Jenny McNally, her husband Patrick, and their five children - Aoife, Niamh, Sarah, and twins Stephen and Patrick - work together at McNally Family Farm in Balrickard in North County Dublin. Their farm shop offers online ordering and contactless collection.
Did you grow up in a family where food was important?
My family on both sides have been farmers for generations. My father and his brothers came over to Ireland from Belgium in the 1950s; my Hemeryck cousins still farm in Lucan and my father has a farm in Newbarn, where I grew up. My parents raised pigs and grew cereal crops and potatoes. They grew cabbage one year but the supermarket wouldn't take it and they had to plough it back into the ground. After that they didn't grow vegetables any more.
What's your most vivid food memory from childhood?
My mum had a vegetable garden and grew the things that she was used to from Belgium - French beans, spinach, different kinds of lettuce. I remember her sending me and my brother out to pick peas and baby potatoes and we'd have to pod the peas and wash the potatoes for dinner. It was a way of keeping us occupied.
What was the first thing you learned to cook?
Around 12 or 13 I made Golden Syrup Upside Down Pudding from Maura Laverty's book Full and Plenty, but with jam instead of golden syrup. It was the tastiest thing going and my children still make it now.
Did you always know that you wanted to work in food?
After I left school, I went to secretarial college and worked in a bank for 10 years, from 1979 to 1988; it was the most draining experience of my life - there were times when I thought I might never escape. I was a legal secretary and did copy typing all day, and then in the evening I'd go home and pick potatoes. I lived for Macra na Feirme at the weekends. It came to an end when I got married and had Aoife. At first, my mother-in-law used to mind her, but she hurt her shoulder and so I had to give up work. That's when I started growing a few vegetables for the house and gradually expanded. At first I brought them to a big distributor but the supermarkets wanted the French beans and mangetouts topped and tailed like the ones from Kenya. When Temple Bar market opened in 1997, we could do our own thing - the business has blossomed ever since. We've never used sprays or chemical fertilisers, and have been officially organic since 2000.
Who has been the biggest influence on the way that you cook?
My mother was a very good cook. My favourite dish of hers was witloof (forced chicory, or endive) wrapped in ham, with a cheese sauce.
What's your signature dish?
A Sunday roast with potatoes and lots of vegetables. We take it in turns to cook at home, so we each cook once a week. Sarah's is the fanciest, and it's always vegetarian. My son Patrick is a great cook, too.
Is there any ingredient that you hate? With vegetables, you have to learn to love them all because you are growing them and selling them, but I wouldn't be the biggest fan of swedes and turnips. I don't like chocolate desserts, either; I'd always prefer something fruit-based, maybe rhubarb and custard.
Is there anything that you won't/don't eat for ethical reasons?
I won't eat avocados because of the amount of water it takes to cultivate them, and I don't eat fruit or vegetables out of season.
What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?
Frogs' legs in Belgium. It felt wrong. We need frogs!
What kitchen gadget could you not live without and what's the most overrated?
The kettle. I don't have much time for gadgets.
What current cooking trend do you dislike the most?
I don't like charred vegetables. It makes me think, 'Why did you burn it?'
What's your desert island cookbook?
It would have to be something by Nigella or Darina, I find them both so approachable. I particularly like Darina's Grow, Cook, Nourish.
What three things do you always keep in your fridge?
Butter, milk, cheese.
What's your go-to store-cupboard meal?
Pasta with a sauce of tinned tomatoes and whatever vegetables I have to hand.
What was the last great meal that you ate?
We had a wonderful dinner at Cathal Leonard's Potager in Skerries; I like Forest Avenue, too.
What chef do you admire the most?
We are lucky enough to have Keith Coleman and his fiancée, Aisling McHugh, working with us on the farm and in the shop these days. He can turn his hand to anything. He makes lunch for us every Tuesday, last week it was flaky pastry with wild venison, potato and swede - so delicious. Hopefully he'll be able to do his Roots pop-ups at the farm again.
Do you eat breakfast?
I have coffee and a slice of toast with whatever cheese or ham is knocking around.
What are you going to have for dinner tonight?
Broughgammon goat meat and rose veal burgers from the freezer - they are really tasty. My son Patrick is making buns to go with them.
And what will you drink with that?
Water. There are hens to be put away after.
What do you think the impact of Covid-19 will be on food in Ireland?
I hope some good will come out of all this, that people become more aware of how reliant we are as an island on imported fruit and vegetables and that more Irish farmers start growing them.