EVER THE OPTIMIST, THINKING OF SELLING SURPLUS GARDEN PRODUCE AT LOCAL FARMERS’ MARKET – FOURTH WEEK IN MARCH 2011

Summer time has officially begun and the evenings are brighter and herald more activity in the kitchen garden.
Thoughts turn to planting plans for the growing season ahead. However, even the best laid plans do not yield the exact amount of crops one might expect.

Some patches like my asparagus bed has just failed to perform. (I did follow the instructions, compost dug in first, horticultural sand added and well weeded, honest!) On the other hand, the runner beans come faster than I can eat or freeze them, and the ‘everlasting cabbage’, is bountious in its green, deliciously sweet foliage.

All this makes we think about the option of selling the odd surplus harvest in the local Balbriggan Fish and Farmers’ Market on a Friday morning. As it so happens, I have done a basic HSE approved Food Handling Course which all stallholders dealing with food are required to undertake. It cost me €50 and I can now display a certificate at the stall in the market.

Given that I am soon to become a fully fledged organic grower with the legal certification, I could sell my produce (duly labelled for traceability) alongside the Sonairte organic produce, which I am already selling each Friday on George’s Square in Balbriggan. I am happy for all the proceeds to go to Sonairte which is a registered charity anyway. My main concern is that good food does not go to waste and perhaps it might encourage others to grow more food at home too and make Ireland a bit more food secure.

For other kitchen gardeners thinking along the same lines, the main issue is to liase with the local Environmental Health Officer who can be contacted through the HSE. There is no real legal obstacle and the option for allotmenteers and kitchen gardeners to sell a surplus from their holding is provided for in the Code of Good Practise for Farmers’ Markets published by Bord Bia and welcomed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

When all is said and done, one of the main reasons for high levels of obesity is that Irish people eat too much salty and sugary foods and not enough fresh fruit and vegetables. So it makes good sense to welcome all manner of seasonal fresh local fruit and veg at any local market. I’ll let you know how I get on if and when I have some surplus produce later in the growing season.

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