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Monday, 14 June 2010

An Irish organic smallholding

organic vegetables, salads, fruit and herbs growing on an Irish smallholding in County Wicklow

Before we leave Ireland, I must tell you about a wonderful organic vegetable-growing smallholding I was priviliged to visit earlier this week on our press trip to Ireland. Castleruddery Organic Farm is situated on the western flanks of the Wicklow Mountains, just outside the village of Donard and not that far from Dublin. Their shop is open twice a week (see website), serving the local community, and they also have a stall once a week at Naas Farmers' Market. The owners, Dominic & Hilda King, strongly believe that food produced and sold locally supports the whole area: one euro generates twenty; for some shoppers this requires a considerable shift in thinking - but how much fresher and tastier are vegetables, salads, fruit and herbs grown within a few miles of one's home, saving on both food miles and fuel costs to reach the supermarket.

Hilda and her husband farm 15 acres of which 8 are woodland. They have one cow and seven sheep; three part-time workers all year round and three or more extra in the busy season. Polytunnels are used to fill 'the hungry gap' - that time of year in Spring when crops are in short supply. Abundant wildlife provides a natural preventative against pests; soil is kept in good heart through rotation and clover leys, and mulching with spent chicken manure.

Hilda King weeding the tomatoes in one of her polytunnels

Much of out press tour was by coach and this gave me the perfect opportunity as we travelled from south to north to record the local flora. I have a very long list which will appear in my travel journal eventually. To me, the wild fuschia (f.magellanica) has always epitomised Ireland; I did not expect to see it out so early nor in this part of the island, so took a quick snapshot of the first one we saw, thinking we might not see another. Later we spotted much better examples - I might cheat in my journal and use a photo taken the last time we visited Ireland.

Fuschia magellanica growing in a roadside hedge

If you would like to read a little more about our visit to Ireland (I appeared to be the only journalist sourcing garden subjects), take a look at my other two blogs which will outline the trip in installments. Click on links to the right of this post. Enjoy!


  1. Ann, I enjoyed the account of your visit to the organic smallholding. Looking forward to the next report!

  2. Oakdene Landscapes Ltd is owned and run by Stephen Conway in Delgany, Co Wicklow. Oakdene has over 20 years experience in the construction of quality gardens in Ireland. Plantscapes designs