Oliver Moore: Ethical, organic, community based deli in Athlone

The Lowe & Co store at 8 O Connell St, Athlone.

Lots of food outlets talk the good talk about local, seasonal and organic. Few really make a commitment to the level a new deli in Athlone has.

It’s called Lowe & Co, and is run by Lynda McFarland and Eddie Lowe.

I spoke with Lynda.

Oliver Moore: Tell me about your background Lynda.

Lynda McFarland: I am a nutritional therapist and chef, and my partner Eddie is a forester and willow weaver, specialising in fences, living willow structures, and round-houses.

We met while working on an estate in England, me as a private chef and Eddie as the forester.

Eddie renovated the building we are currently occupying; it was an old tailor’s shop, with lots of charm and character.

Since moving back to Ireland, and Eddie relocating here (he is English), we searched long and hard for the right premises in which to set up a little deli and grocer.

We always wanted it to be very traditional, in both style and our food offering - we cook what is in season and ferment, pickle, and preserve any surplus fruit and veg.

What sort of store is Lowe & Co, what are your present and future plans for it?

It is currently a little take-away deli and grocer using ethical, organic, and community produce. Ethical in terms of fair-trade and compassionate farming, certified organic as much as possible, and where not certified organic, then always free-range and non-GM, and community produce from local community gardens who we give our leftover ground coffee to, as well as offering cookery workshops and work experience.

We plan to have seating upstairs in the not too distant future.

We will also host the Athlone GIY, seasonal supper-clubs and events such as storytelling for children and adults.

Our good friend Louise, mindfulness practitioner and author, will hold mindful eating classes for children, to educate them about where their food comes from. We’ll also put on acoustic gigs by local musicians.

Is there a reason you have focused so strongly on organic?

We are passionate about traditional farming and organic growing, so it made sense to get organic certification.

At first, we only applied for it for the grocery items, as we wanted to be able to sell organic fruit and veg without all the plastic packaging. We thought we might find it hard to find everything for the deli from organic suppliers.

However, we have been really amazed by the variety of certified organic produce available to us. Organic producers are popping in to us on an almost daily basis, and we love hearing their stories.

So who are your organic suppliers, and why did you choose these?

Oliver from Wall & Keogh for his amazing loose-leaf organic teas; Gary from Imbibe for his triple certified delicious coffee; Jimmy Mulhall for his gorgeous organic beef pastrami for our Reuben sandwiches; Lough Boora Organic Farm for their brilliant selection of fruit and veg for so much of what we do here: Our fermented drinks, sauerkraut, kimchi, jams, chutneys and daily offering of savoury tarts, sandwiches, salads and stews; Mossfield Organic, via Midland Fine Foods, for our milk in the teas and coffees and also for the yoghurt and cheese we use; and finally Rossa Crowe from Le Levain Bakery for his delicious sourdough and rustic breads and baps.

Rossa in not certified organic but uses organic flour in his sourdough and in all products he supplies to us. We’ve also a new product, Feelgood Organic kefir from Blakes Always Organic.

We buy our dried goods from Simply Wild, Infinity UK and dried and chilled from Irish Independent Health Foods. Oh, and organic eggs from Nestbox, also via Midland Fine Foods.

Lowe & Co, 8 O’Connell Street, Athlone, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 8:30am-6pm


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