Food Harvest 2020

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Small farms in Ireland are in a steady decline and have been for several decades now.

Violets growing all over the woodland at Bealtaine Cottage
Violets growing all over the woodland at Bealtaine Cottage

In fact farming is now referred to as an “industry”…a most illuminating use of language!

Buddha in the gardens
Buddha in the gardens

The pressure on small farmers to produce more and more, (mostly meat), is driving many off the land, as they find it difficult to compete with the bigger landowners and thus meat growers!

Sammy-Bear says "Hello!"
Sammy-Bear says “Hello!”

The countryside is fast losing vital habitat, as hedgerows are pulled out, trees felled and field size increased.

Apple blossom and Honesty flowers in bloom at Bealtaine Cottage
Apple blossom and Honesty flowers in bloom at Bealtaine Cottage

There is a government initiative behind this, of course…”Food Harvest 2020!”

Willow archways at Bealtaine cottage
Willow archways at Bealtaine cottage

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is Simon Coveney TD.

Water that is drinkable!
Water that is drinkable!

Minister Coveney  held a meeting on the 17th of April.

Sedge in flower today at Bealtaine
Sedge in flower today at Bealtaine

Invitations were issued to key stakeholders, including farm organisations, beef processors and relevant state agencies to a round table discussion on the future development of the Beef Sector, as it is referred to! 

Mixed planting in the very productive Potager Beds
Mixed planting in the very productive Potager Beds

Participants at this meeting were invited to discuss the government initiative, Food Harvest 2020.

Photinia and Kerria
Photinia and Kerria

This scheme was introduced by the Irish government to increase production of beef! (Ironic naming it “Food Harvest 2020!)

Golden Euphorbia in the early morning sunshine
Golden Euphorbia in the early morning sunshine

Now, read this statement from the Minister of Agriculture…using language of industry, markets and sport!

Commenting today on the initiative, Minister Coveney said

By some measures the beef sector is Ireland’s biggest indigenous industry, involving more than 100,000 farm families, and 8,000 jobs in processing, sales and marketing, with exports valued of more than €2 billion in 2013.  Food Harvest 2020 set an initial target of a 20% increase in the value of output for the beef sector. The target for beef exports has already been exceeded. 

The time is now right to sit down with key stakeholders in the sector, to consider the strategic approach  needed to support its development, using the best available market intelligence, and the newest technology and research to improve performance at all levels of the supply chain.  The beef sector makes a vital contribution to Irish agri food and to employment and the economy generally. I am convinced that with the right strategic approach and positive collaboration from all of the players, the beef sector in Ireland has a bright future.”

(https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/press/pressreleases/2014/april/title,74954,en.html)

Near the veranda at Bealtaine Cottage
Near the veranda at Bealtaine Cottage

All the while, loss of habitat is causing devastation!

Ferns and Spurge cover the floor of the Fairy Wood
Ferns and Spurge cover the floor of the Fairy Wood

Friends of the Earth, (FOE), have called on the Government to do a full Strategic Environmental Assessment of Food Harvest 2020. 

Buddha wears a crown of moss in the Bog Garden
Buddha wears a crown of moss in the Bog Garden

Other groups raising concerns with Food Harvest 2020 include:

The Irish Climate Justice Group

The Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership.

Friends of the Irish Environment and Allies

Buddha at Bealtaine
Buddha at Bealtaine

The European Commission has announced it is launching an investigation of whether proper procedures were followed.

The lower pond at Bealtaine Cottage, teeming with Newts, Frogs...
The lower pond at Bealtaine Cottage, teeming with Newts, Frogs…

Each and every photograph I post here on this website is taken at Bealtaine Cottage.

Stream flowing from the Spring Well through both ponds
Stream flowing from the Spring Well through both ponds

These three acres of abundance exist because I took the cattle off the land.

The Bog Garden at Bealtaine Cottage
The Bog Garden at Bealtaine Cottage

I would like to invite Minister Simon Coveney to Bealtaine Cottage to see what happens to land when it is allowed and nurtured  to re-generate!

The Lower Pond filled with clean Spring water that flows out into the River Shannon and on into the Atlantic Ocean!
The Lower Pond filled with clean Spring water that flows out into the River Shannon and on into the Atlantic Ocean!

We need, as a nation, to cherish our land and protect it for future generations.

Sammy by the pond
Sammy by the pond

We need to produce more Organic Food for our people rather than importing it…that means fruit and vegetables and grains!

Bealtaine Angel
Bealtaine Angel

Oh, by the way Minister…you may call it Food Harvest 2020, but, I and many like me, do not eat beef…not much food there then!

18 Comments

  1. airmid3

    My friend is a harbour master and some years ago the Minister for Fisheries came to visit. After being shown around and given a trip out on the sea in a fishing boat, joked he had never been on a boat before and had no idea or clue whatsoever about anything to do with the sea. That sums up the way government operates regardless of which party is in. Ministers are given portfolios that they have no life experience of at all. I wrote to Minister Coveney last summer to tell him that Bhutan had become the first organic country, banning all pesticides and fertilisers and building up healthy eco systems (as you have). i asked why Ireland, as a small island nation could not do the same. Guess what? No reply! WE just have to keep doing what we are doing – as Rumi said, “Yesterday I was clever, I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, I am changing myself.” Love and blessings. xxx

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  2. D B Walker (@Popshuil)

    Agree Simon Coveney is a total Gombeen as is Enda Kenny, that is what you expect from people who follow a neo-liberal ideology but won’t admit it. Fine Gael are the party of the big beef farmers and always have been, they have consistently sold out the urban working class Irish and the landless rural dwellers. The only way to deal with them isn’t to try and change them as that is a waste of time but to get them out of Government before they do any more damage. Labour have proved themselves to be no better, Pat Rabbitte would have covered Ireland in Wind farms if the English Tories hadn’t pulled the plug on his pet big idea.

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    1. spancilhill

      Agree entirely, D B. But our two Tweedle parties like to think they offer a choice – and many people (the majority!) foolishly go along with that. Sadly, I can see FF coming back soon.

      Even on the doorstep, when candidates come seeking votes, it’s impossible to engage them in debate. Why? Because it’s futile. It’s pointless. Imagine winning a Fine Gaeler over to the sensible side, when they support the likes of what is written above. Mind you, they probably think the same about the likes of us, which is why our views are never taken into account.

      You will not change Coveney, Colette, no matter what paradise you present to him. Shall I tell you what really makes me feel nauseous about his words? This idea of ‘processing’. These are sentient, living, vibrant, loving beings he’s ‘processing’ in his ‘sector’. The language of the CIA infects us all and it should be resisted. Tell it like it is – slavery, exploitation and murder.

      Regards
      (and keep up the superb blog)
      David

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      1. Bealtaine Cottage

        Your last paragraph encapsulates for me all that terrifies…that human beings can be without compassion…my journey with the Great Mother has led me away from any idea of killing or eating flesh. It is a journey, not a dogma and it is the journey we should embrace. I am not critical of meat-eaters as many friends and family remain at that point in their own journeys.
        Blessings my friend XXX

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        1. spancilhill

          The language is deliberate, as you’re fully aware of. Imagine going into Trashco and saying, “Do you have a nice lean piece of a cow’s front leg? Oh, and some of its intestines for the dog, please.”

          Seriously, I agree about the journey. I am on it; we went totally organic in 1986, vegetarian in 1992, vegan in 2005. Things take time, don’t they? Rather than evangelise, which we know doesn’t work, I often just say, ‘veganism works for me’ and leave it at that but meat-eaters who try our food are impressed: one can only hope they eventually travel the same road as us.

          Regards
          David

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          1. spancilhill

            Colette

            Further musings.

            Free with all this ‘food’ comes a pair of green-tinted glasses.

            Anyone who consumes non-organic Irish meat and dairy here or abroad is consuming GMOs. No-one I know is aware of this but for instance look at the back of every bag that comes from Red Mills and it’s there in black-and-white.

            I can find no reference to GMOs on their website – well, surprise, surprise!!

            Regards
            David

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            1. spancilhill

              Sorry, can’t stop thinking…

              Another thought occurs to me…the IFA is likely to be behind a lot of 2020 project: they seem to hold tremendous power both over so-called ‘farmers’ as well as the government.

              If you do know any farmers, ask if they support the 2020 policy – if they’ve ever heard of it – and also if they belong to the IFA (a body which supports the use of GMOs, btw).

              Oh yes, Arrabawn (owners of the mis-named Greenvale) also sell GMO feed and, strangely enough, have forgotten to mention this on their website. Tut tut.

              I’ll shut up now.

              Regards
              David

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  3. homesteadmark

    Good post as always. We have our own set of problems here with “Big Ag” (agriculture). There is a ad running for a tractor company that extolls an example of a “farmer” whose great grandfather had 160 acres, is now cultivating 20,000 acres. The dark side of this is that this type of food production is completely dependant on massive inputs of petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides. The further problems of dependence on huge fuel hungry machinery and the dramatic depletion of soil quality, means that this model is unsustainable. A point rarely made about this type of “success” story is that the 20,000 acre farm required that 124 small sustainable farmers had to be displaced.

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  4. wspines

    I think the word is getting out here in Western Massachusetts. Our local food co-op offers free permaculture classes which are full every time. Here in the states agriculture ministers are usually associated with huge Agri businesses and have no idea about small farmers . Their interest is gobbling up small farmers. I hope the minister will come and see just what you have done. Love the pictures give Sammy Bear a hug for me.

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  5. winter robinson

    Beautiful pictures and, unfortunately, such true commentary. It is the world we live in, one of profit over people and nature. Both here on the planet and at higher level, transition and change are occurring rapidly. I always need to remember, and honor, that. Here in Maine spring is trying (very hard) to arrive. The mountains of snow have melted, leaving the life it protected all winter bursting through the earth.

    I would love to visit Bealtaine, in the meantime, your pictures are marvelous!

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  6. mardatha

    Agree totally with what you’re sayin but am gobsmacked at the difference in the growth between the west of Ireland and the east of Scotland. I’m at 1000ft which doesn’t help, but here nothing is ore than 3″ out of the ground yet, my mint is just poking it’s wee nose out this week and my apple trees are bare twigs with tiny buds on. I WANT SPRING lol

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