Bhliain Nua Sásta 2014

Bhliain Nua  Sásta 2014

Best wishes and HAPPY NEW YEAR may 2014 be a good one from all at Blissberry Social Farm Mouncharles County Donegal

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Our local economy will be excited in 2014 by local food partnerships supporting local businesses @blissberryfarm

Our local economy will be excited in 2014 by local food partnerships supporting local businesses @blissberryfarm

Blissberry Social Farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme will allow YOU to have direct access to high quality, fresh seasonal produce grown locally in 2014.

Blissberry Farm Mountcharles will offer opportunities for people to meet in different ways and will continue to address important community issues through our new CSA initiative and Healthy Gardening Programme 2014.

James McCrudden (our resident Healthy Gardening Programme Gardener and fellow Country Market founder and local producer) and I will continue again in 2014 to take on the task of helping to re-educate new green fingers participants in how to shift diets, healthy minds and bodies to include more fresh produce when it is in season and how to store or preserve for winter months. Our ‘Seed to Plate Healthy Gardening Programme’ will start early 2014 – more about that later.

COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE (CSA) INITIATIVE AT BLISSBERRY SOCIAL FARM 2014

We at Blissberry Farm believe our new CSA Initiative is about health. Healthy soil means healthy food to us. When no herbicides, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers are used, ground water pollution and toxic residues on food are avoided. Our CSA will give members the chance to choose how their food is grown. Eating locally grown, freshly harvested food is the basis of a healthy diet and is recommended by health-care professionals.

Our CSA scheme based at Blissberry Farm will offer the opportunity for members to reconnect with rhythms of nature by eating local produce when it is in season. We believe people who join CSAs find a meaningful way to reunite with the Earth and a community and discover a kind of spiritual nourishment which they have been missing.

Our CSA scheme is also about ecology. We believe the Earth is a living Being and the actions of every individual have an effect on the whole. The soil is the basis of all human life and the quality of its care and health affect not only the people who eat the food today, but also those who will depend on the soil in the future. Even though our rural population is engaged in farming, the proper tending of the environment is the concern and responsibility of every individual. It is in the consumer’s interest that farmers are supported so that they can grow the highest quality, most nutritious food while preserving the highest environmental quality and soil health.

Last year, we heard our participants at Blissberry Healthy Gardening Programme say “it’s about community, social, fun and a lot more”. We believe our ‘Seed to Plate’ Healthy Gardening participants and our new CSA members are interested in MORE than vegetables: they want to know they are working with a local producer and grower who shares their environmental and social concerns, and are very much interested in their fellow CSA shareholders. Wider community participants are welcome to our CSA Initiative, our ‘Seed to Plate’ Healthy Gardening Programme and the many more activities planned for 2014. During the year we propose to host local groups for nature and countryside walks, studies and guides, bee keeping courses, local and global development awareness workshops in the garden and at our Blissberry Social Farm / South Donegal Beekeepers Association Apiary.

Blissberry Social Farm is about strengthening a sense of community. We intend to have a 2014 Blissberry Social Farm Newsletter to let people know what’s going on in the garden, share recipes, and announce things of common interest or concern and social events.

McKenna’s Irish Food Guide 2014 Award wining Chef/Proprietor Enda O’Rourke checking Blissberry Farm Gardens

McKenna's Irish Food Guide 2014  Award wining Chef/Proprietor Enda O'Rourke checking Blissberry Farm Gardens

Congratulations to our friend Enda and his team at THE VILLAGE TAVERN BAR & RESTAURANT MOUNTCHARLES on their McKenna’s Irish Food Guide Award 2014. Delighted for them. Good LOCAL SEASONAL food is for everyone to enjoy. Looking forward to your company here at Blissberry Farm in 2014 Enda – your support and help is much appreciated my friend.

@blissberryfarm Donegal’s 1st Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Scheme starts January 2014

Donegal’s First Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at Blissberry Farm Mountcharles will commence January 2014.

Community supported agriculture (CSA) at Blissberry Social Farm consists of a local community of individuals (30+so far) who have pledged support to our farm ‘seed to plate’ operation. Growers and consumers will provide mutual support and share the risks and benefits of food production. CSA members or “shareholders” of the CSA Garden have pledged to cover the anticipated costs of the farm seed to plate operation.

In return, they will receive shares in the CSA Garden’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in local food production.

Why a CSA scheme at Blissberry Farm 2014.

Many reasons to name a few . . .
Increased variety of produce. Exposure and access to new food last year at the Blissberry Healthy Gardening Programme led to some creativity in the kitchen. From blueberry and kale smoothies, to fresh tomato salsa and seaweed scones – James McCrudden and I believe each CSA pick-up of fresh produce will lead to an adventure in 2014.

We will have a variety of package offerings designed to meet individual or family needs.

We strongly intend to create a connection between the grower, the ‘seed to plate’ volunteers, our local Country Market and where the food comes from.

New knowledge about sustainable farming practices. Growers and local producers are a wealth of information on crop varieties, planting and harvesting, soil preparation and practices and climate. Besides conversations at markets and on the farm, expertise will be shared through Blissberry Newsletter ‘Seed to Plate’ publications in 2014.

Brings generations and communities together. Rubbing elbows with neighbours, growers, producers, the ‘seed to plate’ volunteers and our local award wining restaurant The Village Tavern will lead to so much more over time.

Environmentally friendly.
Growing practices will contain low or no pesticides and hormones.
There is very little travel cost/emissions compared to shipping food hundreds or thousands of miles.
Growers maybe interested in reusing plastic bags, boxes or egg cartons, which leads to more ways of being involved.

More later . . .

THINK OUTSIDE THE

Seeds of Hope: Blissberry Social Farm

Imagine a view of gently, wooded hills and fields and your eyes gazing across a stretch of sea to the thread of gold that is Murvagh beach and beyond into the blue of the distant Sligo mountains. Imagine a track, a boreen leading down through an ancient hazel wood and the sound of a small stream running at your side and spilling over black rocks – a waterfall shining in the green.

Imagine stopping on this sun-warmed path, stopping and breathing. Breathing in the wonder of this place and breathing out the stress and tension of daily life . . . breathing in, breathing out. Following the way down and as you breath in you smell the sea and the seaweed before you step out onto the stony beach. Waders call and a splash of water could be a fish and a dark smudge could be the head of a seal it’s big brown eyes looking back at you.

Back up the track you see the mottled stones of cottage ruins, the gable ends inviting with their stepped edges like stairways to heaven . . .

You stop again, this is a journey of stopping and breathing and tuning in, you hear the bees, smell the coconut scent of yellow gorse, you hear the thud of a mattock, voices, people chatting in the distance, giving advice, laughing, fingering the soil.

Now imagine blueberries the size of your thumb and biting in to one now, the sweet and sharp taste, the juice on your chin . . . welcome to Blissberry Farm.

Blissberry Farm is a ‘social’ farm, a real farm that extends its purpose and it’s hospitality to people, who have a need to connect, with others, with themselves and with nature. People who seek meaning and purpose for their day, a reason to get up, people in recovery from the stresses and grief of everyday life, people walking away from the loneliness of their homes, people in the act of reconstructing a positive personal and social identity, people re-writing their stories as journeys, journeys to wellbeing.

All of us whether we realise it or not are on this journey and Blissberry Farm offers a route there. It’s easy to wax romantic about the good life, bucolic living, self-suffiency etc … etc … but this is, after all Donegal and reality especially in this part of Ireland will have its say and loudly and bitterly if it wants.

Blissberry Farm isn’t an escape into a dream world, it’s an escape from a dream world (and for some a nightmare) into the reality of nature just as it is, sometimes soft, sometimes hard. A reality that kindly presents us with tasks, jobs, and things that need doing.

Soil to be dug, plants to be watered, weeds to be wed. Doing what needs to be done is a way of simplifying our lives, we don’t need to think about it, analyse it or fantasize about it we just need to do it, to get out of our heads and into our bodies and what better way to do this than by doing the very things are bodies are designed for; working with nature, as we have done for generations upon generations until somebody turned a tool into a machine and then before we knew it we had the laptop! Not of course that there is anything inherently wrong with these, only like our minds they seem to have taken over and increasingly tend to have the ‘run of us’.

Working the land in whatever way we are able is a way to reclaim those parts of ourselves that our minds took over, to overcome to an extent the tyranny of thinking and to begin to leave our minds behind to become human ‘doings’ and thus eventually human ‘beings’. It is said that the longest journey any of us ever make in life is the journey from the head to the heart, social farming is about that journey, it’s about people harvesting hope in partnership with the land. More than ever every town and country area should have one.

For thousands of years our communities have been built around the land, the land has literally shaped us as individuals and as communities and cultures and it is only relatively recently that that connection has been broken. Research is now telling us that regular, physical contact with the natural world is crucial for our wellbeing.

It’s not complicated. I sit down, I breath in, I breath out. The potatoes need to be dug, I don’t need to wait until I ‘feel’ like doing it, I breath in, I breath out, I pick up the fork, and being careful not to spear any spuds with the tines, I sink the fork into the soft earth . . . and lift.


Mike Rainsford
HSE Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention Officer
Sligo

Blissberry Farm is the home of Larry, Winifred and Patrick Masterson.

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Locally Grown Food / Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Blissberry Farm Mountcharles

Eating locally grown foods has an impact far beyond the relatively little money you pay for it.
 
It’s an important step for the environment since it reduces the energy needed to grow the food and get it to you. It’s good for local farmers, because it helps them stay in business and thrive.
 
It’s also good for you spiritually. It feels good to take a step that so clearly helps both local people and the earth. It feels good knowing that your seasonal food is fresh and was brought straight from the farm to the table.
 
CSA began in Japan in the seventies by women who were concerned about the poisoning of their food by Mercury in the water and soil. Although there are many ways to develop a CSA in essence CSA is a business transaction where a farm produces food and the community pays the…

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