Farm Ireland

Thursday 19 April 2018

My week: Grace Maher, Nurney,

Organic vegetable and fruit grower Grace Maher from Nurney, Co Carlow
Organic vegetable and fruit grower Grace Maher from Nurney, Co Carlow

Ken Whelan

It's time to harvest the tomatoes and Grace Maher is wondering if we will ever get a bit a sun to blush up her crop.

"Where is the sun? I haven't seen much of it this summer," says the horticulturist who produces organic tomatoes, salad leaves, peppers, aubergines and strawberries for the booming organic market. Her customers include a smoothie manufacturer in Dublin.

She grows her crops on five acres of her parents' 140ac tillage farm at Nurney, Co Carlow and she learned the business side of organics through the farmers' market route.

Grace now splits her time between farming and working as a development officer with the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA).

Last week she hosted organic dairy farmers from Switzerland and Germany on a farm walk in Croom, Co Limerick and later in the week she co-ordinated a teleconference between Irish and European organic dairy farmers. The mother of two children, Rowan (6) and Euan (1), is happy with the progress of organic farming here.

"It's on the up. Certainly the demand for organically grown food has increased among the public both in Ireland and across Europe. There is a price differential of about 10pc but that does not seem to concern our consumers who are willing to pay for the quality of produce being grown,'' she says.

Next on the to-do list at Nurney is planting winter cover to improve soil quality in advance of the spring planting. Embracing the organic ethos has been an interesting journey for the NUI Maynooth masters graduate in history

Her partner in the journey is her Californian husband, Brandon, an abstract artist, who upped sticks from San Francisco with his JI visa partner for the delights of farming and family life in Carlow.

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