On 5th July, indoor dining for cafes, restaurants and bars returns. Weddings can have up to 50 people, and family celebrations such as communions and baptisms are permitted once again. This is great news for Sligo farmers, who have continued to produce quality food for us during lockdown. Often having to get quite inventive with how to get their goods to us. As demand increases farmers can feel more secure that their produce will be bought and that they can reinvest in the next crop.
We visited some Sligo farms to get a feel for farming practices being used right now. Also, just to say a public thank you to the growers and producers and who have kept us fed. From organic veg, freshly laid eggs and Dexter Beef, Sligo farm to fork is back.
Dexter Cattle Farm
Henry Judge was one of the first Dexter farmers in Ireland and he happens to own the smallest cow in the world. She’s called Ella! We visited Henry’s farm to find out more about his history with Dexter Cows.
Henry told us that his love of Dexter Cows began way back in his childhood when a neighbour owned two of them. He used to watch the cows being milked and developed a soft spot for one of the oldest and smallest cattle breeds in Europe. Since those days, the popularity of the Dexter’s waned and they became very scarce, only to be found in Ireland in Belfast Zoo. In the 1990’s there was a grant made available to owners of rare breed cattle and Henry saw this as his chance to bring Dexters to his own farm.
With a current herd of about 14 pregnant cows the farm is slightly above average for a Dexter breeder. All of the cows are named and it’s obvious to see that they are very well cared for. The Judge’s farm practices are organic but they are currently uncertified due to some wild roaming sheep that are included in the farms hedage.
The cattle are bred for beef and are sold into the special breed meat market. The meat is tender, rich in various vitamins and Omega 3. Henry and his family have a fresh supply of milk for their own personal use. We were lucky enough to have a glass and devour a scone made with their buttermilk topped with homemade blackberry jam. All Made by Henry’s wife Margaret. Find out more about Dexters here Dextercattlesociety.ie
Possibly one of the newest small holdings in Sligo, Knocknarea Farm is a small mixed farm nestled at the foot of Knocknarea. The location is truly breathtaking. Seán and Rob started planting their first crop back in January 2021, but upon our visit to the farm, we could see the hard work and dedication that the two had put prior to this to get the land prepared. Their no-dig market garden aims at enhancing and building life in the soil. And although they are not yet organically certified they are a chemical-free farm and only use natural growing methods.
The hens on Seán and Robs farm are possibly among the healthiest and happiest we’ve seen. Their pasture-raised eggs are produced by chickens which are rotated onto fresh open grass every 24 hours. This allows the hens to express their full vitality and enhance their nutrition by picking and scratching at fresh bugs and life on the field. By using timed and observed movements, the hens add an abundant amount of fertility and impact, which results in dense nutritious pasture.
You can buy direct from Knocknarea Farm by signing up for their CSA (community supported agriculture) veg and egg box memberships. With a good few options available from a 4 week membership of pasture raised eggs from €20 to a seasonal veg bag membership of €285, you should be able to find something to fit your budget. Currently there are three different collection points for the boxes, but very excitingly, the boys are working on their new farm shop. On site. As fresh as it gets. Coming soon……… You can also buy eggs at their roadside honesty box. Read more about the membership boxes at Knocknareafarm.com
Tattie Hoaker Farm
100% organic, The Tattie Hoaker farm is a beautiful place. It lies between Benwiskin mountain and the Atlantic Ocean in North County Sligo. The farm produces vegetables that are certified 100% organic by the IOFGA (Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association).
We had a magical experience when we visited. As Aidan was giving us a tour of the young orchard, we looked to the left and there was a deer, very calm and in broad daylight. So beautiful, but said deer had probably been munching on Aidan’s saplings.
Aidans grows a variety of vegetables from to fennel, purples frills, chard to cabbages. The list goes on. With the help of WWOOFERS Tattie Hoaker offers seasonal veg boxes for collection weekly. But they also have a farm shop, open from 12pm on Saturdays. Filled with the freshest produce directly from the soil and various jams, chutneys etc from other local producers.
The farm runs a Community-supported agriculture project. They love to have local people and visitors come and get involved, and hopefully this will be a back up and running very soon. You’ll also find Aidan’s produce at Cliffoney Country Market on the first and third Sunday of each month. Find out more about the veg boxes at Tattiehoaker.farm
Paola and Andrew started their vegetable market garden at Carrowgarry Farm in Beltra, shortly after returning to Ireland back in 2017. Vegetables are grown in two large polytunnels and an outdoor area of a third of an acre, located in a walled garden and surrounded by apple trees.
They believe strongly in locally-grown, seasonal and chemical-free food. It tastes better, is more nutritious and environmentally friendly. One of the main lessons they’ve learnt from their few years of growing vegetables is the importance of building a healthy soil and this has become their main priority. Healthy soil will increase the quality of crops and also their capacity to resist climate stress, pests and disease.
Paola grows a mix of everything, but the most successful and in-demand crop is the mixed-leaf salad that they supply to cafes, shops and individuals. You can find Carrowgarry farm produce in Pudding Row in Easkey, Shells in Strandhill, Sherlock’s in Ballisodare and Baker Boys in Sligo Town. They also run a small vegetable box scheme during the spring and summer. Find out more about them at Carrowgarry Farm
The Hennigan family have been supplying high-quality free-range farm products to customers in the north-west of Ireland for over thirty years. The family farm is located on the slopes of Benbulben mountain and supplies free-range eggs and turkeys to customers in Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon.
At Benbulben Farm we sell 100% Irish free-range eggs. Their hens are healthy, happy and free to roam the sloping fields of Benbulben mountain. Delivered straight from their family farm our free-range eggs are nutritious and delicious with gorgeous yellow yokes. Benbulben Farm free-range eggs make a tasty breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack and they’re also excellent for baking. Order your free range eggs from Benbulbenfarm.ie
Support Your Local Farms
It was truly a pleasure to visit the farms and to meet the people behind Sligo’s wonderful fresh produce. Please support the farmers where possible by visiting your local markets and their farm shops. You won’t regret it.