The Big Lie

The big lie, do you think that genetically engineered crops and glyphosate are necessary and safe?

The big lie is the idea that if you lie big and continue to repeat the lie enough it will eventually become so common that it is accepted by society.  
As we choose our wild open pollinated flower seed for part of our rotation for the year ahead and wait for our bees to wake up from their winter slumber, it would seem we are a million miles away from the big agribusinesses that dominate our food supply chain. 
These businesses are not in the business of altruism, they are in the chemical and life patenting business, a business which it seems gives them the right to own seeds (to own life itself) and make vast sums of money from the sale of these genetically modified seeds and the chemicals necessary to bring them to harvest. 
One example of a big lie was the use of neonicotinoids in agriculture, we were told they were safe for the bees, they were not, and now after much research they are banned.
Another example is the idea that GM crops and the chemicals used on them are safe, are necessary, and bring benefits to nature, the farmer, and the consumer.  Is this true? Here are a few facts that may help you decide for yourself.

  1. In 2015, 180millon Ha of GM crops were grown.
  2. Of this area, 4 key crops accounted for 178million Ha.
  3. Of these 4 key crops, soya 52%, Maize/corn 30%, cotton 13%, canola/oil seed rape 5% accounted for nearly 100% of all GM crops grown. (read the report here)
  4. All 4 crops have been engineered to allow them to be resistant to glyphosate allowing more of this chemical to be sprayed on the crops, meaning they will all contain higher levels of glyphosate.
  5. GM crops are banned in Europe, but GM products find their way into our food and remember because they are GM they will have been sprayed with significantly higher levels of glyphosate (A potential carcinogen).  Some soybeans have been showed to have as much as 100mg/kg, the maximum residue limit is 40mg/kg in the US, in 1999 a supplier of both glyphosate and roundup considered 5.6mg/kg to be “extremely high”.  (Read the report here)
  6. Many of these crops are grown to feed animals, and many of the by-products of these crops such as high Fructose corn syrup have made it into the ultra-processed foods on supermarket shelves. All are drenched in glyphosate.
  7. This combination of chemicals and plants both owned by agribusiness, makes these companies very rich and gives them a lot of power. Revenue from one leading agribusiness was $26 billion in 2022.
  8. Roundup ready crops do not improve the yield. 

The development of this technology is not about feeding the world, it is about control of our food system, and making vast sums of money, it is about feeding a factory farmed food industry that is making us sick. So, are we to think then that altruism, safe food and doing right for the farmer, for the planet and the consumer are the driving forces behind these mega businesses? I will leave you to decide. With your support we support the very opposite of points 1-8 above.  Thank you,


50 today and I wonder what my grandad would say ?

Today I am 50, and because of the day that is in it and because we have many new people here that may not know our story, I thought I would share it again.

The story of our farm began three generations ago, with my Grandad who was the head Gardener at the local castle.  This farm came to life in 1923, with the land act that allowed Irish tenant farmers to buy their own land for the first time.

It must have been a remarkable feeling, for the first time my granddad owned his own plot of land.  Up until then he had worked as head Gardener for the Blake family that owned Cregg castle.

He worked in the walled garden and by all counts had green fingers. He did not have access to chemicals or plastic. He grew amazing fresh organic produce for the Blake’s and for his own family. This was a time before everything was available all year round. It was a time when the first fresh new season produce was anticipated with much relish.

There is still a whisper of that anticipation left in our society today, at least for a short period that attends on the arrival of the first new season potatoes. A beautiful tradition handed down by the needs of our ancestors.

I remember my grandad growing peas, and rhubarb and apples, carrots and potatoes, turnips and cabbage all from a relatively small kitchen garden here on this farm.

My dad too had green fingers and he grew much of the food we ate in the early years. Drying onions on the roof of our shed, I remember being up there on the galvanise turning the onions in the beating sun so they would cure, before bringing them into the shed for the winter.

My interest in continuing this family tradition of growing food was not to be realised for some time. A defining moment of thinning mangles with plastic bags wrapped around my knees tied with bailing twine sent me as far as you could possibly get from muck, clay and growing food.

But something inside must have been stirred and disillusionment with a career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry lead me back to the land. 18 years ago we embarked on this journey of sustainable food production.  

I wonder sometimes what my grandad would say seeing the fancy machines we use today to keep crops weed free.

I wonder what he would say about how growing food in this country has been devalued to the point of extinction.

Or about the cheap imports, of questionable ethical and sustainable origins and exploitative labour practices which mean the Irish farmer cannot ever hope to compete.

I wonder what he would say about the reliance on plastic and chemicals. Chemicals that mean the bees are dying; our biodiversity is disappearing; and our water ways once clean, pristine, and brimming with fish are polluted with chemicals and stifled with growth of toxic algae due to soluble fertiliser run off.

He would surely be dazzled by the choice and convenience of produce available 365 days of the year.

But I wonder would he think it was all worth it, to get food at the cheapest possible price?  I would like to think he would say not.

So, in that first year, as myself, Jenny my wife and my dad Michael packed our first boxes on some pallets supported by empty Guinness barrels I wonder would he have thought we were mad?

Probably, most others did.  But I have a sneaking suspicion that he would have been proud and happy to see the farm being used to grow sustainable local food and respected in the same way as it was in his time.

Thank you, granddad, and thank you dad, without their hard work and belief none of this would have been possible.