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Promoting Local – LoveFresh

Are you a local egg supplier in Ballyboughal ? Maybe a parsley grower in Tubbercurry ? Maybe you are are an ethical traveller and looking to eat the most local produce possible ? What if you did and found a cheese producer in Bandon and simply wanted to tell the whole world about them ?

One of the hardest things, even for me living in farmland county nowhere is finding the most locally sourced produce. The fact that it maybe organic or homegrown is [and so it should be] to your preference, but what if you wanted to globally make a difference ?

Someone it seems just has. What if I told you that via technology local could become international….?

Personally, I really enjoyed listening to Mark Spofforth and the story of Lovefresh

Call it what you may – but once again this is the individual doing something for the greater good and promoting what is local rather than what is greater for a promotional body. It is more than that putting the small guy, the local guy live on the map for the entire world to see and that has to be a good thing.

What do you think….?

Contact Mark and his friends at Lovefresh

  • Lovefresh on the web
  • Via Twitter @lovefreshHQ or Mark @MarkSpoff
  • email: mark@lovefre.sh
  • telpehone: [0044] 0207 617 7183

I like this bit for producers….

Producers – we connect you with your community!

Lovefre.sh bridges the gap between producer and community by providing producers with some simple, social tools. We will soon be rolling out our Producer specific features;

– ‘Claim’ your location and provide contact details and opening times, which are then viewable in the app. As people travel near you, they will be advised of your location and can contact you with a click.

– ‘Blip’ ‘What’s Fresh’ on a daily basis, to anyone who is local to you.

– ‘Menu’ allows you to maintain a simple 10 item list of what’s good, fresh and in stock.

– ‘Profile’ lets producers curate their favourite photo’s, audio and comments about their business. From within the app. A superbly easy way for you to establish a web presence, with a few clicks.

We want to encourage you to interact with your community. Our goal is to make that very easy for you to do.

We hope you’ll get in touch with us so we can get you involved in Lovefre.sh and help your business thrive. Contact us here, or e-mail beta@lovefre.sh so we can set you up as a Producer Beta Tester – which will give you early access to all features, as we roll them out.

Give us a call if you’d like to chat more.

Best,

Mark

Mountjoy Square Park

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According to the Dublin City Council’s website:

Located in the centre of Mountjoy Square, once Dublin’s premier Georgian area, and comprising 1.8 hectares, this park was originally created by the Developer of the Square, Luke Gardiner, Lord Mountjoy around 1800, as part of his grand concept which envisaged the great sweep of Gardiner Street down to the Custom House.

While the Square was upgraded in the late 1980’s, its full potential as a Georgian Park must await the relocation of the existing all-weather sports area currently under active consideration by the City Council.

Funny thing is, I don’t know where the pitch or the people who use it would/ could go if the all weather pitch was relocated, that is assuming the park is for the people. That said, I would also like to see it returned to its original concept. But then that’s all very good for me to say. Either or I like the park, although there are bits of it I simply just didn’t get. That said I was happy to be there and enjoyed my stroll. Sincerely.

I didn’t like the fact that the gates weren’t open on all sides and the Dublin Bikes Scheme stand was empty. The pottery around some of the trees baffled me but then that was balanced by some new planting and what appears to be a corner of the park for leaf mulch. The play ground was being used when I was there. The more junior nippers were in one area whilst the not so juniors were in the one next to it. The people were friendly and as tourists watched with maps from outside one Mom explained to me how the electronic dance game worked with a quick Mother Daughter demonstration.

I liked the rambling paths. The sculpt in the middle made me walk up to it… but I’ve no idea what it represents. Sometimes it’s better that way. I liked the piles of raked leaves and wanted to kick them everywhere…. the trees were all pruned and crown raised above head height so one could see everywhere from anywhere in the park. I saw wallflowers freshly planted and the hedges nicely cut screened the football area.

The park does need some extra added attention in no specific area and it seems, at this moment there’s a bit of everything there, which is good, but aesthetically it doesn’t do it justice. That said, I’d be quite proud to have this park on my doorstep.

Wikipedia gives some really interesting facts on Mountjoy Square

Mountjoy Square (Irish: Cearnóg Mhuinseo), one of five Georgian squares in Dublin, Ireland, lies on the north side of the city just under a kilometre from the River Liffey. Planned and developed in the late 18th century by the second Luke Gardiner, then Viscount Mountjoy, the square is surrounded on all sides by individual terraced, red-brick Georgian houses. Construction began in the early 1790s and the work was completed in 1818

Mountjoy can boast being Dublin’s only true Georgian square, each of its sides being exactly 140 metres in length. While the North, East and West sides each have 18 houses, the South has 19, reflecting some variation in plot sizes. Though each side was originally numbered individually, the houses are now numbered continuously clockwise from no. 1 in the north-west corner. While its North and South sides are continuous from corner to corner, the East and West sides are in three terraces, interrupted by two side streets, Grenville Street and Gardiner Place to the West and Fitzgibbon and North Great Charles Street to the East. Gardiner Street passes through the West side of the square, while Belvidere Place and Gardiner Lane run off the North- and South-East corners.

Although some of the original buildings fell to ruin over the 20th century, replicas have been built in their place, so the square still maintains its consistent Georgian façade.

View more images of Mountjoy Square Park

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Biodiversity

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biodiversity n the existance of a wide variety of plant and animal species in their natural environments

source: collins english dictionary [paperback edition]

Wikipedia goes a little more indept. I like the second sentence.

Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is one measure of the health of ecosystems.

To me and you what does it really mean…?

Some I know, have a rough idea that it’s a good green and in fashion buzz word to be aware of. But when quizzed on what, how or even further, what they can do as their little bit…. they honestly didn’t know. Doesn’t surprise me. Even I didn’t realise how biodiverse I already was.

The definitions are above…. but scroll down to the 10 things [below] you can do and you’ll really get a flavour for what it means and moreso what we as individuals can so simply do in any outdoors and in any season to help [y]our ecosystem.

What amazed me from feedback prior to writing this post and in reading up on that information given to me was the amount of Irish sites that either assume everyone understands what this is all about. Here’s the latest email….

Aparently butterfly numbers are up, or down Pete. I can’t remember. But I have no idea how they count them. I’ve less of an idea of what biodiversity is and how butterfly counting helps, or not!!

Sounds silly ? To some, maybe. But I can’t disagree with that. It is the reason I wrote this post and from here – with this as a basic basis post I can try and now delve a little deeper into the bigger picture.

Either or here’s the for starters post. Any questions or thoughts, just leave a comment below.

  • Plant a native tree this year – I did a list of Irelands native trees some time ago. The poll will tell you the most popular.
  • Put up a bird box – You can buy them but I perfer to make my own. How to put up and make your own bird box
  • Harvest rain water – This is really easy and you can buy them from most local councils with your bin tags and claim the tax back. Install a rainwater harvester
  • Water lawns and plants at night time that is, only if you really, really have to. Simple as it sounds. No link needed here. 

  • Allow some of your lawn or garden to grow wild– this is a great excuse for not cutting that part of the garden you don’t want to.
  • Make your own compost binI’m not a great fan of the plastic ones personally and I decided to build mine from some leftover timber.
  • Avoid using chemicals in your garden – once again, it’s a time and a money saver. Brilliant excuse for everything to look au natural
  • Build a log pile – it is as easy as it sounds. I simply stacked some dead branches that I pruned in a pile and forgot about them…. well, y’know what I mean
  • Grow a wildlife hedge – they’ll be back in fashion soon enough. Insects and wildlife can’t live on just vegetables and fruit….
  • Avoid petrol or electrical garden equipment – instead rake the leaves and use the old push mowers. Even better, you conserve your energy and get himself to do it

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Beautiful Cow Competition

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Saturday 10th July saw the North Dublin Dairy show 2010 get under way. The highlight is of course, what can only be described as the beautiful cow competition.

I met with 22 year old farmer Michael Connell Jnr to find out more.

Earlier, I had met Jim Scully, secretary of The Dublin Milk Producers. Listening to him and Michael, I realise dairy farming in this country has a serious message and is in serious trouble.

This day however, was one for congratulations, trophies and rosettes, It was also a day for meeting and greeting young and old who ensure that somehow or udder [ 😉 ] milk ends up on our tables.

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Take a look at the just how serious the judging business of prize cows really is. Like Michael said, it can add value. Consider also that one gentleman told me that he had recently paid over €2000 for a 3 week old baby cow. Father Ted you say ? 😉

Cows aside, because of the people I met, it really was an amazing day. One that I was honoured to be invited to. Thank you so much to the Dublin Milk Producers and 3 generations of The Connell Family for being such fine hosts. Also to Jim Scully and Michael Jnr for taking the time to talk to me.

View More Images of The North Dublin Dairy Show 2010

Irish Times 31st May 2010

I got a call last week from Conor. He was doing this article on Grow Your Own and asked for some thoughts.

To the pieces I know that I have written that may refer to my quotes below.

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Grow your own kits cheaper than B and Q. I think it’s a logic alternate piece. There are many products I have reviewed that I purchased from b&q. This just happened to be one I thought was a bit not for me.

This is one post on which compost to buy. If of course one wishes to buy miracle grow compost, which comes with a feed in it, plant in your bedding plants – which have a feed in them and then purchase a liquid or granular feed…

The ultimate guide to chickens. There are hen houses out there that do cost more than others. But if I see one more person tell me that my hens know by instinct to not eat my lettuce, radishes and prize roses will eat weeds and that grow your own hens will save me money…. i’ll implode. €1500 plus is a lot of eggs.

And as a buy the way I also did a talk, quite recently, for one of GIY groups.

The pieces I point out above are just some. There are many others in there. You may have to search within the blog. My comments are in bold below but I do recommend you read the entire original Pricewatch article by Conor Pope.

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Pay Less For Your Greens

The Grow it Yourself movement means gardens everywhere are being taken over by fruit and veg – but growers take note – there’s no need to spend a fortune, writes CONOR POPE

IT IS A WARM sunny afternoon and Trevor Sargent, the former Green Party leader and recently resigned Minister of State with responsibility for Food, is covered in bees. Since he stepped down from his ministerial post in controversial circumstances earlier this year he has become an amateur bee-keeper and has proved so adept at managing his hive that the bees now need a second home.

He is in the process of relocating some of them when Pricewatch interrupts him to talk gardening.

Along with the bees, Sargent has a kitchen garden which has grown rapidly in the last two years. While it is hardly a surprise to learn of this ardent Green’s green fingers, the amount of fruit and vegetables he is cultivating on his small plot of land – no bigger than 7 by 13 metres – is quite remarkable.

This year he has potatoes, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, beets, chard, kale, cabbage, four types of beans, lettuces, radishes, apples, blackcurrants, plums and a cornucopia of other fruits and vegetables growing in his patch. It has even been floodlit and laid with concrete paths to allow him to garden day and night and in good weather and bad.

For Sargent the motivation is not about saving money but about “appreciating what goes into making the food that appears on our supermarket shelves and understanding the difficulties our growers face. I don’t know how I’d measure the financial cost of the hours I spend in the garden in the middle of the night but it is cheaper than a psychotherapist and keeps me sane. I find the weeding relaxing and something of a therapy after the frustrations of politics,” he says.

Sargent is part of a growing army of Grow It Yourself (GIY) advocates in Ireland and as the movement grows so does the amount of cash we spend on herb, fruit and vegetable plants. It has increased by 40 per cent over the last eight years. The estimated spend on such plants in the gardening year between April 2009 and March 2010 was around €14 million. Spending on sheds, glasshouses growing tunnels and the like increased by 38 per cent to €58 million from 2007 to 2010.

Not wanting to be left out, Pricewatch hopped on the bandwagon earlier this year and we planted our own potatoes in a barrel. In keeping with a long-standing Irish tradition, the planting took place on St Patrick’s Day. Incidentally, this tradition first took root because in the 19th century, the Catholic Church distrusted potatoes because there was no mention of them in the Bible and they grew underground so were obviously closer to the devil. Not wanting to incur the wrath of God or the priest, the peasants sowed their spuds on holy days and sprinkled them with holy water, for all the good it did.

Our seed potatoes cost less then a fiver, the bag in which they are growing cost the same, the compost was another tenner which takes the total cost of bringing our crop to table at around €20. We could, in fact, buy considerably more potatoes for that sum than we’re likely to get, but to look at it from a purely money-saving perspective is to miss the point, says radio and TV presenter and ardent grow your own enthusiast, Ella McSweeney.

“You’re not going to save money in the first year but if you set yourself up properly it is conceivable that you will ultimately cut your costs by growing your own vegetables,” she says. She cautions newbies like us against rushing out and buying all the gear needed to set up a full-scale kitchen garden on day one.

“The more you spend the higher your expectations and the more likely you are to feel like you have failed if things don’t go right from the start.”

She advises people to start with the easy things – lettuce, radishes – and points out that the key is to grow the things that you like eating. The other key is the soil. “If you get your soil right then everything will happen but if you get it wrong then it will be a lot of frustration.” She says people can source well-rotted manure from farms and stables for free or half nothing.

All might not be rosy in the GIY garden, however. Peter Donegan has a landscaping business in north Co Dublin and writes an engaging blog on all things gardening. While he is 100 per cent supportive of people who decide to grow their own vegetables, he expresses grave concern at the rampant commercialisation of the sector and wonders why many of the GIY advocates, those with the loudest voices, are not warning people against spending big money on fertilisers and kits which are entirely unnecessary and ridiculously overpriced.

He cites the example of a grow your own kit which sells in B&Q for €6.99. “For that you get three small pots, three handfuls of compost and a couple of seeds. Given the fact that a couple of handfuls of compost cost virtually nothing – five cent tops – and you can buy 1,000 seeds for no more than €4 and use jam jars as pots, the total cost of a DIY kit could be no more than 10 cent.”

Donegan points out that there are scores of companies trying to cash in on the grow your own movement by selling bags of supposedly enriched fertiliser at sky-high prices, chicken runs for €1,500 and glass houses for even more again.

“Gardening as I knew it when I was five years old was compost-less. It was a handful of muck, sieved and at the back of it all just good craic. But now there is so much claptrap paraphernalia out there now that people are being conned into buying and no-one seems to be shouting stop.”

While McSweeney agrees that we don’t need to be spending much on getting off the ground, she does look beyond the finances and says growing your own gives you “an enormous amount of respect for what you buy in the shops and it gives you a huge insight into what it takes to grow crops. You learn all the time and it is possibly the most satisfying thing of all.”

For his part, Sargent is critical of the “purist approach” supermarkets adopt to vegetables. “Their insistence on vegetables conforming to a standard size for example leads to a huge amount of waste.” He also bemoans the fact that a lot of the stuff cannot be bought from Irish growers in Irish shops. Only 15 per cent of the onions sold in Ireland are actually grown here so if you want to be sure of eating Irish onions your best bet is to grow them.

A lot of vegetables which can and are grown in Ireland never make it on to supermarket shelves because the big retailers and wholesalers prefer to deal with international suppliers who can guarantee a constant year-round flow of information so while scallions grow handily enough in Ireland, the big boys prefer to ship it in from Mexico where they are produced for a pittance by workers paid peanuts. “Wholesalers would have to shift their gaze to smaller Irish producers,” says Sargent. “But they seem reluctant to do that but it is what is going to have to happen at some point if we are ultimately to have food security.”

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