My treat for my birthday was a day out . A trip to the ‘garden county’ on a scorcher of a day that was the 27th of July was memorable, enjoyable and very interesting. Mark Winterbottom and Alan Pierce the farming partners hosted the large crowd at their rented holding called Gold River Farm Ltd at Balleshall, just outside Aughrim, Co. Wicklow. The dry warm day reinforced the importance of the irrigation measures including large water tanks close to the crops and tractor mounted water dispensers.

The farm has diversified further still from a huge range of vegetables, fruit and herbs to rear pigs organically. They now have 400 pigs. Their production rates at 11 – 14 piglets per sow twice a year, are very impressive and just as good as the best industrial pig breeding units. These organic pigs are much in demand and the order books are healthy just like the pigs.

Polytunnels are a big part of the farm also. We saw the  five and a half tonne cherry tomato crop in full production. The cherry varieties were proving more blight resistant than the beef tomato varieties. After the tomato harvest, the tunnels are cleared out for a crop of baby leaf salad and then cucumber and basil. The pepper crop had been a disappointment. This being an innovative farm with a keen eye on market demand, it is a credit to the guys that they take the chance to expand their range when they see a market opportunity. As they say, you win some, you lose some.

Coriander and parsley were growing outside which was impressive. However this was a warm south facing slope of a holding, reminiscent of the vinyards of Lombardy (or so I am told!).

Weed control was a difficult challenge, especially with alliums where the crop does not have a canopy of leaves and so never excludes light from surrounding soil. A flame weeder is used from time to time. However grasses are difficult to control with this device it seems.

Stephen Alexander from Teagasc in Kinsealy was there to make a presentation and do a demonstration on vegetable pests and diseases. I am told to go ahead and compost the rust affected leaves of the garlic as it is a wind borne disease. Only keep soil borne diseases like white rot and club root out of the compost and soil.

Alan and Mark were lucky to have the expert chefs like Evan Doyle of Brooklodge Hotel and Spa nearby on hand to lay on a great feast. One of the pigs made the ultimate sacrifice for the occasion! Between weather, the farm and the hospitality, everyone visiting went off to the four provinces well satisfied with the day. Thanks to the organic bodies Organic Trust and IOFGA, and Teagasc Advisors James Mc Donnell and Elaine Leavy and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for all the work before and on the day. What a crowd! What a farm! What a day!

PS  Take a look at the organic bodies or Teagasc websites for more details of other organic farm walks.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alan Pierce on August 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Hey Trevor,
    Many thanks for the nice comments about our farm. Glad you enjoyed the day, that was a birthday with a difference. I’m comforted by the fact that I am not the only one who has a ‘busmans’ holiday. My wife and I went to France last year and spent most of my time stopping every few miles of the road to see how the French crops were doing or talking to a local farmer, much to the dismay of my wife. Going back again this September, have promised to be good…..promised undevided attention…. !

    With Kind Regards



    • Thanks Alan,
      I admire your eagle eye to pick up on my blog entry. Continued success at Gold River. Ye are an inspiration to me and to many others. Happy holidaying in France – very romantic! Regards to Mark and all there.


  2. Thanks , I have just been searching for information about this subject for ages and yours is the best I have came upon till now. However, what about the conclusion? Are you sure in regards to the supply?


  3. Posted by Trevor Sargent on March 7, 2013 at 1:10 am

    Thanks for the encouragement,

    Happy growing,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: