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Cork Independent

Bia Sasta

Local produce is best for all

Thursday, 12th September, 2019 8:37am

Over the years, I have written about farming and farmers, have had discussions on the subject, have interviewed people on the subject and have in general annoyed people who had no interest in the subject.

I am not talking about the huge concentrated farms that have no regard to the soil and environment but the farmers who go the extra mile, the ones that care about the next generation even if it means hard work.

At a recent walk on the pig farm of Rosscarbery Black Pudding, Avril Allshire-Howe said something that stuck with me: “Planting a tree is to believe in tomorrow.”

She and her husband run a successful business on a small scale, creating award-winning black and white pudding and other pork and beef products. Their tagline is ‘made by our family not by a factory’ and they are not interested in exporting to far-away countries but to maintain a sustainable farm to hand over to their two sons.

Caroline Robinson, who many will know from her stall at the Cornmarket Street farmer’s market, and her husband have been growing organic vegetables for the last 20 years – at a time when organic was considered a ‘hippy’ thing.

They were told you couldn’t make a living from a 30 acres farm growing organic vegetables. Now, 20 years later, this ‘hippy’ farm supports two families as their son has joined the business.

A walk on their farm last Sunday saw about 50 people (if not more) following Eddie Robinson around the hippy farm in total awe of what a vision and hard work can accomplish.

Seeing the two very different farms accomplishing something that we took for granted 100 years ago makes me hopeful for the future.

Now, the question is, could Ireland feed itself? According to these farmers the answer is yes – with a few changes to our habits and more support from the Government.

But are we willing to choose our food differently, not to go for the cheapest option and not to buy strawberries in December? Could we encourage more farmers to be like Avril, Caroline and Eddie?

Science has proven that food that is grown in your area is best for you – so wouldn’t it make sense to have local farms supply local markets for local people? Okay, let’s face it – it is hard so let’s start with small changes.

Get a seasonal calendar of Irish food and try to make small adjustments.

It might be difficult to get to farmer’s market during the week but initiatives like NeighbourFood are there to help (you order online and can pick up after work at a set date).

Or why not make it a habit to visit a farmer’s market at the weekend? Take the kids, get to know the producers, listen to the music (most markets have musicians), taste fresh food and make an event of it.

I did it with Little Miss Sophie and she loved it (she even tried different foods on the day). Just don’t let large corporates tell you that you are too busy to eat well or follow self-appointed gurus!

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