Incredible as it is to believe, in this abundant agricultural land, in the not so distant past, we found it was a struggle to source any Irish apples! Our most reliable supplier was Christian von Englebrechtan of Ballycross, but even then, the season was so short, often not past October.
Thankfully all has changed and we now can maintain supply September to March. Ballycross may have been the pioneers, and indeed still a valued supplier but we have now a network of apple growers.
First to us this year is Clashganny Organic Farm, Portlaw, with their Sissy Red variety
Richard Galvin took over the family farm in 1996, making the decision to make the change from sugar beet and suckler herd to organic tillage faming and apple orchards. There was a two-year process of becoming organic ensuring the land was cleared of herbicides and fertilisers.
As often occurs there was a symbiotic relationship within the food producing community; Richard began by supplying organic oats to Flahavan’s, then rapeseed to another of our great artisans, Kitty Colchester of Second Nature Oils, but this changed with the realisation they needed the bees busy pollinating the orchards not the rapeseed!
The first apple trees were set in Clashganny in 2001, now with over 20 acres and some 20,000 trees. Never ones to sit on their laurels, in 2018 Sheila and Richard Galvin, spotted a gap in the market. They discovered they could use the discarded apples to produce their own organic apple cider vinegar which is gaining in popularity as a health and nutritional supplement. We are delighted to see both their enterprise and orchards growing.
You know the old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, perhaps the purported health benefits alone don’t induce you to buying an Irish Apple but maybe consider, the ‘zero food miles’ the unbeatable freshness, the fact that we have hundreds of native varieties in Ireland, resulting in so much more choice and flavour than your run of the mill Gala or Granny Smith and finally supporting a local grower who is a valuable member of our economy. Take a bite of that!