‘Our farm size chal­lenges the no­tion of what be­ing a farmer means’

Irish Independent - Farming - - ORGANICS -

LO­CATED IN a pic­turesque set­ting in full view of Mount Le­in­ster, Gorse Farm is a small mar­ket gar­den just out­side of Bun­clody, Co Wex­ford.

Es­tab­lished by Jenny Watkins and Janet Power in 2016 the farm is in its sec­ond year of pro­duc­tion and will achieve full or­ganic sta­tus with IOFGA in Fe­bru­ary 2018.

The cou­ple met while study­ing hor­ti­cul­ture at the Or­ganic Col­lege in Drom­col­logher, Co Lim­er­ick and de­cided to go into part­ner­ship to run their own busi­ness.

“Gorse Farm is a pretty small farm by Ir­ish stan­dards, be­ing only three acres in size with just un­der an acre un­der cul­ti­va­tion,” says Jenny. “This scale of farm­ing chal­lenges the no­tion of what be­ing a farmer means.

All work is done by hand and is labour in­ten­sive. Our mis­sion is to bring lo­cal fresh food to the peo­ple in our sur­round­ing area. It is this be­lief in fresh nat­u­ral food, elim­i­nat­ing un­nec­es­sary food miles and en­hanc­ing the ecol­ogy of the land that un­der­pins what we do here,” says Jenny.

They spe­cialise in salad leaf pro­duc­tion and sup­ply sea­sonal sal­ads to the lo­cal O’Reilly’s Su­perValu in Bun­clody and also to Pet­tits Su­perValus in Gorey, En­nis­cor­thy and St Ai­dan’s in Wex­ford. To date they have been en­cour­aged by the sup­port from these su­per­mar­kets, and 90pc of what they grow is sup­plied to them. Lo­cal cafés and res­tau­rants such as The Forge near Al­ta­mont Gar­dens are also loyal cus­tomers.

Other crops such as toma­toes, cu­cum­bers, pump­kins, kale, ed­i­ble flow­ers, beet­root and gar­lic are also grown. “Jamie Pet­tit was very ex­cited to get a sup­ply of Ir­ish gar­lic, and it has grown well for us,” says Janet.

Jenny had worked as a ce­ramic artist pre­vi­ously but her trade suf­fered dur­ing the re­ces­sion and she was look­ing to make a change and re­trained in or­ganic food pro­duc­tion.

Sus­tain­able liv­ing

When she left the Or­ganic Col­lege she com­pleted an in­tern­ship with Rory Magor­rian in Cork. Janet worked as a man­u­fac­tur­ing spe­cial­ist with a large multi-na­tional com­pany, but was in­ter­ested in sus­tain­able liv­ing. Her par­ents run an or­ganic beef farm, also cer­ti­fied by IOFGA, in Kil­mal­lock Co Lim­er­ick, so for her or­ganic farm­ing was a nat­u­ral choice.

“The lo­cal com­mu­nity here in Wex­ford have been fan­tas­tic — our aim when start­ing Gorse Farm was to sup­ply lo­cal food and with­out their sup­port and en­cour­age­ment it would not be pos­si­ble,” says Janet.

Their ex­pe­ri­ence to date has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive and in­di­cates that small scale farm­ing is vi­able.

In the words of their hero, farmer and au­thor Jean-Martin Fortier “there has never been a bet­ter time to get into farm­ing — why not re­place mass agri­cul­ture with agri­cul­ture by the masses?”

Jenny Watkins and Janet Power on their three acre or­ganic farm near Bun­clody, Co Wex­ford

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