Fu­ture in­sights at grower con­fer­ence

Irish Examiner - Farming - - COUNTRY LIVING - Oliver Moore oliv­er­moore.blogspot.com

All roads lead to the Or­ganic Grow­ers of Ire­land’s Fu­ture Grow­ers con­fer­ence in Tul­lam­ore, Co Of­faly, on Tues­day, Novem­ber 27. The cost is just €25 per del­e­gate, which in­cludes con­fer­ence, car park­ing, re­fresh­ments and a light lunch. Key speaker is Chris Walsh of the Kin­dling Trust and Manch­ester Veg Peo­ple. We cov­ered this re­ally in­ter­est­ing ini­tia­tive, based in the the Manch­ester re­gion, back in 2015 in this col­umn. Briefly, a net­work of or­gan­i­sa­tions work to­gether in Greater Manch­ester to pro­vide a much-needed suite of ser­vices, from graded lev­els of train­ing to whole­sale pur­chas­ing, a box scheme and sup­ply to a range of eateries, in­clud­ing a Uni­ver­sity.

The Kin­dling Trust sup­port these, in­clud­ing Manch­ester Veg Peo­ple. Co-op­er­a­tive Manch­ester Veg Peo­ple bring to­gether lo­cal or­ganic grow­ers, buy­ers (res­tau­rants/cafes, cater­ers and the pub­lic sec­tor), and work­ers. Manch­ester Veg Peo­ple is dif­fer­ent from a tra­di­tional whole­saler - grow­ers work with buy­ers and plan based on likely de­mand.

Veg Box Peo­ple is an or­ganic box scheme sup­ply­ing 150 peo­ple in 11 lo­ca­tions around Manch­ester – also sup­ported by Kin­dling Trust. Res­tau­rants and the Uni­ver­sity of Manch­ester are also sup­plied. Sup­ply­ing the Veg Box Peo­ple are Two Farm Start ini­tia­tives. These are the UK’S very first farm in­cu­ba­tor ini­tia­tives, which “train grow­ers make a grad­ual tran­si­tion from com­mu­nity or al­lot­ment grow­ing to com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion” – to help up­scale part time grow­ers. Walsh is also a Trustee of the Real Farm­ing Trust, best known for its Ox­ford Real Farm­ing Con­fer­ence each year. Ac­cord­ing to OGI, “Chris will in­tro­duce the work of the Kin­dling Trust and its part­ners in build­ing a sus­tain­able food econ­omy in the North­west of Eng­land. (He will) ex­plore the chal­lenges and er­rors they have made over the last decade and high­light­ing the po­ten­tial and ben­e­fits of their unique ap­proach to col­lab­o­ra­tion: bring­ing grow­ers and buy­ers to- gether. In the sec­ond part of his talk, he will en­gage the au­di­ence in a con­ver­sa­tion about the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of sup­ply chain co-op­er­a­tion, both through pub­lic sec­tor pro­cure­ment and the grow­ing food ar­ti­san sec­tor in build­ing sus­tain­able and re­silient mar­kets.” This model has much to rec­om­mend it, so it will be in­ter­est­ing to see if any sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives can emerge here. The event also fea­tures some re­ally in­ter­est­ing new Ir­ish ini­tia­tives — Food­ture and Gorse Farm. Food­ture is a so­cial en­ter­prise and food ci­ti­zen­ship ini­tia­tive, run by Mayo farmer Sinead Mo­ran and her col­league Na­talie Markeifka. The pair “will dis­cuss its ob­jec­tives, why it ex­ists, in­sights into what read­ers, cit­i­zens are look­ing for and how farm­ers and cit­i­zens can get in­volved to help grow the move­ment.” Gorse Farm is a mar­ket gar­den, lo­cated in Bun­clody on the bor­der be­tween of Car­low and Wex­ford. The gar­den is run by Jenny Watkins and Janet Power, both Or­ganic hor­ti­cul­tur­ists with a pas­sion for a healthy en­vi­ron­ment and food sys­tem. The mar­ket gar­den op­er­ates within the Or­ganic stan­dards and re­ceived full Or­ganic Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in Fe­bru­ary 2018.

Gorse Farm is an or­ganic mar­ket gar­den sup­ply­ing su­per­mar­kets and res­tau­rants in Wex­ford and Car­low run by Jenny Watkins and Janet Power - both grad­u­ates of the Or­ganic Col­lege in Drom­col­logher Co. Lim­er­ick. Pro­duc­ing in a scenic spot look­ing out at Mount Le­in­ster and the Black­stairs moun­tain range, the pair have been farm­ing since Win­ter 2015/2016 and cer­ti­fied or­ganic since ear­lier this year.

The Gorse Farm con­ver­sa­tion will re­volve around: Q time­line of the farm’s de­vel­op­ment; Suc­cesses and fail­ures since start-up; Switch­ing to no-dig; An open dis­cus­sion on mar­kets: su­per­mar­kets, res­tau­rants and di­rect sales. Fu­ture pro­jec­tions Book­ings can be made via NOTS.IE, or call 071 9640688. With this range of de­tailed dis­cus­sion, at this price this event rep­re­sents very good value.

Chris Walsh of the Kin­dling Trust, guest speaker at Grow­ers event.

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