plant native trees and to protect the trees we have.

Biodiversity, this mix of plant and insect and animal live is a critical and interwoven system which we need to survive, anything we can do to create and protect habitats for all these living creatures will enhance our local biodiversity.

The groundbreaking All-Ireland Pollinator Plan has had such a positive impact on our perception and protection of biodiversity. It just goes to show you what can be accomplished when people come together for a common cause, or in the famous words of Margret Meade,

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Our farm has forestry, and wild Irish native hedgerows, and wild flowers strips, and natural areas left to rewilding, and no chemicals, and of course we safe, clean organic produce food too.

Maybe just maybe we will get back to the days in the not-too-distant future when once again our car windscreens are covered in insects and the bees are thriving and happy.

Your support for our farm and business and farms like ours is a thumbs up for biodiversity, thank you.


PS Don’t forget our farm shop is open every Saturday 10am-5pm, H91F9C5 and of course that you can now book in your Christmas delivery for delivery on Christmas week!

Every Year it Happens

Every year it happens, we are waiting and waiting and then bang out of the blue it all starts again. I guess life is like that sometimes, we push and we shove and want to change things, and then when we finally just accept the ways things are (often because what we were doing was making no difference anyway) and least expect it things fall into place.

So it was this morning with my first farm walk in two weeks. We have been struggling with the dark closed in feeling of winter, and then this morning bright sunshine, singing birds, and life were evident all around.

The crops need to have our focus again, they are flying. We have the best kale harvest in years, our leeks are amazing as is the purple sprouting broccoli.

We are out in the fields everyday but today we start in earnest after we have finally shrugged off winters cloak.

Nature is very subtle, we are always on the watch for change, and somehow just suddenly it changes without you noticing. Like a seed germinating, one day it is a seed and the next it is a plant is has germinated, just like that, this is the miracle and power of nature. It is the same with the kale regrowing, it just happens when the time is right. Or the birds singing a spring morning chorus they just begin, and wow were they out in force this morning. 

I get excited at this time of the year, the start of a new growing season and the challenges and opportunities it brings fill me with hope for the year. 

It is a natural cycle and as we emerge from the dark winter months there is a sense at least on the farm of a new slate, a fresh start, a chance to begin the journey anew.

Nature is wonderful like that, and up until this period in man’s history it has been stable and consistent. I read this morning that the Gulf Stream which here in Northern Europe we rely on for our stable weather patterns is not in good shape. 

These complex global climate regulation mechanisms are hard to understand I would imagine, but there are clear signs that climate stability all over our one and only beautiful home is being compromised.

I do admit to getting frustrated with the slow pace of change, it doesn’t make sense to me. There is a phenomenal opportunity now to take the risk and invest in Green Energy, to cut consumption and do so much more. We as a small farm have done it, and we as a small country can do it.

But maybe it is like the kale regrowing or the seed germinating, you can’t force the seed to grow faster or the kale to appear faster, but all of a sudden without even noticing it has changed.

Maybe that is happening now too with movement to cut consumption, power our lives with green energy, moving to more plant-based diets, all these things are happening.

The most amazing thing is you are causing this change by supporting us.

Thank you.


Lots of Small Changes

Do small changes make a difference?

When I was younger, I believed that by convincing my parents to recycle glass bottles and joining Green Peace that we would make a difference, I was utterly convinced, I never doubted it for a second, I knew the planet was precious and that our changes made a difference.

All young children have a connection with nature and they believe they can do anything, so what happens as we grow up? Why do we lose that sense of value for the natural world that we had as children?

When we started the farm, I believed growing sustainable food would change the planet, and that all we needed was a tractor, some seeds and we would have a successful farm. When we expanded into Dublin, I believed we would finally be able to reach enough people to get the farm and the business running smoothly and start to make a real difference to what and how people eat. At times on this journey, I became disillusioned. The pressure and stress, the financial hardships, the decisions, the fighting to do the right thing when it seemed it was all going against us made me question why we were doing what we were doing. But ultimately, we stayed the course and stuck to our principles.

I am not sure how long it normally takes, but it took (and continues to take) a long time to realise  that no one change in isolation changes anything. Real change and success is built on lots and lots of little things done consistently over time. This is as true for building a new habit as for fixing the planet.

Maybe one by one and little by little all our changes taken together can effect real change. Maybe your choice to plant a tree, to avoid weed killer, or to tell you kids about biodiversity and educate them in the beauty and preciousness of nature contribute to real positive change.

By buying from us you are effecting real change, you are choosing a different way to eat and are supporting serious changes behind the scenes.

On the farm we produce some of our electricity by a 11kW solar panel array on the roof of our packing shed. We farm organically, we grow trees, and hedges and flowers and food. We use paper and compostable plant-based bags, we reuse our boxes, we aspire to zero waste and being carbon neutral.

Your choice to support us means you are one of a community that are choosing a new and better way to eat, you are supporting farming and food for a better planet.

Does it matter? Does it matter that you support a zero-waste circular economy, a sustainable means of growing food and a better food future, does that matter?

Well in my book that does matter, it matters a lot.

Thank you for your support.


PS. Get your orders in for next week here. Fruit and veg boxes, groceries, treats and more – all organic and carefully sourced from sustainable businesses when not home grown.