Meet the two women running a 3ac farm that challenges the notion of what being a farmer means
90pc of what they grow is sold to a local supermarket
Located in a picturesque setting in full view of Mount Leinster, Gorse Farm is a small market garden just outside of Bunclody, Co Wexford.
Established by Jenny Watkins and Janet Power in 2016 the farm is in its second year of production and will achieve full organic status with IOFGA in February 2018.
The couple met while studying horticulture at the Organic College in Dromcollogher, Co Limerick and decided to go into partnership to run their own business.
"Gorse Farm is a pretty small farm by Irish standards, being only three acres in size with just under an acre under cultivation," says Jenny. "This scale of farming challenges the notion of what being a farmer means.
All work is done by hand and is labour intensive. Our mission is to bring local fresh food to the people in our surrounding area. It is this belief in fresh natural food, eliminating unnecessary food miles and enhancing the ecology of the land that underpins what we do here," says Jenny.
They specialise in salad leaf production and supply seasonal salads to the local O'Reilly's SuperValu in Bunclody and also to Pettits SuperValus in Gorey, Enniscorthy and St Aidan's in Wexford. To date they have been encouraged by the support from these supermarkets, and 90pc of what they grow is supplied to them. Local cafés and restaurants such as The Forge near Altamont Gardens are also loyal customers.
Other crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, kale, edible flowers, beetroot and garlic are also grown. "Jamie Pettit was very excited to get a supply of Irish garlic, and it has grown well for us," says Janet.
Jenny had worked as a ceramic artist previously but her trade suffered during the recession and she was looking to make a change and retrained in organic food production.
When she left the Organic College she completed an internship with Rory Magorrian in Cork. Janet worked as a manufacturing specialist with a large multi-national company, but was interested in sustainable living. Her parents run an organic beef farm, also certified by IOFGA, in Kilmallock Co Limerick, so for her organic farming was a natural choice.
"The local community here in Wexford have been fantastic - our aim when starting Gorse Farm was to supply local food and without their support and encouragement it would not be possible," says Janet.
Their experience to date has been overwhelmingly positive and indicates that small scale farming is viable.
In the words of their hero, farmer and author Jean-Martin Fortier "there has never been a better time to get into farming - why not replace mass agriculture with agriculture by the masses?"
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