Saturday 20 January 2018

Food news: Cork's hydroponic heroine


Ellie Donovan of Green Space and Conrad Howard of Market Lane Group. Photo: Paddy O'Shea
Ellie Donovan of Green Space and Conrad Howard of Market Lane Group. Photo: Paddy O'Shea
Klaw Poke
John Wyer of Forest Avenue

Katy McGuinness

Ellie Donovan is the founder of start-up GreenSpace, Ireland's first commercial hydroponic garden. Her urban garden in Cork's inner city has recently secured the contract to supply the Market Lane Group, which includes some of the city's best-known restaurants.

GreenSpace picks and delivers to order, on a daily basis, a range of salad leaves, herbs and microgreens to restaurants and cafés around Cork that favour a strong eco and low food-mile offer. A combination of organic growing techniques and hydroponic systems are used to ensure optimum flavour and nutritional content.

Donovan learned her trade on the Mount Juliet Estate in Co Kilkenny and went on to work at Market Lane's restaurant garden at Blackrock Castle, before starting her own company in 2016.

GreenSpace is located within two-and-a-half miles of many of the restaurants it supplies, including Market Lane, Orso, the Castle Café in Blackrock, Elbow Lane and the rapidly expanding Elbow Lane nanobrewery. Donovan already plans for GreenSpace to extend its range to include hops for the nanobrewery.

Market Lane is one of a growing number of operators in the restaurant business to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to reducing food miles and food waste while providing the freshest organic ingredients to its customers. The group already works closely with traders in Cork's English Market, from where it sources most of its meat and fish, as well as with a host of foragers, artisan cheesemakers and local producers in Cork and throughout Munster.

Ellie Donovan (pictured with Conrad Howard of the Market Lane Group) says that she has noticed a definite increase in consumers' interest in more locally grown produce. "At GreenSpace we are bringing local and fresh to a whole other level for those that care about food. Our growing methods do not deplete soil or waste water, they avoid the carbon emissions and nutrient loss associated with food transportation, and can be grown all year round. Produce that has to travel thousands of miles can't provide the best for the end customer. Our plants are grown right on the doorstep and delivered daily."

Donovan says one of the things she most enjoys about her work is collaborating closely with the chefs that she supplies to develop an ever-expanding range of ingredients to inspire new dishes, drinks, infusions and menus.



Klaw Poke

Niall Sabongi is a young restaurateur to watch. His latest venture is Klaw Poké, at 159 Capel Street in Dublin, which introduces the wildly popular Hawaiian raw fish and vegetable bowl to Ireland. Prices from €8 for a yellowfin tuna poké bowl to €15 for lobster. See


John Wyer of Forest Avenue

The Chefs' Skills course at Lynda Booth's Dublin Cookery School (June 26-30, €650) promises to teach students to create exquisite dishes to restaurant standard. Guest chefs include Ciarán Sweeney of Forest & Marcy and John Wyer (above) of Forest Avenue. See



Meatopia, a festival celebrating the best of ethical meat and artisan butchery, will come to Dublin and Guinness's Open Gate Brewery for the first time on July 1 and 2. Expect music, craft beer, fire and smoke... and lots of meat. Tickets €65-€70 from

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