Sustainable farming and grow local

Sir, – What’s all this talk about growing cereals to feed our livestock? Our sheep and cattle thrive on grass. If we are to change some of our grasslands to tillage it should be to feed our people not our animals. Yes, feeding grass only (including hay and silage) would end up with less kg kill-out weight, but far better quality meat. Quality over quantity.

According to Ruth Hegarty (Opinion, March 12th) we import tens of thousands of tonnes of apples, potatoes, onions, cabbages and carrots, all of which can be easily grown here in Ireland – and when it comes to apples, most of these lie rotting on the ground where they have fallen.

On a small organic farm in Tipperary I managed to rear Dexter cattle, a mixed flock of sheep, a farrowing sow, and to grow organic oats for Flahavan’s. Admittedly the pigs needed a diet rich with cereals and pulses, but the rest just worked in rotation around the farm. There were no costs for fertilisers or pesticides, or the time and work involved with spreading them. The produce from my small vegetable and fruit garden were for family use, with surplus going to the pigs, and the same went for eggs from the ducks and hens. We were pretty self-sufficient.

In Ireland we speak glibly about sustainable farming and grow local – but it’s all talk. Except where I find myself now: in west Cork, well known for all its farmers’ markets, you can buy local produce almost everywhere. Even the local supermarkets support their local farmers with huge amounts of their produce available throughout the store.


This could (and should) happen everywhere in Ireland.

– Yours, etc,


Schull, Co Cork.