An Grian Glas Farm – The organic farm


[Music] [Applause] [Music] [Music] [Music] and so my name is Casey Egan and my job at the moment is organic farmer slash freelance environmental educator and so I’m doing some consultancy and work and that’s how I came to this work so I first started off as an environmental educator and an environmental scientist and ecologist and now I’ve moved into growing food and we should say thank you to you both of you because without help and work like this as much knowledge it’s muddy and messy and sometimes we’re cranky and sometimes you know things are good better but it’s such a huge help yeah we don’t we don’t keep a table where we rank Hope volunteers based on how well they’ve done but you guys appreciated before I say any more I’m obviously Tom Carlin and I’m gonna put that I’m an occupational therapist first and then a grower organic grower secondly and I grew up with family who wanted to be not quite self-sufficient but very sufficient very sufficient and so we would have had an acre of land where we were on vegetables all my life that’s kind of what I grew up with we want soup for myself later in life and then as an occupational therapist we would use activity and therapeutic activity to help people and a lot so as part of that we often the people gardening growing planting sowing plants flowers vegetables whatever it might be and as it means to help them recover health so it’s always been something that I’ve been quite exposed to and interested in and loved every minute here my background is in environmental education and a big part of my motivation for working and creating what we’re creating here is to create something that’s like part of a network of resilience so a net and network of resilience so resilience being the idea that if things were to go wrong or the our food system our food system is quite unstable it’s quite and precarious so as one or two things go wrong in our food system then there’s a really big problem and so while we like to grow high quality vegetables for restaurants and for people who want to eat vegetables that are grown with a much better environmental focus and which much better health focus we’re also I’m also keen to create a place that an area of resilience so if something was to go wrong that we have these local sources of food that that aren’t relying on big inputs from other country I’m from factories and chemicals so even if oil stopped or we weren’t able to access fertilizers or something tomorrow we can still grow food and we can still feed a number of people here and that’s important to us and that we’re a place like a reserve almost for wildlife in Ireland too and it’s because becoming harder and harder for em are you know plants and animals that are native here to find places to live and to grow so we only have nine acres yes and only one acre is really devoted to horticulture which is the growing of vegetables two acres is put aside for the resilience project a food bar an agroforestry project that I would mentioned around the idea of and sustainable food systems and then we have I suppose two acres of orchard for fruit nosh and pigs for our own use and chickens temper eggs for ourselves and for sale as well and then yeah the other four acres and is going to be nation Portland and we have three with two ponies and one horse we have about eleven thirteen chickens thirteen egg-laying chickens so therefore dyeing eggs we have six Indian runner jokes and we have a cat we have a dog and we have a pig that is just here as a character on the farm yes she’s here until she died he’s essentially yeah she acts as our living wrote motivator so she digs up the ground for us and gets rid of the weeds and the roots and things in small patch at a time she serves her purpose as well but every so many years we we will raise and rare and pegs from wieners which is like when they’re about two months old until seven months old seven depending on how quick they grow what’s an Irish it’s an Irish name and we spent ages trying to cope with the name for the farm and so an Irish on green means the Sun and the word gloss means green and Irish so it’s like the green Sun obviously the Sun isn’t green but it’s this idea that the Sun provides a source of food for all that we grow here it’s the idea that really all green life is produced by the Sun so the Sun and everything that’s green makes food and energy from the light of the Sun so for us the Sun is this idea of source of sustainability and then it also shows our like Tommy’s in our sustainable principles and that the actual work we do is with Greek you know food that’s grown from but it was also this not like do you know what what a pawn is in the pawn P UN Epona’s like a play on words in the English language so on green so it’s like if you say it it’s like the green greens on the green green farm green the word Sun and Irish sounds like green so it’s you know that’s a gene we’ve been very clever yeah sure we are yeah at the for the most part Audion most of the animals have a role and obviously the dog is the earth for protection and companionship and cash gets rid of rats and mice and all the rest and it’s there for companionship and Pig was Tommy’s daughter is she’s the pig is her pet which she also served as purpose in helping us get rid of weeds and chickens lay eggs and get rid of slugs and snails and provide us with chicken fertilizer oh yeah I’m fertilizer and then the same for the dogs get rid of sorts now it’s give us eggs I’m Freddie fertilizer the horses are we don’t use them physically on the farm for like digging beds and things the way they would have replying essentially which would have been used and there’s two reasons for that one they’re not technically trained Girish now we could train them for but the area that we’re cultivating is actually so small at the moment it’s not worth their while to cultivate to train them for it however we are hoping to provide a farm therapy program and they may be used in that depending on the client that’s involved with that so they’re they’re also interesting for volunteers that come to stay because they like to learn about how we work with the horses and we trekked the they’re essentially my hobby for what a better way of putting it but my interest is in some things in dressage and they are trained through natural horsemanship techniques so again sort of spreading good high-quality the spreading education around high quality animal welfare is quite important but don’t we grow yeah it’s gonna say everything we can learn how to figure out how to grow so the last two years have been sort of an experiment for want of a better way of saying it the first year we really grew for ourselves and we sold a couple of boxes to friends and family and there seem to be really good interest and then last year our the interest grew and we sold to a restaurant and the demap we’ve sold everything that we grew so this year again where demand is increasing and we’re going to try and we’re setting up as an official business this year so what we grow is essentially what the demand is therefore so people love just the basics of carrots onions potatoes beetroot turnip cabbages cauliflower all your basics we have this one small tunnel and we are hoping to put up a second larger one and no this will be up by the end of March we hope yeah yeah no to be ready for the growing season this year April at the latest I’d say yes yeah loads of our next volunteers are going to be exhausted from digging bags he thought this tunnel was bad so the will grow tomatoes will grow kind of all of our canna heat-loving Thompson on the Paterno’s so our tomatoes and our don’ts don’t grow you can’t really grow outside I mean you can but you won’t get good yields I’m so will grow tomatoes and chilies peppers melons yeah we do melons last year for the first year and they like it’s just so amazing to see the difference in in the vegetables and one of the advantages we have being so small is that we get to pick varieties that taste really good so they might not give the hue biggest yields but the volumes were working with aren’t as large and say a really big commercial enterprise and we don’t have to look for the same level of production coming out and often when a plant is producing a lot of fruit the their taste often goes down because the nutrients and the flavor and everything is spread out over much much more and much more fruit so we’re able to pick varieties that are really interesting and tasty and restaurants really enjoy that because exactly yeah they want hi there aren’t really high quality they want stuff that has great flavor and they want things that are unusual as well so they can it attract different kind of customers that one time machines we grow cucumbers courgettes all different sorts of winter squashes and again it was really interesting because you know you buy a bag of salad in the supermarket and it asked about three or four days yeah and it was fascinating it was I that’s was my experience before we started growing it and then it was lasting like one or two weeks for us so it was just interesting to see how long the journey from the picking to the packaging and to processing and you know the effect that can have then on the actual product yeah so whereas here you know if you’re buying from us it’s cooked either that morning or the night before and then it goes out the next day and it lasts people a week or two yes what we think soap yeah the report the feedback has been positive for us that way you know but it is of course a very personal choice I think that’s one of the things that we would pride ourselves on is the freshness with the quality of the vegetables or salads that were I’m sending out in people’s boxes or to the restaurant and we keep we try something new each year we also then obviously have fruits and you know the orchards are only planted about two years so the yield work for mature work yeah they’re so quite young so our box customers do guess you know a few plums apples pears cherries and then currants and raspberries and berries but we don’t have it yeah it’s not a huge amount of them yes that we have enough put in a couple of years we will do.a matters a lot for me yeah it’s really because going organic I would hasten to say that so we’re not we’re not certified I’m the reason for that is purely that we’re in the setup stage and to get certified there are certain things we need to put in that we just don’t have the finances for it well we would like to be certified in time going forward we’re also trying to set ourselves up in such a way that I would say that we probably hopefully will be even go beyond the standards and we’re focused a lot on soil health so when you’re not organic a lot of what people are putting into the soil is nitrogen phosphorus and potassium and that feeds the plant and that will feed the plant but it won’t necessarily a decent heart yield and hard but it doesn’t it doesn’t feed the soil ultimately no it doesn’t but it also doesn’t Tech and contribute to the nutrient content that that vegetable so if you have your soil that has a high amount of nutrients vitamins minerals that the plant can access and make you’re essentially ending up with a more nutritious product and the same way you’re talking about the soil there’s we we are often forgetting about the life in the soil to put the animals and the fungi and the microorganisms that bette are both beneficial to the plant but also that a lot of research is coming up now about how it affects our own gosh so you know the way people are drinking that probiotic yogurt because the the bacteria is good bacteria in the yogurt that helps our digestive system well they’re looking into and finding that in the soil too and how then and I’m not exactly sure about the science yet I’m still reading up on it and learning about it but and how there’s a potential that that good bacteria can be present within our fruits and vegetables and help can help us them as well no just well it’s it almost goes to that idea of you are what you eat yeah so if you’re eating a vegetable or an item of fruit that has been grown organically you know that it’s not gonna have any contaminants that nature doesn’t provide in itself so your body’s gonna be able to handle that piece of food very well whereas unfortunately a lot of the foods that are readily available on a commercial scale in supermarkets or grocery stores have been I suppose they’ve been highly industrialized in terms of you know how they’ve been sprayed for herbicides for insecticides and even though that fruit or vegetable may have been washed and looked nice and shiny and clean you know inside if it’s a root vegetable it’s gonna have absorbed everything one so I suppose even on a personal level the idea of ingesting something that is organic even if it doesn’t over the effect like there’s lots of arguments about the nutrient quality of an organic food item versus a non-organic and then there may not be a huge difference like science if you look at say science is producing different Studies on that but on a health on a chemical level I think it’s very important um the back garden really a roof garden at one stage and I had lots of friends saying do you want to come and use my back garden because I knew I was quite passionate about growing food for myself and like I said growing up we had an acre and with my mom and dad and my family and but us as as as a team as a couple we have not something like this before we weren’t together three but we were living in Dublin for a year I was back living where we managed we were together a year we were living in Dublin we met in Dublin I was back giving in Dublin for a year saving up some money to buy a house and we meshed and I this was what I wanted all along this is exactly what I want to do and when we met it was something tell me you’d always wanted but maybe never I hadn’t taken any sex or was kind of waiting to see I was waiting for the right person yeah that’s what it was essential ingredient that I needed someone who just loved mud as much as um so anyway we we found this place and it all sort of kind of worked out just from there but before it’s funny you say you grew up with you know growing things like my mom can’t grow anything I I would I think I grew mint at one point and it still died and so it wasn’t until I was 27 26 27 that I started to actually learn how to grow things and Anna would have been a backyard scenario and if I was renting and and then I it was just at that point I was like I I’m really enjoying this so much that’s what I wanted to so I was working in Dublin for a charity and working on environmental and projects and I just think I want to actually do some things that are just teaching about it that’s how we answer I left Dublin at 17 and I come back there here and there when I needed somewhere to live like we all do it parents but I was living in with low for five years on and off from traveling and I’ve lived over in Galway Tipperary Cork so yeah just quite yeah happily to have any much prefer being outside of the city me I would have grown up in a village I’m in County Wexford for good nine years and as well used to country like it wasn’t a new thing yeah it’s the convenience of access yes probably one of the bigger things sound like when you’re living in the city you can take it for granted that you can pop to the restaurant pop just and I’m like it’s very easy to to do those more social pursuits whereas when you’re probably have to think of it more yeah I think the biggest the biggest shift has been the responsibility of the place you know in terms of like when both of us words maybe living in cities or suddenly going back in my early 20s I could just go off traveling or I could go just to visit a friend for the weekend now you know we have to have someone that can feeds 40-odd animals and and look after the place so responds yeah they’re learning to manage that in a way that doesn’t still leaves you have some form of a life is pretty important Trevor and spider-man there the thing where the uncle says to Peter Parker with great power comes great responsibility I didn’t know how much of a nerd he was great responsibility comes great power [Music] em question okay it’s interesting the idea of I think I suppose the word I take into issue is the term happy you know happiness comes and goes daily momentarily I find myself content and satisfied there are enormous challenges if this is not for someone who doesn’t want to do this and you know like getting up at 3:00 a.m. to bring horses in from the mud or to check animals because there’s a storm you know at that point in the lashing rain and mud it is that’s not for someone who isn’t happy good I mean you’re not gonna get up going yay can I do for you but yeah I will you get on with it and you’re gonna go okay did you know no matter what you do there’s going to be challenge nothing is is is easy but these are the challenges that I choose and I like and I am I relish in in terms of like I like to have a challenge I like that something’s naughty and and you have ups adapt but ultimately yes I would end content and satisfied absolutely yeah it’s where I want I would say like one of the one of the things that I’ve noticed about myself like so the area that I work in an occupational therapist is mental health and when I came home after a day’s work and more so in the summertime when there’s still ice I can see the farm and walk around I just always feel my energy levels level out like after a long day your energy I know you’re tired but you might be still thinking about different cases at work just not even doing a job just being here like all of a sudden you feel yourself like a nice time place so I love that the farm gives me that balancing sort of power that way we were only here two years do you know you see the orchard and the very first within three months of moving in here one of the first things I wanted to do is get down as many trees as we could afford but it wasn’t a huge amount but I got in and he’s gonna eat fruit trees and to see them now and like last year the first year there’s maybe like five apples last year there’s maybe 20 or 30 and absolutely and that’s every spring I and I keep wondering when am I gonna get bored of it but at the moment I haven’t and I haven’t for the last several years that I’ve been growing oh my god it’s germinated oh my god there’s buds on the trees the flowers are eyes and you know it just yeah the satisfaction and reward of seeing that is really there was this picture that went around last year around Apple harvesting time in which there was a storm passed across Ireland and they showed this photograph of the trees but not so many apples on them and all day all these beautiful yellow yellow red green apples on the ground it was a beautiful image that’s what I’d like us down yeah I would say the number of birds and the diversity of species of insects that we’ve seen and has been has just doubled yeah easily and I can afford seeing that in like five or ten years and saved by rot then it displays having a kid or cash there’s still lots of birds around yeah and some of them are system failures for me am I really get annoyed when things don’t work and cause inefficiencies for more demand on time because one of the biggest resources I mean we can open money all day being a bigger source a time like you only have 24 hours a day and you’re going to be asleep maybe around 7,000 then you might be doing other stuff for and work yeah so and when things break down that’s probably one of my biggest yeah like nature’s nature you can’t help that arranged you can’t help with us yeah we can look at better drainage so that the soil sort of doesn’t hold the water as well as well and that’s work on but it’s more silly things it’s probably a little bit different free but I know I mean it from experience you know like the there was one nice so we were learning had to put fence pigs and we had four pigs not last year before for robust mr. Columbus adventuring exploring they like to break out a laugh and it was midnight it was like it was a it was midnight and it was a what it was a midweek night while you were working the next day and they had they had broken out again and we had to get them back in and we have to hammer in the fence and the mud was like it is now and I just had I was you know it was raining as well like it was lashing rain the murders horrendous the wind was blowing it was so cold and I I wasn’t in the best of form but at one point like you know I got my legs got stupid noise and I just went flying backwards into a lovely soup of pig and mud and I just had one I just like locked up I started laughing this is who I was able to laugh yeah and it was it was hilarious so for me it’s keeping everything in my head you know what needs to be planted what needs to be sown who needs to be invoiced you know how do you know learning about his starting up a business learning about keeping different animals with grazing rotation systems you know the organic regulations the regulations and packaging if we were to package food yes I think the thing is if you were selling the same challenge every year for several years that’s where you’ll start to go crazy so they tell me saying yeah we you know the pigs broke out but now the next time we get them we are hoping that there’ll be a lot less problems with that we now know we’re better at paid husbandry there’s several things the layout of the farm is it sort of is ready like we the very first thing that we did was was planet eyes now it could have been found better with better knowledge but you know we have you know we’ve our areas for horticulture we have the area for the horses and native woodland we have the food forests really the next five to ten years is to develop the infrastructure around all of that so it needs to be more accessible need to be better paths and and there’s we will constantly tip away at things like increasing biodiversity getting more areas of like left our meadows and native species and ponds and more growing more unusual things to put say like this year we will put up the next tunnel I imagine that in about three years maybe less we will put in another tunnel look but I think three will probably be as much as we need the food forest I do want to develop and if I can vote between saving and funding because we want to develop it for tourism and therapeutic reasons so sometimes there’s some support for that we would like to put in a space like a classroom kind of space but that’s also a growing space and that can be used for some social farming sessions or therapeutic sessions or just education as well and growing and then there is a large pond we want to put in down in the very bottom field where the horses are in between the dislike for paddocks and in between the center of them and learn how to stop fish really so that we have another additional element of sustainability there yeah this is such problems with overfishing fish is very good for you and aquaculture is really growing as I think so to learn you know how we can have that respect naturally or you know it’s kind of a semi natural system that way you talked a lot about bees oh yes and goats eventually yeah I might be kind of a five or six year sort of a thing that goes to thankless but a certainly a core set the stage for exploring em diversity in animals and products and people – yeah as well as making sure that it’s not too much so that’s where maybe trying to fit it into three five years sure what I can imagine me would have and 20 bees before I yeah I think I think yeah I think by not this summer but the following summer I think we would really want to get the bees by then and I’ll have them set up because they will really impact pollination and then obviously our own productivity and yeah so these pond tunnel infrastructure yep [Laughter] [Music]

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