Future insights at grower conference
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.