This is the World Organic News for the week ending the 15th of April 2019.
Jon Moore reporting!
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
We start this week with a look at an organic farm in Tipperary. Five acres of production set in 13.5. Now I think we can all agree this is sufficient, with the right soil, water and mindset to produce a good income. The rule of thumb seems to be: the smaller the block the more likely the income will be derived from plants. I understand there are 10,000 acre wheat farms but as a rule with smaller places up to say 50 acres, I think this rule holds.
So the piece is entitled: Growing an organic vegetable enterprise on 5ac and comes from the site Agriland.
Having grown up on a hilly farm near Keeper Hill, close to Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Liam Ryan always had a passion for good food and is now growing an array of organic produce on just 5ac.
While he initially studied contemporary media practice in London as he was interested in making documentaries, he ended up being drawn back into the story for his love of quality food.
That journey brought Liam and his Japanese wife Yuki Kobayashi to a total of 13.5ac at Moyleabbey near the historic Quaker village of Ballitore, Co. Kildare.
“I met Yuki in a London restaurant at a birthday party. We shared food. It’s always about food. We lived in England for 13 years. The last two years of my time there I did a two-year apprenticeship in organic farming in east Sussex,” said Liam.
“We then decided to move back to Ireland together for simplicity – less travelling – we only had to travel to Japan then and not Ireland too. Yuki came to work in Dublin and I came back to try to get a start in growing here.
“I worked for a year at the organic farm in the Dominican Convent in Wicklow, and then I went to set up my own place in Ballitore,” he said.
This quote is instructive. Liam grew up on a farm and went off to study media. There are many pathways to gardening, market gardening and/or the smallholding. Gardening and market gardening, even the organic versions tend not to integrate animals as the smallholding does. The journey for Liam though was through another producer to learn the methodology. The point I’m making, in a very roundabout way even for me, is that any background is suitable for individuals who want to produce food. We all eat so we have our likes and dislikes. Growing from these to other things is a good way to start.
I remember way back in the dim dark days of the early 1970s growing wheat from my neighbours chook food in about one square metre because I loved bread. It didn’t work and I had an understanding crop failures but not the hunger they could cause. The point is you are more likely to be successful with foods you love than things you think will create an income, at least until you have some experience.
Again from the piece:
All the produce is grown in a 5ac field. “What we are not actively growing on is kept in green manure ley and we rotate our crops.
“At the moment we are growing leeks; purple sprouting broccoli; spinach; garlic; scallions; mixed salad leaves; and kale. But so much more will be coming in the summer. We are particularly well known for our delicious strawberries.”
They sell at their home farm shop every Friday from 12:00pm to 7:00pm and every Saturday at Carlow Farmers’ Market from 9:00am to 2:00pm. They also sell a small amount of wholesale to other growers but this has reduced as direct sales have flourished.
This is also a clue for beginners and for those of us into the process for a number of years. For beginners, start small, for the more long in the tooth, remember why we started and that diversifying our end markets is a thing that will need to happen as our consumers change over time.
The other thing that occurs on this farm is the WWOOFing.
“It’s a great opportunity for people who want to become growers themselves to earn and learn. We work with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) volunteers throughout the year and currently have two WWOOF volunteers from France working with us.
“We provide accommodation, food and education in organic farming and living. In return, WWOOFers help us by working on the farm, as a hands-on way of learning and experiencing life as a farmer.
“We like to enjoy good quality food together and very much enjoy the social side of eating together and sharing different cultural experiences.”
Now I have issues with some of the WWOOFing setups and their near slave labour approach. I’ve WWOOFed myself and it was a very agreeable process. I’m not sure what the setup is at Moyleabbey and I have no reason to suspect they are anything but great hosts. If you are going to follow this path to learning, be careful. The general rule of thumb is four to five hours work a day, two days off a week, all found and keep.
Where we were was little different but four hours was still a thing and I enjoyed it even if it wasn’t how I’d garden. Live and learn. We were housed in and were running an hostel. It was the slower end of the year so not to arduous but great for meeting new people. If you want a great experience, read the reviews before you commit. Some people expect eight and half hour days, six days a week which isn’t in the general WWOOFing terms and conditions so know what you’re up for.
Our next piece: Cheap Renewables Shave $10 Trillion off the cost of mitigation! from Bloomberg is from a hard nosed economic journal of record. That might tell you something when renewable costs (think price signals) are part of the dominant culture not the just the hippy fringe.
The cost of reaching global climate goals is falling rapidly as wind and solar prices plummet and policy makers push electrification as the main tool to cut pollution, the International Renewable Energy Agency said.
The group known as Irena revised down its estimates for global investments needed by 2050 in clean energy to meet targets under the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Abu Dhabi-based group now says $115 trillion is needed, down from $125 trillion a year ago, reflecting lower costs to build wind and solar farms.
As I’ve stated previously, price signals are great ways to get people moving. Less expensive solar panels has them sprouting on roofs across the globe. This particular piece points to the overall cost of decarbonising the air. From what I understand, they do not calculate the cost savings to this figure from recarbonising the soil. Too often the world is focused on just half the problem. We have a federal election here in May. A quick look at the climate change policies on offer all refer to decarbonising the air. It really is disappointing but the work goes on.
And on that note I’ll draw this episode to a conclusion.
Remember: Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
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Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next week.
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5 Organic Acres in Tipp.
Cheap Renewables Shave $10 Trillion of the cost of mitigation!