- What's New
- Courses & Training
- Shop online
- Seed Catalogue
- Garlic, Onions and Shallots
- Seed Potatoes
- Vegetable Plants
- Courses & Training
- Garden Sundries
- Gardening Tools
- Irish Organic Herb Tinctures
- Kitchen equipment and more
- Pest Control
- Wheat Grass
- One World Irish Aid Project
- Free Community Garden Guide
- Local Accommodation
- Web Links
- News Archive
- Sign in
The Wild Wellied Women were established through the Growing Together Programme (IFI funded)
‘Growing Together’ for an Organic Future - The Future belongs to the Wild Wellied Women
The Women’s Organic Horticulture course was an innovative training programme for women who wanted to learn to grow organic produce on a commercial basis. The 2 year programme was based at two gardens, the Organic Centre at Rossinver and the Field Studies Centre in Derrygonnelly, Co. Fermanagh. The programme was one strand of the Organic Centre’s ‘Growing Together’ Programme, funded by the International Fund for Ireland, targeted at schools and communities in the border region.
As result of the programme, the Rossinver women’s group have now formed themselves as a ‘business’ and have found clients for their produce and are embarking on a small vegetable box scheme. The women’s project is particularly focused on those intending to grow food for family and friends, who have access to land to practice their skills at home and who have an eye on going commercial at some point in the future.
The programme was developed as part of the Department for Agriculture and Food’s initiative to increase the amount of land farmed organically in Ireland.One of the participants at Rossinver, Stephanie Maloney comments: “I know I speak for all the women on the course when I say how enjoyable we are finding the course. Under Klaus Laitenberger’s excellent practical tuition he has instilled in us the utmost enthusiasm and connection with the soil which our parents and grandparents had as second nature but which our generation has mostly lost. We are also having great fun on the course, making new friendships and have met our fellow gardeners at Derrygonnelly through cooking days and workshops.”
One of the purposes of the women’s project was to develop a successful model that can be replicated in other parts of the country. Capturing the learning from the project is of high importance in order to convince the funders of its wider benefits to the regional and national economy. A DVD film of the project, produced by Michael Brown’s Fermanagh based Development Media Workshop, will soon be available. For more information on the project please contact Anita at the Organic Centre on 00353719854338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This programme finished and has released the Wild Wellied Women into the horticultural business world. They now produce as a cooperative from their base in Ballintogher. More news to come.
Diary for the Womens Organic Project Rossinver 3rd June 2008 by Jackie Dimes
Another sunny Tuesday at the Organic centre. Klaus introduces the group to Michael Brown, a Fermanagh based community film maker. Michael has arrived to start shooting some footage of our project. His intention is to produce a short documentary on the womens project both at Rossinver and Derrygonnelly. The aim is to produce a DVD for distribution to other womens groups such as the I.C.A. and across the border the W.I. Also the DVD will be sent to our funders in particular the Department of Agriculture here in the south. Michael asked if anyone would be happy to be interviewed about the project. We all volunteered Steph as our spokeswoman. So amongst much giggling and laughter about being caught on film and minding our p's and q's the day got off to it's usual enthusiastic start, this time with Klaus all "miked up".
As we often do, we started our day with a visit to our plot to check on the progress of the plants. Unfortunately most of our Brassicas (well at least the ones we had moved from a seed bed) were looking the worse for wear but as usual this was an opportunity for further learning. Klaus explained that a wilted leaf was a sign of either wireworm, cutworm, or leather jacket infestation. The first wilted cabbage we looked at had been attacked by a leather jacket which we found and removed. We also found evidence of cabbage root fly and Klaus explained the use of collars to prevent the root fly attacking. He said that it is believed that it is not so much that the collar prevents them accessing the roots but that it provides an attractive home for a colony of beetles who will happily munch away at the root fly.
Some of our salad leaves had started to bolt which we learned was normally due to either stress or drought. Unusually for the North West of Ireland, in this case it was drought as we have hardly had any rain for 4 weeks. At the beginning of the course Klaus had said that you never need to water outdoors in Ireland but he admitted he needed to revise this, given the current rather rare weather conditions so we will all be rushing home to water our precious veg. after all!
We discussed harvesting lettuce and learned that the best time to pick lettuce is first thing in the morning before 8am. This is due to the evapotranspiration which basically means water being drawn out during the course of the day. If lettuce is picked early it will keep for up to 10 days in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Klaus mentioned a book by David Attenborough "Secret Life of Plants" which he suggested reading if we were interested in this side of things. He explained that for photosynthesis to occur a plant needs 3 things: light, carbon dioxide, and water and then it would produce oxygen and carbohydrates (sugars) . If you wish to explore this further please read the book!! We also learned that there are 4 categories or groups of lettuce: Cos, Loose leaf, Oak Leaf and Butterhead. A new category has been added in recent years and that is Batavia which is a cross between Iceberg and Butterhead. Our own lettuce crop was looking rather abundant so we agreed that we would harvest some and distribute it amongst ourselves later. Everything else was looking very healthy and growing well and I think we were all rather pleased with our progress.
A few people had missed a couple of weeks so they were really amazed at how well stuff had grown in the course of a fortnight of good weather. As usual we were all taken by how beautiful and how fast the tree spinach grows. Our potato plants are getting quite tall so we will do some more earthing up as Klaus said that a more compact plant tends to give a higher yield, as it is putting less effort into leaf production and more energy into producing tubers beneath the soil.
We discussed what we could sow now: Scallions (8-10 seeds in modules) or direct, Chard, Perpetual Spinach, Brassicas, Turnip, Parsnip, Radish, Dill, Coriander and Chervil - all could be sown direct until July. Swedes are best sown in modules. We spoke a little about companion planting and I asked Klaus about underplanting Brassicas with clover to prevent attack from the dreaded cabbage root fly. I had attempted this at home but ended up with the clover swamping the brassicas. Klaus explained that you should sow white clover in April and then sow your cabbages in May. The clover needs to be trimmed by hand to prevent it overtaking the brassicas and preventing their growth.
So after the lengthy inspection of our beds and some filming by Michael, we went off to the tool shed and got ready for more raking, sowing and general tending and weeding of beds. At this point I went off to make the tea but as far as I am aware courgettes were planted in the now redundant brassica beds (we couldn't replant brassicas there as there was evidence of the root fly). The group also went to check out the progress of our polytunnel crops which are all doing well and looking healthy.Tea time was the usual opportunity to chat and laugh amongst ourselves. The group is really getting to know each other now and it is amazing how productive we are whilst managing to maintain constant chatter and laughter. Klaus as always joins in.
After break we had a look at some weeds and identified Coltsfoot (Tussilago used medicinally for bronchial problems), Marsh Woundwort, Shepherd's Purse (tiny white flowers), Pineapple Mayweed which amazingly has the scent of pineapple, Willowherb and Hogweed which we discovered is an irritant to the skin and can cause terrible blisters. We also looked at Ivy and examined a plant and noted the different shape of the leaves which were in the shade to those in the sun. We discussed how nettles in the shade can become very tall plants reaching for some light whereas in the sun they are more compact and have a greater sting. Klaus explained why Holly is only prickly at the bottom to protect itself from predators but the leaves higher up on a tree don't need this defense mechanism.
So it was almost 1pm, all that remained to do was bag up our salad leaves, wash and return our tools and barrows and of course enjoy an outdoor lunch in the early June sunshine in the beautiful surroundings of the organic centre. Roll on next week.....