Lucy Walsh, Apple Grower
In recent years there has been an explosion of small-scale food producers. We have more makers, bakers, brewers and growers than ever before. It’s a wonderful revolution!
Take apples, for example. About 10 years ago we found it quite hard to source any Irish apples. Those that we managed to find were lovely, but the season was so short! After October we were back to imports.
All that has changed! Last year we sold more Irish apples than ever, from four excellent local growers, and they were available from Sept to March. One of our local suppliers was Lucy Walsh.
Lucy and her husband Maurice planted their first apple trees 7 years ago. The field they chose, in a townland called Ballinaboola, is less than 3 miles from here. She readily admits that she knew very little about growing apples at the start and, although she took some advice, she wishes now that she listened to more. The first few years were very “hit and miss”, she says.
The last 2 – 3 years have been really good though. She is full of praise for other growers in the area, who have been so generous with their practical advice, time and even equipment. “They’re just lovely people!” They have planted more trees, mainly Elstar and Jonagold, and are currently converting a barn into a cold store, so they won’t have travel to and from Piltown to store their fruit, as they have been doing.
Compared to other growers, Lucy’s production is tiny. Most of her apples last year were sold through Ardkeen Quality Food Store, and some from her “honesty box” at the end of the lane. She has no ambition to grow the business much more as her children are quite small and she wants to have time for them. In a few years though, she would like to grow some other fruit and she is might even try her hand at making cheese!
We’re definitely looking forward to that!