Posts Tagged ‘Áine Neville’

KEY TO A HOT COB OVEN IS WELL SEASONED WOOD – 3rd wk in July 2014

Initially the cob oven is a damp structure just like a wet cement structure. After ten days of summer weather, (the warmer and windier the better,) it is time to scoop out the damp sand which gives the final cob oven its shape.

To speed up the natural drying process (as we needed to do!) small fires can be lit on the fire bricks for short periods to gradually dry the inside of the oven. This we did three times a day for a few days until we prepared dough and pizza toppings – and assembled a pizza making team of teenage nephews!

Voila - Conor Neville prepares to serve the first pizza from the new cob oven to be shared with the brothers Adam and Brian, while Áine checks on the seasoning wood supplies.

Voila – Conor Neville prepares to serve the first pizza from the new cob oven to be shared with the brothers Adam and Brian, while Áine checks on the seasoning wood supplies.

DUNCAN STEWART INSPIRES COMMUNITIES TO BECOME MORE SELF-RELIANT – 1st wk in May 2014

The broadcaster, architect and campaigner for a sustainable future, Duncan Stewart, ‘gets it’ when it comes to understanding how precarious our global food supply system has become. Food supply is, in effect, floating on a sea of fossil fuels. The non-organic fertilizers and the armoury of weed killers and pesticides are oil-based, likewise the machinery, processing, packaging, transportation, storage, etc. If oil is too dear, food will be too dear, if it will be available at all. It may never happen, you may say. Well, it did happen – in Cuba. Russian oil supplies ceased when the USSR collapsed – and the people of Cuba went hungry. Fortunately, they had good organic agriculture researchers in their universities who could retrain chemically based farmers and many new farmers to grow food without oil.

Recently, Áine and myself met Duncan Stewart who was campaigning for Green candidate, Grace O’Sullivan, in the Ireland South EU Constituency. Duncan spoke passionately with many facts at his disposal about the urgency of developing local food economies in Ireland. Ireland has 10 times more beef than its people can eat, likewise Ireland produces huge amounts of dairy goods. However, the amount of fruit and vegetables (which could be grown in Ireland) and which is now imported every day, points to the need for more horticultural production and more horticultural producers. At present many producers are getting out of horticulture.

Áine and myself, inspired by Duncan, are liaising with other organic producers in South Wexford, in the hope we can put a food co-op together to make sure continuity of food supply for the present and especially for the future when oil will no longer be a part of the food chain.

Organic horticulturalist, Áine Neville discussing the prospect of  setting up an organic local food producing co-op in South Wexford with eco-change maker, Duncan Stewart.

Organic horticulturalist, Áine Neville discussing the prospect of setting up an organic local food producing co-op in South Wexford with eco-change maker, Duncan Stewart.

 

DUNCAN STEWART PRESENTS CERTS TO ORGANIC COLLEGE GRADUATES – 2nd wk in March 2014

All that hard work studying the theory and practise of organic growing culminated in a great evening of celebration at An tIonad Glas, the Organic College in Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick on Friday 7th March 2014. Comhghairdeas to all the graduates, not least to the one and only Áine Neville who managed to do the two year diploma course in just one year.  Impressive or what! Thanks to all at An tIonad Glas, Principal, Jim McNamara, Dr Sinead Neiland and the Director of Distance Learning and Course Tutor, Paula Pender, especially.

Guest of honour, Duncan Stewart, , inspired his audience, as he does so often on television, to become the change humanity needs to see take place. He passionately told the full hall that the vulnerability of our globalised food production system is creaking due to its almost total dependence of fossil fuels. Even once self-sufficient villages are now less than 1% self-reliant on food produced it their own locality. An tIonad Glas is, bit by bit, creating more resilient local food growing enterprises.

Here in Tacumshin, Co. Wexford, Áine is now making full use of the hard graft which earned her

Organic Growing and Sustainable Living diploma graduate, Áine Neville and guest of honour, Duncan Stewart of 'Eco-Eye' (RTÉ) at An tIonad Glas, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, 7 March 2014.

Organic Growing and Sustainable Living diploma graduate, Áine Neville and guest of honour, Duncan Stewart of ‘Eco-Eye’ (RTÉ) at An tIonad Glas, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, 7 March 2014.

that very practical diploma in organic horticulture. On our 3 acre holding, we are breaking new ground, cultivating what was for many years rough pasture and teaming up with other organic growers in the south east. In due course, Duncan’s vision of year round self-reliance in healthy local food will, le cúnamh Dé, become a reality region by region.

WHERE STANDS DEBATE ON BEST SOIL COVERING BEFORE SPRING SOWING? – 3rd wk in Jan 2013

No shortage of rain at present. To prevent leaching of fertility from the soil, the ground is better covered either with a crop or a sheet of something – but what? Everyone I meet seems to have an opinion on this so take your pick.

Clear plastic: Gaining support because it is multifunctional. The soil warms when the sun is out and the light helps germinate weed seed. When plastic is removed to prepare a veg seed bed, the weed seedlings can firstly be hoed away and left on the surface to wither while the soil hopefully dries out a bit.

Black plastic: Still favoured as the soil is easy to work when the plastic is removed, but the BBC Radio 4 ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ panel tell us the soil is warmed better with clear than black plastic. The slugs gather under the black plastic, but they were in the soil anyway, so just pick them off when removing the plastic to prepare for sowing.

Cardboard: The Sonairte Organic Walled Garden (2 acres) at Laytown, Co. Meath, is currently looking for cardboard boxes to flatten and use as covering on the veg and fruit patches. Good way of using a biodegradeable ‘waste product’. Encourages good worm activity especially if a layer of compost is spread on the soil before the cardboard covering is applied. In Sonairte, we put grass clippings on top of the cardboard coverings which takes the ‘cardboard city’ look off the garden! www.sonairte.ie.

Carpet: I use off cuts of old carpet. Arthur my cat enjoys lying on them, but carpet prevents the sun’s heat getting to the soil. Hence in February, I will remove the carpet to begin preparing the beds for sowing and planting in late spring. Carpet works better for covering over a compost layer on the soil in the autumn and winter to retain heat and encourage soil life activity. The compost heap also needs covering to keep in the heat it is generating. Carpet is my preferred choice for covering a compost heap.

Jane Moore, head gardener at Bath Priory Hotel looking for more carpet to cover her compost heaps in the rain with Áine Neville of www.giyireland.com.

Jane Moore, head gardener at Bath Priory Hotel looking for more carpet to cover her compost heaps in the rain with Áine Neville of http://www.giyireland.com.

Fleece: I was very impressed with how Dermot Carey, the renowned organic horticulturalist uses thin white fleeces in Harry’s Restaurant organic walled garden in Inishowen, Co. Donegal. Unlike the above mulch matrials, fleece mainly works best AFTER planting has taken place, keeping the soil warmer than un-fleeced areas nearby. The difference in comparable plant growth was amazing.

The garden centres offer all manner of membranes to mulch patches big and small. If you have the disposable income, you’d be welcomed with open arms at any garden centre, no doubt. However, the above low-cost or no-cost options serve me fine.