Spring Cottage Organic Farm

I first met Rosie O’Sullivan when I took a stall at Honest2Goodness market in Glasnevin. Rosie had a neighbouring stall for her organic fruit and vegetables and I immediately fell in love with her produce. Her farm, just outside Kinnegad in Co.Westmeath comprises of 8 acres of organic certified farmland and is a joy to behold. I love to drive out on the N4, leaving Dublin behind me and head towards her rural idyll. Crunching up her gravel drive flanked by burgeoning bushes of lavender and up towards her red front door, you are greeted by a gaggle of neighbourhood children, a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig and Molly the dog.

Rosie's farm

Unusually perhaps, it is Rosie who started Spring Cottage Organic Farm back in 2006, and her husband Martin joined her full-time 2 years ago after getting made redundant from the construction industry. Rosie is formidable in her vision for her family, she started her farm in order to raise her two young children whilst still earning her own living on her own terms.  It is glorious to watch Rosie in her environment, her marriage is clearly a true partnership of two people bringing different skills to the table and complimenting one another.  She is a thoroughly modern woman, balancing family and profession in exquisite harmony. As a mother she is patient, involved and authoritative, as a career woman she is visionary and inspired, and as a food producer she is ethical, rigorous and exceptional.

Rosie

Rosie was one of the first people in Ireland providing a box system for home delivery organic produce. She has an arts degree from NUI Maynooth, a postgraduate in environmental science and a passion for travel, having lived in Brazil and traveled South America. She is extremely proud of her achievements at Spring Cottage Organic Farm – she was quick to tell me that the number of food growers in Ireland has decreased to a third of what it was a decade ago, and they are now considered an “endangered species”. While it is considered that it takes 80 acres of regular farmland to make an average industrial wage, Rosie and Martin make their living on their 8 acres with no help from government subsidies.  Every part of their land is working for them and their beautiful farm spans furrowed fields, polytunnels, a herb garden, a spring, a paddock and an array of animals – 120 Rhode Island Red hens, a donkey named Séamus, Maggie the horse, Honey the pony, 2 dogs, 2 cats and Paudie the pot-bellied pig who has a penchant for escaping and running amok in the village.

animals

Rosie really believes that everyone should eat organic produce – not just because of the health benefits such as increased vitamins and minerals and a lack of harmful chemicals, but also because it tastes so much better. It is her mission to make ordinary people happy to spend a mere 10% more for fruit and vegetables that are exponentially better tasting. Rosie and Martin sell their produce directly from various Dublin farmers markets, and it often dismays me to hear that shoppers sometimes choose non-organic produce from other stall holders over Rosie’s organic because they perceive hers will be more expensive, when in many direct comparisons, Rosie’s produce is frequently cheaper. She firmly believes in building up a customer base that she is on first-name terms with and whom she can look in the eye and offer fairly priced, high-quality produce. Her attention to detail has not gone unnoticed by some of the finest food establishments in the isle, including the Michelin-starred Chapter One and Avoca Monkstown who number among her wholesale customers.

kids

What strikes you about Rosie is her astonishing grit. She is not afraid of hard work, and indeed organic farming is considerably more labour intensive, with greater losses per yield than in regular farming.  Also, her determination to bring organic produce to regular working people means that her prices are compellingly competitive for the customer but her margins are far narrower than they could be.  For example, the cost of organic hen feed is nearing double that of regular hen feed, and yet she does not receive double the price for her organic eggs. What she does receive though, is unwavering loyalty from her customers who understand that her produce is of the highest quality, and for Rosie, that is the most important thing.

stream and flowers

At Wildflour Bakery I use Rosie’s beautiful produce because when I pay her for it I know exactly where that money is going. There are no middle-men, no supermarkets needing to make their margin by squeezing the producer, I know that I am making a direct transaction for produce that has been grown with integrity, passion, attention to detail, an understanding of sustainability and  ecology and to me, that is priceless. For me, Rosie is a hero of Irish food production, and I am not only glad to number her among my suppliers, but also among my friends.

R&K

Spring Cottage Organic Farm produce can be found at the following farmers markets:

Honest2Goodness market, Glasnevin, Dublin  – every Saturday 9.30 – 3.30pm

SuperNatural Market, Pearse Street, Dublin – every Saturday 9.30 -3. 30pm

Maynooth Square Market – every Saturday 9.30 – 2pm

Celbridge Market, Castletown House Gates – every Friday 9 – 1pm

Spring Cottage Organic Farm can also be found on Facebook here and at earthorganic{at}hotmail.com

 & in the following film

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One response to “Spring Cottage Organic Farm

  1. I love Spring Cottage’s produce. I buy a lot of it at the Supernatural market on Pearse St. I got to speak to Rose on the phone once about her farm. I was writing a long piece about the market and she’s not often there. The piece is on my blog if anyone is interested. Her stuff is always excellent.

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