Seeds of change and national biodiversity week…

I got a few rare days this week to spend time out on the farm and in the tractor, it has been a pleasure. We have been sowing many direct seeded crops, such as carrots, parsnips, beetroot, swede and of course our wildflowers.

It’s been a week to the day that we sowed the first buckwheat, wildflower, and clover seeds and today they have started to germinate. I cannot wait to see the field in full bloom in 2 months’ time. It will be a haven for creatures great and small, a little oasis to fund our biodiversity bank.

We are completely dependent on this web of interconnectivity for our survival, it is that simple, without a healthy ecosystem we (humans) will not survive.  The richness of biodiversity mirrors the health of our planet, locally and globally and the news unfortunately is not good. The use of chemicals in agriculture and the large crop monocultures are directly responsible for the destruction of habitats and the biodiversity that relies on these habitats for survival. We need nature plain and simple.

Here are some key facts:

Do you remember all the insects you used to see on the car windscreens when you were younger? Where have they all gone?   Flying insect numbers have plunged by 60% since 2014 a British survey has shown, by measuring insect splats on cars. By 2015 each hectare of land in the UK received 3.9 kg of pesticides in 17.4 applications and eighty-seven percent of the total toxicity being applied to fields in 2015 was due to neonicotinoids. A six-fold increase in potential toxicity to insects in the period 1990–2015 corresponds closely with the timing of the 76% decline in flying insect biomass recorded in Germany in the period 1989–2014.

This very large increase in toxicity was mainly due to the introduction and widespread adoption of neonicotinoid insecticides from 1994 onwards. On the 27th of April 2018, this class of pesticides was banned from all outdoor use in the EU and will give our bees and insects a fighting chance at survival, at least you would think. However, in the years since, “emergency authorisations” for the use of these chemicals has been granted.  In many cases these authorisations were granted repeatedly, or without any apparent evidence of an unusual or ‘emergency’ situation as justification.

Banning the use of these chemicals was a fantastic and positive step.

Next week is national Biodiversity week and there are so many other positive steps that we as farmers and gardeners can take now to improve biodiversity and help the bees and insects.

We have beehives on our farm, and they give us so much, bumper crops of courgettes for one. It is only right that we sow wildflowers and leave our kale to flower to feed them. We purposely leave brambles along all our walls, their flowers are an early food source for the bees (as are dandelion flowers), we leave wild areas where plants can go to flower.

But it was when we started planting wildflower strips that we noticed an astounding level of bee life. There were honeybees and several different types of bumble bee, and all sorts of other flying insects. We had created a farm reef for bees! On a sunny evening there are thousands of bees and insects humming away, and it is not until you look closely that you notice.

These steps have meant that we have an abundance of insect life on our farm, and I think it may be working in our favour.  It seems that if we look after biodiversity, it will look after us and a more integrated approach to food production does work very well indeed.

Here’s to sustainable food and to the bees and to hopefully a return to the insects on our windscreens.


PS So don’t forget to place your order, and if there is two things you can do to support National Biodiversity week they are: “DO NOT spray your road verges with Roundup! and DO let an area of your garden go wild! Thank you”  Also remember delivery is still FREE when you spend over €100.

Sowing the Seeds of Love

These lyrics from ‘Tears for Fears’ may not have been talking about plants, but they do describe activities on the farm this week.

The last seven days have been a stretch on the farm for all sorts of reasons. We are very lucky to have, in every area of our business, strong teams and the farm is no exception.

When you don’t need to ask and yet the lads put in 12-hour days to get the sowing done before the rain you know you have special people. 

In vegetable farming it is about a great many things but right at the top of the list is timing.

Getting the timing right is powerful stuff and the race against the rain in the West of Ireland is always a close call and fraught with uncertainty.

I am relieved that the carrots, parsnips, beetroot, and spinach are all now in the ground. There is more to sow, but the first batches are sown and that has for now stilled the vague buzz of concern at the back of my mind that we will not win the race against the weather.

The first tomatoes, cucumbers and a host of broccolis, cabbages, kales, romanescos and more are all planted and making good progress.

So, we march on, the first weeding is happening the first harvest of new season crops too, our own gorgeous lettuce and spinach, chard, radish parsley and more.

‘Feel the pain, talk about it’ another lyric from the same great song. There has been hard work certainly, pain a little, satisfaction at a job well done for sure. But there is pain in the modern world of food production and we in our own little way we are attempting to set that right.

Although we have been very busy with the work of growing food our care for the land has certainly not been forgotten, the wildflowers, the hedges and wildlife, the trees, the birds and beehives, the pigs and the foxes, the work on those long term valuable investments has already been done in quieter days.

The fruits and benefits of which now we can see.

Every day I am so grateful to be able to do this, I am grateful to you for giving us and our farm the opportunity to thrive.

Your choice to get a box from us is an amazingly positive thing and you should know it is making a difference for you and your families health, and for the health of the planet.

Thank you.


PS: Have you tried our new repeat order system yet? You can set up an order for delivery every week and you can pause it or change it at any time.  So if you need certain things each week why not add them to your regular fruit and veg order and never miss your order deadline again?