Meet the two women behind Gorse Farm. Jenny & Janet, driven by a passion for organic, health food took a leap of faith in 2015 and started their own market garden. They work in harmony with nature to produce fair food for their local community! Know your farmer, know your food.
Tell us a little about Gorse Farm:
Gorse Farm is a market garden, located in Bunclody on the border between the counties of Carlow and Wexford. The garden is run by us, Jenny Watkins and Janet Power, both Organic enthusiasts with a passion for healthy natural foods. The vegetable garden operates within the Organic standards and received full Organic Certification in February 2018.
The idea for Gorse Farm came about when Jenny and I, both graduates of the Organic College in Dromcollogher Co. Limerick, decided to bring our skills together and establish an organic vegetable farm in the sunny south east. The farm is located in a very scenic spot looking out at Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs mountain range. The project began in the winter of 2015/2016 with the planting of more than 400 trees as a shelterbelt. By summer 2016 two 50ft polytunnels were constructed and a few months later Gorse Farm produce was on the shelves in local Supervalu’s in Wexford.
Farmers have long since been seen as custodians of the land but this reputation has sadly been tarnished by the widespread use of agrochemicals in the last 50 years. Organic farming, on the other hand, represents a return to pre-industrial farming values. This ethos is at the core of Gorse Farm as it encompasses a holistic approach to healthy food production, land management and care of the environment.
What do you do?
We are a small organic market garden, specialising in salad leaves and other leafy greens for supermarket sales. We are regularly asked about expansion plans but are content with what we have, We aim to make a modest living doing something that is good for our community. We only supply locally, within county Wexford and to a much smaller extent Carlow (we live right on the border of these two counties). We encourage new entrants into small-scale farming and consider this style of agriculture the most sustainable method of feeding our community and respecting and nurturing the land.
“What you do makes a difference….you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make” – Jane Goodall.
Tell us how you farm?
We are passionate about organics. Organic, or BIO as it is known in other European countries is an internationally recognised standard. All EU growers adhere to the same regulations, which are strenuously upheld by the appointed regulatory bodies providing a consistency that is beneficial to both producer and especially the consumer.
We have both studied permaculture and hold PDC’s. We apply the permaculture principles throughout our business. Biodynamics is something we are endeavoring to practice more; we do follow the Maria Thun planting calendar where schedule allows it and believe in this approach.
Good soil health is key to human health; how do you protect, conserve, maintain soil health and quality?
We are very conscious of our soil and what we need to do to maximise its health. We get regular soil tests in order to understand what areas we need to focus on, such as adding additional boron and organic matter. Our focus in these early years is to increase the organic matter content of the soil which is essential for holding on to water and nutrients. We make use of green manures, undersowing and mulching to avoid bare soil. Our longer-term aim is to go completely no-dig which is the least intrusive method of growing vegetables. Finally, soil health is a guiding principle of organics.
How do you contribute to the protection or conservation of biodiversity on your farm?
We dedicate around 25% of our growing area to permanent hedges, trees, and wildflower banks. Prior to starting any cultivation, we planted a double row of native trees around the perimeter of the farm. We have since added a living hedge and maintain a perennial wildflower bank. Because of these measures we have seen a huge increase in the bird population as well as a mass of bumble bees attracted to the wildflowers.
Where can citizens find your Fair Food?
We sell through local Supervalu’s. We also supply local restaurants with leaves and other seasonal produce. Most importantly, we only sell what we grow ourselves, we don’t import food. We also don’t deliver. Instead, you can call our farm where we have an honesty box that houses some surplus vegetables and our home reared organic eggs.
“This piece was originally published on foodture”.