Market Garden in Ireland that Offers Volunteering Opportunities

Meet Aonghus  from Galway, Ireland 🇮🇪

“We are Market Gardeners who host a lot of WWOOFers during our growing season and have a roadside shop. It is an honesty shop. We also sell salad crops to 10 different local shops and restaurants. 

I was a volunteer on farms in Europe and Australia during my twenties and I saw it there.  I love outdoor work. I started as a stonemason as a trade but over time just slotted into this I guess.

I always wanted to be more self sufficient during my twenties. As I worked on building sites I always wished I could build the farm instead. My father grew some vegetables too actually and at 7 years old I used to weed carrots and onions; when he let me. 

We farm on a location about twenty miles, out along the cost, from Galway City in the West of Ireland. But all we have under cultivation is one acre as the land is very rocky and in fact there are no other farms around here.  

We grow some staples mostly for the farm shop but more and more we are growing salad and leaf crops for retail. So a mix. People in Connemara (our region) absolutely love potatoes and that’s what we started growing. Now we grow a little bit of everything really and are especially fond of fast growing root crops, like kohlrabi and hakurei turnips. We also enjoy growing celery and beetroot (grown in clusters) and we champion them because they are cropped over a longer period. 

Rotation is a great buffer against pests. it does not have to be too strict. Years when we grow a lot of the onion family, for example when we are over-wintering garlic,  we will try to be aware more of the rotation. The potatoes were always one to be mindful of and with some of the Cabbage family, say Kale now as it can be there for a while, you want to be aware of that. You won’t start in the Spring consciously putting Kohlrabi into a bed that carried Kale for 6 months and you won’t pull up your Garlic in the first week of July only to put in a crop of Scallions. Little things like that. Our proximity to the Atlantic allows us to pull up plenty of Seaweed that boosts our soil whether incorporated as a mulch in Winter or added to our home made composts. And we use Animal manure but again conscious to bring these amendments to different beds all the time. And growing a variety of vegetables helps, too.

Because the Garden looks out to the sea, a great deal of wind comes at us from the South West. It manages to keep us on our toes for much of the year. Transplanting has to be well timed and with stony ground, the fence posts that hold our wind barriers, are often pushed over. Much seeds comes on the wind this way too. It’s not the postman bringing us those seeds for sure! 

We grow food for many reasons. A sense of purpose because other people in the community get to reap the benefits of your work. Knowing the land is done justice when all around you it is ignored. Showing others and yourself what’s possible.

I love the fact that we grow some of the most amazing microgreens indoors but all the spent compost is used to grow our most important crop, our lettuce, in the field.

We train our long term volunteers, who live here, interns almost, with the aim that they will become farmers one day. So we show the community side and the business side as well as the art and the craft of growing vegetables. We include day volunteers, often teenagers or retirees in this too, making time to hold classes and talks.

Find a farm and farm it. Give your time if you can afford to. Don’t think about what they get out of it but rather what you will get out of it. Try and find an honest farmer and a well run farm. The first will be easy the second will not be. Most small organic farms may give you room and board in exchange for work. And so the journey begins.”íGlas