Something for everyone at National Organic Week

NEWS of top-drawer National Organic Week events is coming in thick and fast.

Here are two more – one on the Carlow-Laois border on September 11 and 12; the other at the Showgrounds Shopping Centre, in Clonmel, on September 19.

As a family day out and an opportunity to learn how an organic farm and food business operates, it’s hard to beat the Coolanowle weekender, on September 11 and 12.

Jimmy and Bernadette Mulhall’s farm and food business has long been an exemplar. The Mulhalls bring their impressive catering unit to the Point Village Market, in Dublin, each week, selling an array of their meats.

They stock beef, lamb, pork and poultry on their farm. They are an advanced example of farm pluriactivity, including processing and a guesthouse.

During the September event, they will celebrate the launch of their farm shop, completing their rural tourism and agri-food package.

Billed as the Coolanowle Organic Farm Food Fayre, the evening will begin with a long-table supper in a marquee in the grounds of the Mulhalls’ house. A fabulous spit roast of Coolanowle’s organic pork will be on the menu, with locally grown salads prepared in the house’s kitchen.

John and Sally McKenna, authors of the Bridgestone Guides to Ireland, will attend; John will be the guest speaker. Supper (including a vegetarian option) kicks off at 7.30pm, followed by a trad music session.

On Sunday, the Food Fayre continues, including an extensive farmer’s market, with stall-holders from Laois and Carlow.

Free workshops highlighting food skills will also take place, during the afternoon. These will include cheese-making (Tom Burgess of Coolattin Cheddar, Wicklow), a kids’ cookery session (food writer and campaigner for local produce, Dianne Curtin), and how to grow your own kitchen garden (Paula Pender, of Sonas Organic Garden, Carlow). The Mulhalls will show how to make sausages from organic meats.

For the kids, A Teddy Bear’s picnic will feature an idyllic wander around the woodland and lake on the farm, and face painters and bouncy castle will also keep them occupied.

A guided tour of the mixed farm will be available.

The opening of the farm shop unit will be performed at 1pm by Green Party TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, Mary White. Another guest speaker is Laois Partnership general manager, Ann Goodwin.

Coolanowle offer inclusive €80 packages for the weekend, or pay €30 for the long-table supper, and €5 for day-time entrance (children and students free). You can contact them at 059-8625176; go to www.coolanowle.com for more information.

The launch of a farmers’ market at the Showgrounds Shopping Centre, Clonmel, is a novel event, because, for possibly the first time, all the stallholders at a farmers’ market will be certified organic. This happens on Friday, September 17. Stallholders will have beef, pork, lamb, eggs, breads, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, salad leaves, and other products, such as tea, coffee, chocolates and hot food, will also be available. An application has been made for organic certification of the market as a retail outlet.

What’s also novel about this collection of stallholders is that I’ll be one of them. I’ve talked the talk long enough, now it’s time to walk the walk.


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