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Seed Savers’ sales grow by 20%

Sales of vegetable seeds at a registered charity organisation in Scariff have grown by an impressive 20% in the last year, thanks to the recession.
Chrys Gardener of Irish Seed Savers’ Association said the amount of vegetable seeds sold at their centre have jumped by 20% from January to July this year, compared to the same period last year. The group estimate that 10,000 packets of seeds are sold on an annual basis.
Ms Gardener has noticed that there is now a lot more interest shown by people in starting their own vegetable patch in their back garden.
The increased interest in gardening was reflected by the attendance at the first tour of six private gardens in East Clare last Saturday. The garden tour attracted 211 visits in total, ranging between 30 and 43 for each garden and some green-fingered enthusiasts also attended more than one garden.
According to Ms Gardener, the feedback from the event was extremely positive, with participants commenting on how inspirational it was to view how people grew vegetables in different ways.
One of the most popular features on the gardens was how to grow vegetables on raised beds or how to plant on a slope.
Tommy and Anita Hayes, Magherabaun, Feakle, held one of the garden tours, where the family grows most of their own fruit and vegetables in highly productive waist-high raised beds.
Gardening this way is very easy once the system is in place. The raised beds are very easy to use without bending and Anita and Tommy will be able to continue gardening here well into their “golden years” they said.
Woodlands, orchards, soft fruits and a reedbeds are planted around the garden and the birds and frogs and insect life they support give a hand with pest control.
The other gardens on the tour include Frank and Gráinne’s garden, Glendree, Feakle; Harry and Mona Muller, Glendree, Feakle; Jane Byrne, Ballynevin, Bridgetown; Michael McMahon, Gortaderra, Scariff and Jim Cronin’s farm at Ballynevin.
Ms Gardener was delighted with the success of the tours. “The best way to learn how to grow vegetables is to go out to other gardens rather than reading it from a book.
We thought that these tours would be more interesting for the experienced gardener but instead it attracted a lot more new gardeners, judging by the questions that were asked.
“It is great to see a trend towards returning back to nature. When I first came to Ireland in 2005, I was surprised to see there was only a few gardens. That has changed in the intervening years,” she said.
Back in her home in Ithaca, New York, she found it very difficult to grow vegetables because sometimes it didn’t rain for between four to six weeks.
She is delighted with the move she made, which was facilitated by the fact her grandparents are from Ireland.
“I love the culture, music and the fact that people are much more relaxed in Ireland. I can grow 50% more vegetables in East Clare compared to what I could grow in the same patch in the United States. You don’t have to water your garden in Ireland because we get so much rain.
“Food security is increasingly becoming an important issue. Look at Somalia, their famine is caused by drought. Ireland should examine water, which is one of its greatest resources,” she said.
Meanwhile, people can learn how to build their own outdoor clay oven this weekend at the Irish Seed Savers’ Association.
This is a unique type of wood-fired oven that is used to make delicious pizza and bread.  Participants in the two-day workshop will gain hands-on experience building the clay oven using clay, sand and straw on a fieldstone base.
The Irish Seed Savers clay oven was featured on a Richard Corrigan cooking programme. For more information or to book a place, ring 061 921866 or go to www.irishseedsavers.ie.

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