It’s In Our Blood

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.


Grabbing the Good Weather

One of the guys in the packing shed said to me yesterday, “you look cold and wet”. I was dressed in appropriate farm attire: dirty wet gear, but I responded that I was neither because I had about 12 layers of clothes on!

It has been dry and bright but biting cold over the last week. It takes resilience and strength of character to spend eight or more hours out in the fields in those conditions. The guys on the farm have been harvesting all week and it takes its toll not that they would ever say.

Even so our preference will always be for dry bright weather. It’s the rain and the muck of the west of Ireland that eventually grinds you down! We just get so much of it.

Chatting with Our tractor mechanic yesterday he commented how he never sees farm machines like we have on our farm here in the West of Ireland. The reason is pretty simple very few other farmers grow veg in this part of the world.

The weather and the stony ground contribute in equal parts to this fact. After all Cromwell did say “To hell or to Connaught” for a reason. But probably the biggest reason for the decline in local Irish food production lies with the supermarkets. The centralisation of our food supply and the constant obsession with the bottom line have decimated what was once a vibrant local food growing sector.

The breakdown of a key machine mid use is always a pain, but coupled with the added pressure the weather here in this part of the world puts on you it is doubly frustrating. Having a fantastic local tractor mechanic is nothing short of a miracle and I am constantly in awe of his skills and how he can make an untenable situation tenable again!

You have to grab the good weather, you have to make the most of it because you never know how long you will get here in the West and that is exactly what we did this week. We tilled the fields we prepared the ground and as I write this we have just finished preparing the beds for the new plants which are going in the week after next. Not only that but we have been so busy with harvest.

We have been clearing our swedes 1000’s of them to put them into cold store before they start regrowing and going to seed. Same with the lovely dirty parsnips you are getting in the boxes. The leeks and kale and cabbage and salad are all coming off our own fields too. So it has been a super busy week.

That’s the thing, that is the big difference between us and a supermarket: we actually grow your food, supermarkets don’t and they don’t care about the planet, they only care about price and uniformity. We know the woes and the highs of food production. We know that sustainable food production counts more than price, why? Because if we don’t produce our food sustainably, if it is always about the cheapest option, then in the end these choices will undermine the very system we rely on to feed ourselves.

Your choice to support us shows you too think differently and that you value knowing how your food is produced (sustainably) and where it comes from (local).

Thank you!


PS Our Build your own box is super-flexible, choose 13 items from a selection of more than 20 all for thirty euro.

Our Food System Needs to Change

Hannah used to love broccoli and then she did not and to this day that has not changed. I do love broccoli. I tend to love all vegetables really, and it is a good thing seeing as I run an organic vegetable farm.

It never ceases to amaze me how much vegetable food you can produce per acre, and how many people that can feed. At the very same time it also never ceases to amaze me how much our food system needs to change; it is broken and here are the three fundamental reasons why:

1. There are too many of us eating a Western style diet. Food inequality is huge and we in the West eat way more than our fair share.

2. Growing feed for animals is not an efficient use of a limited land space. To feed a growing population we need to change what we grow and what we eat. We cannot continue to produce and consume the same food in the same way there simply is not enough space on earth. (I know we have two rescue pigs, and they are eating machines, we feed them waste vegetables, but if we had to grow all the food that they eat, we would need acres just to feed them. Using land to produce vegetables to feed people is a highly efficient use of land.)

3. The supermarkets facilitate the expectation of cheap food and they control the food supply chain. Their pricing practice makes farmers reliant on a subsidy system. Our grandparents spent nearly 20% of their disposal income on food, today it is less than 10%. The main beneficiaries of our food system are the supermarkets, large agribusiness and large food corporations, not us the consumer.

A long-term view is often difficult to reconcile with our daily challenges and life stresses (holding a screaming child for instance, Hannah was not always that picture of calm!) But the climate is changing, the sea levels are rising, biodiversity is failing and change is necessary now.

We can open our eyes if we choose to, and take responsibility for our choices, we have much more power than we realise. We can’t change the food system over-night, but we can take positive action right now.

It will always be better to eat local food. It will always be better for our countryside and our health to eat more organic food. It will always be better for our health and the health of the planet to eat less meat. Here is what we/you can do right now:

1. Get a box from us, we do things right.

2. Cook from scratch, see our blog here for inspiration, recipes, and videos.

3. Eat no/less meat and dairy. If u do eat meat make sure it is local and organic where possible.

4. Dump the plastic at supermarket tills.

5. Talk about climate change, spread the word.

6. Choose to buy a little more local and sustainable food when you can.

7. Stop spraying chemicals in your garden.

8. Start spending your money locally.

9. Buy less stuff.

10. Plant one tree in your garden.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Meade


PS I know I am lucky I get to live and work on an organic vegetable farm, but we can all change our mindset and start seeing nature as an amazing resource that needs to be nurtured.