Why we do it without chemicals…

On recent days it has been pleasant and invigorating to walk the farm and experience the soft warm rain on our faces. An unusual experience for the west coast of Ireland if the truth be told, cold biting wind and stinging rain being the more customary Irish weather! The warm weather has been gratefully accepted and unlike many places we are happy to receive the rain at least now, at this point in the year, when many in other parts of the world are suffering from drought.

The rain has made sticky muck out of the dusty dry soil, The land is now slippery, and sticky and you must move with care, lifting and carrying heavy crates is a more fraught affair.  Nevertheless, there is an enlivening feeling in the warm rain and without it there would be no growth.

The rain and heat have brought on growth at an astounding place.  We have observed unimaginable crop and weed growth in the space of a week, and we are now presented with the unenviable fact that there is a lot of hand weeding to do.

Many would say that weeds have their place, and they do, but it would be naive on a commercial organic farm to take this laissez-faire approach to weeds, we would have no harvest. Weeds compete for light, nutrients, and oxygen, they harbour little creatures (and especially slugs) that will eat the crops and they can restrict airflow leading to increased disease.

Not all weeds are “bad”, weeds provide a haven for good creatures, for wildlife, birds eat their seeds and hide in their shade. It is when they get out of control that you have a problem.

Weed control is one of the key distinctions between organic and conventional farming. Conventional farmers are not faced with this relentless pressure to weed. Their weed control comes out of a white plastic bottle, sprayed onto the crops and the ground to kill the unwanted plants.

In conventional farming, the farmer sprays, he starts with roundup to “clean” the land then may apply pre and post crop emergence chemicals/herbicides.  Crops can be sprayed several times in their lifespan. All these chemicals can reside in the food that is ultimately produced. The impact on of these chemicals on biodiversity is large and destructive. There are no chemicals used on our farm nor will there ever be, but despite our best efforts we now face days of hand weeding.

So we walk the farm feel the rain on our faces, touch the warm courgettes on the plants, examine the healthy and vibrant lettuces (Of which we have too many) taste the first baby carrots, pull the best beetroot we have ever grown on the farm and all in all, although there is still plenty of work to be done we are grateful for the beautiful and healthy bounty of the land. The food feels clean and healthy and powerful, and just to hold it whilst standing in the rain feels like you are increasing your life energy.

We are harvesting this produce every day, from tomatoes to beetroot, we are picking and bringing it straight to our pack house to be packed into your boxes. We hope that you at home are feeling a little bit of that energy we are feeling and are enjoying your positive contribution to you and your families health and know that you are making a meaningful positive commitment to the planet.

Thank you.