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Wednesday 20 June 2018

Indy Power meets a producer of one of our favourite summer foods

Indy Power

The next stop on my SEAT road trip was Danescastle Fruit Farm in Co. Wexford. It wasn’t until I was on the road, that I realised I was headed straight for Wellingtonbridge, where I spent many of my weekends as a kid.

Fifteen plus years and it was still as I remembered it, and being there still prompted a craving for one thing: strawberries.

Pulling into the farm I was astonished by the scale of the operation. Even more so when  Margaret Mernagh, the owner, led me into one of their greenhouses and explained how they had over 200,000 plants in this room alone. The beautiful, warm greenhouse was buzzing with helpful bees (who pollinate the strawberries) and glowing with glistening red gems as far as the eye could see.

Margaret and I walked up and down the rows of strawberries and she expertly taught me how to pick a strawberry like a pro. Her precision and speed, I couldn’t quite match, but I definitely did pick up a new skill- picking a strawberry without touching it’s delicate flesh. She explained the rigorous and strict rules that supermarkets demand in terms of shape, colour and size and I couldn’t help but feel very sad for the wonky strawberries that don’t make the cut. After offering, seriously, to give them all a home in my kitchen (who else would happily buy quirky shaped strawberries?) we started filling our punnets, and snacking of course.

Margaret taught me about the growth cycle of strawberries, the different species and  just what goes into growing the perfect Wexford strawberries that we all love. While we were there, some regulars popped in to buy some of the larger trays that are set aside for locals. If I wasn’t holding a huge punnet myself I might have been jealous but then Margaret explained that the strawberries picked today would be in my local supermarket tomorrow morning- a great soundbite for any advocates of buying local vs produce shipped or flown in from far away.

After a quick tour of the gorgeous raspberry plants that they also grow there, I put my overflowing punnet in the passenger seat beside me and headed back to Dublin. I had ambitious plans for some strawberry jam and maybe a raspberry crumble, but as suspected, most were too delicious to survive the journey home.

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