I’ve been a very lucky blogger lately & have been invited to some really special events. The Galway Food Trail 2015 was no exception. At the end of the day I felt so inspired & privileged to have met some of Galway’s finest producers.
We started our day at the Black Box Theatre in Galway at the Local Food & Craft Gift Fair. From there a small group of us took a luxary bus to three local producers. The food trail & craft fair were organized by Ricky at the Local Enterprise Office Galway. Our tour guide for the day was Sheena Dignam from Galway Food Tours “Around the Market Place.”
Photo Credit: Enterprise Galway
Our first stop was at Green Earth Organics. Unfortunately, the food trail took place on the third day of extremely heavy rain so it impossible to go into the fields. Kenneth brought us on a tour of their polytunnels & told us about their organic operation. The farm originally belonged to Kenneth’s grandfather.
Green Earth Organics is a certified organic farm. Jenny & Kenneth Keavey grow a wide range of crops both in the field & in their 7 polytunnels. They sell their produce directly, at the Moycullen market & by a delivery service where you can order a box of organic produce delivered right to your door.
Kenneth made a lot of really great points about the foods we eat. The chemicals used in non-organic farm production are based on the need to use them, not on how much is safe to consume. Farmers have to grow what the consumer wants to eat, not necessarily what’s in season or what grows well in a particular climate. As a result, foods have been genetically modified or dosed with pesticides to prevent disease.
Green Earth Organics is full certified organic, doesn’t use any GMO ingredients & uses a mixture of organic chicken manure & seaweed for fertilizer. Rather than trying to grow out of season which requires heat lamps & an artificial system, they buy organic from other countries which makes great sense.
We have always tried to eat healthy in our house & we have been more & more careful with foods over the past few years. There are things we have been eating that after a little research we have found them to have hidden nasty additives. I buy organic as much as possible, but a lot of things aren’t available in the local shop. The Green Earth Organics delivery system is a great way to solve that problem!
After a great tour & lots of info on organic food growth, we loaded back on the bus & headed to our next stop on the trail. My outfit for the day was comfy clothes, my Dr Martens boots & my heavy winter coat. No make-up, no heels – very different from the Galway Fashion Trail the previous Saturday! I was very grateful for my boots on the farms.
Next, we visited Ronan Byrne AKA, The Friendly Farmer. Due to the continued rain, we had to huddle in the abattoir to stay dry (insert cringe emoji lol). Seriously though, the abattoir was spotlessly clean. Slaughter is part of meat production & it’s no harm for anyone who eats meat to know the full process of how it arrives on your plate.
Ronan explained his process from receiving the day old chicks, raising them, slaughtering them in his abattoir, then selling his product direct to the consumer. The Friendly Farmer raises free-range chickens, turkeys, geese & ducks. Ronan sells all of his poultry directly to the consumer at the Moycullen farmers’ market, to chefs across the country or from his website. He has perfected a dry plucking system for the duck & geese which produces a high-quality product.
The turkeys & chickens have the option to be outside or inside 24/7. They are never locked in. Ronan pulls their polytunnels over & back in the fields to keep the ground fresh. The birds are protected from predators by 6 Pyrenean dogs which Ronan has trained & who live in the fields with the chickens. The dogs are massive!
The Friendly Farmer’s birds are raised free range & organic except for the feed which isn’t organic due to the cost. I loved this quote from Ronan – if it is to be, it’s up to me. It’s a wonderfully entrepreneurial way of thinking & has served him well.
After another spin on the bus, we made it to our third & final stop at the Galway Hooker Brewery. It’s an independent artisan brewery which produces high quality, natural beers. The beers are crafted with traditional brewing techniques.
Galway Hooker Brewery was established in 2007 by two first cousins, Aiden Murphy & Ronan Brennan. It was the first brewery to make pale ale in Ireland. Now, they produce 500,000 liters of beer per year. Aiden guided us through the step by step process of how they brew their beers. They consider beer to be like any other food & source fresh, local ingredients. The beers are brewed using only malted barley, hops, yeast & water. The malt is sourced from Cork. Because commercial hops aren’t available in Ireland, they source EU & American hops through a supplier in England.
Beer is one of those things that I bought, drank & assumed there weren’t added ingredients.But, I have recently learned that a lot of beers have added artificial ingredients, colors & flavor enhancers. For some crazy reason, there’s no requirement to list beer ingredients on the packaging. It’s great to know that there aren’t any additional ingredients in the Galway Hooker Beers as they are some of my favorite beers to drink. Aiden was nice enough to pour us each a sample!
We sat & enjoyed our packed lunch, a pint of Galway hooker beer & lovely cheese platters that the brewery gave us. It was such a tasty picnic!
My two ITWBN blogger buddies for the day especially enjoyed the cheese! (So did I but there’s no photographic evidence ha!) On the left is Aisling, The Super Fit Foodie & on the right is Ciara from How to be Fed. I received an invitation to the food trail through my membership with the Into the West Blogger Network (ITWBN). They are an amazing organization that has opened so many doors for me!
Our packed lunch was supplied by three local artisan food producers who were featured at the Food & Craft Fair at the Black Box theater. The super yummy sandwich was from Builin Blasta. The amazingly tasty raw & sugar-free treat was from Bliss Bites. And, the fresh & healthy juice was from Juicy Lucy.
That wrapped up the Galway Food Trail 2015 & the bus brought us back to the craft & food fair at the Black Box theater. We had a walk around & met many of the 50 Galway producers. It was really lovely to talk to people who are so passionate about what they do. Among the producers were those in jewellery, produce, baked goods, honey, crafts, pottery, granola & so much more.
I was delighted that everyone I met is using good quality local ingredients & supplies. I left the day feeling inspired & happy. It’s so important to support local producers. There’s nothing healthier than consuming high quality locally produced food & drink.