Producing the tastiest food depends on the freshest ingredients at their absolute peak. We have been growing an increasing amount of our own produce since 2006 and it’s an amazing enhancement to the creation of new dishes and our wedding, event and corporate catering.
Now we haven’t the machinery to be self-sufficient in spuds and onions (and indeed can buy these locally) so we grow an array of salad leaves, all kinds of soft and hardy herbs, edible flowers, rhubarb, soft fruit, and have an orchard yielding apples, plums and pears.
We have learned a lot over the years by our mistakes, but we now know what the tastiest varieties of salad leaves are; that small, sweet cherry tomatoes ripen better than large ones, all-female varieties of cucumbers always have a wonderful flavour, the birds will always try to race us to the ripening fruit and that you can never really depend on the Irish weather!
We also know that blueberries and garlic are easy to grow and that blackcurrants are wasted on jam when you can use them to make amazing richly flavoured liqueur.
We continually experiment to find new varieties of produce with amazing flavour that will grow well in our climate such as oyster leaf.
“Eating is an agricultural act”
We do grow our food using organic principles. This includes not spraying our fruit trees or any of our crops with chemical pesticides or using artificial fertiliser; on site composting of garden waste, veg waste, egg shells, coffee grounds and tea leaves; use of homemade compost, seaweed fertiliser and comfrey and concentrating on soil health for great crops.
Companion planting, crop rotation and biodiversity keep the pests to a minimum.
In 2019/2020 we planted around 250 trees, mostly native woodland varieties dotted through with cobnuts, quinces, medlars and mulberries and we’re very excited to see this develop.
Simon and Andrew Dougan both keep bee hives at their own homes. Although they claim to do the actual work, the apiaries are managed by the much more patient Mrs Dougans.
The raw honey produced is sold exclusively in our own delis and in seasonal hampers.
Recognising that the next generation are vital to the sustainability of our food and drink heritage, we are very proud to have sponsored ‘Sow, Grow, Munch’ which is an initiative to encourage school children to grow from seed, cultivate, cook and eat our fabulous local produce. Download here