Hello - you're very welcome to my blog!
This is where I share my experience of growing organic food, as well as wildlife-friendly gardening to attract bees, beneficial insects, butterflies and birds to your garden - helping to preserve the precious biodiversity which is increasingly endangered by industrial chemical farming and loss of habitat. You will also find occasional tips here for small scale poultry keeping. I've been gardening organically in Ireland for 41 years now, in all types and sizes of gardens - and even for a couple of those years growing just in containers, when I didn't have a garden. I've been a small-scale organic sheep and poultry farmer, and also a certified organic commercial vegetable grower - starting Dublin's very first organic box scheme in the early 1980's. Over the years, I've invented some useful, innovative and practical tips for time, labour and money-saving ways of producing healthy 'real food' with the minimum of effort while recycling as much as possible and avoiding food waste. Here I share these original ideas, thoughts and experiences of living life as organically as possible - but also as realistically possible - in today's often chemical-laden world. I take into account that we can't all do the idealistic 'self-sufficiency on 5 acres' thing, that many people are less able (as indeed I am now myself), may perhaps have very small gardens or may even have no garden at all.
I believe in not just preaching, or 'talking the talk' - but in showing you simple and practical ways to help you 'walk the walk' - as I have done for over 40 years.
I also share news here on shopping for organic food, with step by step recipes for cooking it - using my own, well tested, easy, healthy and budget-friendly recipes. These recipes have evolved over many years of cooking for my family, at the same time as coping with a very busy life as an artist, a director of IOFGA - the Irish Organic Farmers & Growers Association and then later as co-founder of The Organic Trust. I've been keenly aware of the importance gut health since my daughter was born with life-threatening allergies over 40 years ago. As a result, I have been cultivating kefir for almost 40 years and was, to my knowledge, one of the first people in Ireland to do so. I share my recipes for making the wonderful probiotic kefir, kefir curd cheese and the latest research on it in the recipe section of my blog.
I call my philosophy "Down to earth, realistic organic living, without the hair shirt, hassle or expense"! Organic food isn't about wearing hair shirts and neither is it a just fashionable 'lifestyle choice' - as an often pro-chemical media would have us believe! It's about growing and eating the very best, purest, most humanely-produced and most traceable food possible, which is the kind of food that Nature evolved us to eat! Certified organic is about having the reassurance of knowing exactly where your food comes from - and also knowing that it's produced in a way that protects Nature and the precious soil that sustains all life on this planet.
As we go about our busy lives in this hectic world, it's easy to feel powerless, frustrated and let down by the politicians and multi-national corporations who make decisions based on their own commercial interests. They seem to care little for us, or such issues as how to feed an increasing global population in a healthy and sustainable way - taking into account increasing climate change, energy use and carbon emissions. Corporate interests don't seem to care about increasing pollution, loss of biodiversity and degradation of soils. These and the other related problems seem to be a grim reality that few politicians have the courage to face. They talk much - but do little. Most seem to think only as far ahead as the next election and often seem to actually care more about the future of those large multi-national corporations, than they do about the future of our beautiful planet and of our children.
It's very easy to feel that there's nothing we can personally do to make any difference - but there is! Something we can each do is to make a statement by the way that we live now and by the choices that we make in our everyday lives as consumers - even if it's just something as seemingly simple as what to have for supper! If we choose a loaf of bread or a carton of milk that is produced in the only truly sustainable way - by organic farming - then that isn't just supporting our own health and that of biodiversity but it is ultimately a political statement. If enough people make that statement - food retailers have to take notice and begin to change. They ultimately then influence governments.
Gardening organically, avoiding toxic chemicals that harm Nature and without using peat products that destroy precious biodiversity, is very positive and satisfying. It brings abundant rewards for both our physical and mental health and also gives a real sense of being an integral part of the greater scheme of things. It makes a real and genuine contribution to preserving biodiversity, combating pollution, reversing soil carbon-loss and mitigating climate change. It can also make a very big difference to your household budget, no matter how small your plot!
Each of our gardens may only be one tiny piece of a huge jigsaw, but together such organic gardens all over the world can make a real difference to the bigger picture. Even if you don't have a garden - simply by buying organic food, you'll be helping to make that difference to this beautiful and irreplaceable planet as well.
Here's a verse I love - that I often pause and reflect on in our current troubled times. It says it all for me:
Let fortune's bubbles rise and fall;
who sows a field, or trains a flower,
Or plants a tree, is more than all."
(J. G. Whittier - who must surely have been an organic gardener!)
"I don't think I've ever seen a polytunnel quite as beautiful as Nicky Kyle's - it's almost like Narnia." (Fionnuala Fallon - Irish Times - 18.11.10)