Saturday 16 December 2017

Your Local Food Network is a growing phenomenom

David Tucker

GREEN SHOOTS: The network's mission is to show that there is a realistic alternative to chemically-driven produce.
GREEN SHOOTS: The network's mission is to show that there is a realistic alternative to chemically-driven produce.
Denis Shannon,Cubslough Farm, Killinick and Merv Morrison of The Veg Patch, Ferns.
Olive and Desmond Thorpe of Knockroe Organic Farm.
Tracy Anne Fennell and Steve Whiteside of The Ethical Farmer.
Karen Nolan, Food Network founder.

WEXFORD'S recently-formed 'Your Local Food Network' is gathering shape as more small producers in the county come forward to join what could be a minor revolution in the way our food is grown and bought.

The project is being championed by this newspaper as part of the local newspaper sustainable community initiative 'Get Involved'.

The brains behind the food network, Karen Nolan has a mission in life: To try to connect local food producers with their customers and to show that there is a realistic alternative to the chemically-driven produce which so often crowds the shelves of our shops and supermarkets.

At the tail end of winter, and with salad crops beckoning, the network now has eight members and Karen is optimistic that more will soon join as the organisation gets more publicity and people begin to realise the benefits of joining it.

'The growing season for a lot of the growers is only beginning, so a lot of the produce isn't available yet,' she said, at the first meeting of network members in Wexford town.

'I'm passionate about food sovereignty and environmental issues,' said Karen, who formed 'Your Local Food

Network' to create opportunities for interaction within local communities, and has recently set up a website

She believes that similar networks could be replicated throughout Ireland.

The website's primary function is to accumulate a directory of local producers and create awareness of what is being produced on our doorstep.

'There a preference for those that produce using organic methods and exercise responsible stewardship of soil, water, and other natural resources; biodiversity; non-toxic growing practices; economic viability; transparency and an annual open farm policy.'

Your Local Food Network aims to give local growers and farmers a place to come together and celebrate good, hard, honest work - the work done by the hands of our neighbours.

Your Local Food Network aims to help Wexford people to access food that is grown close by and without the intervention of chemicals.

'If Michael Kelly (of GIY fame) can grow an organisation from a garlic bulb, imagine what we can grow by supporting our local food producers,' said Mervyn Morrison, from The Veg Patch, one of the network's members.

Following is a list of members of 'Your Local Food Network'

Regan's Organic Farm, Caim

Mary Regan, from Regans Organic Farm, in Caim, said that with a background in Ag Science (B Ag. Masters in Food), she was always interested in food production.

'I originally worked in an animal meal company. That company started me on my organic journey when they (ahead of their time) started producing organic meal. The more research I did, I realised how happy the animals were in a free ranging organic environment, and the taste was great.It's been an amazing journey over the past few years on our small holding in the shadow of the Blackstairs Mountains in Wexford. We have been Certified by the Organic Trust since 2016.'

Food is produced on the farm on a weekly basis with the highest regard for the welfare of our animals and in harmony with nature and our natural surrounds.

'We now have our own EU approved on farm slaughter facility where we have full control over the slaughtering of our chickens and ducks under the supervision of the Local Authority vet. Our chickens and ducks are packaged, labelled, and stored in our own cold room facility. We deliver our produce to Dublin, Wexford and Cork every Wednesday.'

Regans Organic Farm, Dranagh Lane, Caim, 086 6047450

Nicharee Organic Farm, Duncormick

William Considine M Sc (Agr), of Nicharee Organic Farm has been a dairy farmer, pedigree beef breeder, teacher and founder of the Irish Agricultural Science Teachers' Association (IASTA ). He currently works at obtaining a social, environmental and financial return from Nicharee Farm where the main enterprise is pastured Angus organic beef production. Pastured meat is the name given to meat grown solely from grassland that is carefully managed to maximise carbon sequestration while providing optimal nutrients to the animals through natural grazing. In October 2016 William was given the privilege of a place on an EU expert panel on Agroforestry. Owing to the additional research and travel involved in this temporary role, direct sales of Nicharee Farm, Fully-Pastured, Organic Angus Beef Boxes have been suspended for a year.

Nicharee Organic Farm, Duncormick,

The Ethical Gardener, Gorey

When Tracy Anne and Steve from The Ethical Gardener moved to a little coastal spot outside Gorey in 2011, they had no idea they had no idea their future would involve green fingers and organic Microgreens. But it was a natural progression in many ways, both having a love of gardening, nature and food. At the 'EG HQ' they grow a large selection of organic gourmet micros from Cinnamon Basil, Popcorn shoots and Lemon Balm to Dill, Coriander & French Sorrel. At any one time, they have 14-18 varieties on their menu. The Ethical Gardener received their organic certification from the Organic Trust in November 2016 & both stress the important of this for their micro-farm's ethos, 'we are what we eat, so let's give our bodies the best!' At present the Microgreens are grown primarily for the restaurant trade and those interested in the health benefits of the little greens. For more info see: or follow them on Facebook & Instagram.

The Ethical Gardener, Poulshone, Gorey, 053 9485535

Greenfields Farm, Killinick

Greenfields Farm is where former chef Alan Kennedy, in search of the 'Good Life', started growing and trading in the Bullring market Wexford seven years ago. Thanks to the loyalty of a growing customer base the business has expanded and become more successful each year. Alan's partner, Tracy, became 'assistant weed puller' about two years ago. And in a few weeks it will be a proper family business as Tracy is expecting their second child. Customers are usually looking for healthy lifestyle choices and Greenfields Farm provides this by growing a wide range of seasonal vegetables in the local Wexford area that are harvested as needed to ensure freshness.

'We also have our own free range eggs, cut flowers, dressings and oils, veg plant sales and are a supplier of local Rosslare raw honey. We use low impact, sustainable farming methods which means all our produce is Free From synthetic chemicals like pesticides and herbicides,' said Alan.

Greenfields Farm, Killinick, 087 6782833

Cubslough Farm, Killinick

Cubslough Farm are small scale vegetable growers based in Killinick. 'We grow a wide variety of seasonal vegetables and do not use chemical fertilisers or sprays,' said green-fingered Denis Shannon. 'For selling, we use the words "Chemical Free" as we are not allowed use the word "Organic" because we do not do the paper work for official certification. We sell directly to the consumer at wexford farmer's market which takes place in Tesco's Car park, Wexford town every Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.'

'Later this year we have plans to set up a website that will allow customers to order their vegetables online and collect at our market stall or other pre-arranged site. Our aim is to create a diverse eco system that promotes soil fertility and encourages wildlife on our smallholding.'

Cubslough, Killinick, 087 4114481

The Veg Patch, Ferns

Merv and Michelle Morrison, from Ferns, are former graphic designers who, having arrived at a point of almost self sufficiency in their garden, thought it would be a good idea to spread the word of how good home-grown is and help people lessen their dependence on processed foods.

They took the concept of a kitchen garden and scaled it up, the end result - the Veg Patch.

'At the Veg Patch, we grow all our own vegetables. Vegetables that are in season and free from chemicals. We deliver them fresh to your door - within hours of being harvested. We love growing our vegetables and sharing them with others. We like to say that we don't just grow vegetables - we nurture them,' said Michelle.

The Veg Patch now offers a Box Scheme to customers living in central county Wexford, Gorey, Enniscorthy and Wexford town. They also provide fresh produce to local restaurants. We are delighted to be able to offer a limited number of places to new customers for this season's Box Scheme and are well on our way to gearing up for production.

The Veg Patch, Ferns, 087 2361508

Tara Hill Honey

Tara Hill Honey is based on the Eastern Slopes of Tara Hill. It is a coastal location and an ideal site for mating Queen Bees.

'Our Honey mainly comes from Blackberry and Clover and also all the wild flowers within a 3 mile radius from our home,' said Michael Wildes.

'Our honey is brought to the market in a raw state, rich in enzymes, pollen and 100 per cent natural flavours. Our honey is collected between the months of May and August. We relocate our bees according to the availability of flowers throughout the year.

'We also work closely with local farmers in the pollination of Oil Seed Rape, Apples, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackcurrants and Field Beans. Weather Permitting we bring our Bees to the Wicklow Mountains to collect Heather Honey from the wild Heather which grows there in abundance. Our Pure Irish Honey is a 100 per cent natural product which can be used in numerous ways such as; cooking, skincare and the treatment of burns/cuts/ulcers.'

Tara Hill Honey, 087 2213754

Knockroe Organic Farm, New Ross

Knockroe Organic Farm is based at Knockroe, New Ross, where Desmond and Olive Thorpe have been farming organically since 1985. They grow a range of organic vegetables, mainly brassicas, which includes, broccoli, swedes, cabbages, red cabbage, brussels sprouts, flower sprouts, kales, along with leeks, lettuce, fennel, parsley and courgettes and plant from April until July with harvesting usually commencinge in July continuing to the end of February of the following year.

'Our vegetables are mostly sold to a wholesaler who supplies a number of the large supermarket chains, including Supervalu, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi etc. We sell direct to a selected number of stores, Ardkeen Quality Foodstore, Waterford, Full and Plenty New Ross, Pettitts, Wexford, Gorey & Enniscorthy and to various groups/people who have markets around the South East,' said Denis.

'In addition to our vegetables we also grow oats, which is sold to Flahavans for organic porridge and we have a small flock of sheep and the suckler cows.'

Knockroe Organic Farm, Knockroe, New Ross, 087 7971205/087 9517152 Email:

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