Kelly's Resort Hotel & Spa in Rosslare is leading the way in sustainable tourism, and has just reaped the benefits of its hard labour with an impressive first crop from the new kitchen gardens.
Located on two sites, each garden is very different from the another. The most advanced kitchen garden to date is located in an old overgrown semi-walled garden, which has been transformed while keeping the old garden structure. The farmyard has also been transformed, with two large polytunnels, one for cropping and the other for plant propagation.
The second kitchen garden location is at Kelly's Resort just behind the new multi-use sports arena, which was a greenfield site. Kelly's have kept the design very simple, keeping in mind elements such as sunlight, shelter, shade and soil type which determined the polytunnel location, utility area and cropping areas.
A pedestrian pathway runs through the garden so hotel guests can take a stroll, enjoy the tranquillity of the gardens while watching their food grow.
Owner Bill Kelly said the gardens will enhance the customer experience. 'People are now more health conscious and dietary requirements have changed over the years. Guests are demanding fresher food that has been sourced locally, and hotels across the country are now creating gardens and small farms to grow their own herbs and vegetables. As we feel strongly about locally sourced produce, we are now committing to growing our very own ingredients,' Bill said.
'We have over three acres and four large polytunnels been developed for the kitchen alone. This is not just "lip service". It will allow us to create a food path, which is truly in tune with the season and a million miles away from global methods of industrial food production.'
Kelly Resort Hotel's Head Gardener Deirdre Howlin works full-time with Bill and Kelly's Executive Chef, Eugene Callaghan, on the different varieties of seasonal vegetables ensuring the hotel gets maximum yields from the ground, while giving back to the land at the same time. 'Our aim is to supply the Kelly's Hotel with fresh, naturally grown produce. This will reduce the need to transport some of the food used by the hotel. We are also using the waste food, grass clipping, leaf mould and use coffee grinds to make compost thus giving back the soil that feeds us. We have already seen an increase in the amount of bees in the Kitchen Gardens. As well as fruit and vegetables, we have incorporated many flowering perennials; these have been planted in drifts of colour making the flowers more visible to the bees.'