Ruby Harte (a.k.a Mags Riordan) has been a professional florist for over 12 years. Ruby runs a family owned nursery, Bumble Bee Farm in Castledonovan, Drimoleague and is deeply concerned about the protection and cultivation of nature and its habitats.
The differences in what’s happening between writing this article and you reading it are huge for us this month. I’m writing a week ahead ‘as such’ and the events I’m talking about will have already happened by the time this goes to print.
There is going to be the first (of many I hope) collective meeting of flower farmers from across the country. I set great store on this because I see it as an indicator of the changes in attitudes to flowers and their provenance.
I’m delighted and a little bit excited to be involved and see it as a brilliant starting point as the foundation for a natural, sustainable and environmental alternative to the chemical flower industry. It’s all thanks to Ruth Fortune who has organised the event.
I’ve been watching trends in the states and the UK for almost ten years now and we are catching up fast.
The provenance of our food is well-established largely due to unethical practices being highlighted through the media but we are now beginning to question the huge environmentally damaging effects and immoral practices in the flower industry.
It’s reassuring for me anyway to see there is now a growing number of flower farmers here on this tiny island of ours.
The changes in our food culture are also very exciting and UCC are having an event around food culture, marrying food with art. This is right up our street and the fun we are having with our edibles. Food is so visual; we eat with our eyes, after all it needs to be appealing. JP McMahon (one of my food hero’s) is speaking at this event so I’m going to have to divide myself in two the fit these events in because they are on the same day!!
We are expanding at a rate of knots and will be concentrating more on our edibles with exciting new developments into the world of cocktails. I won’t say too much about that for now but suffice it to say it’s going to be huge.
Emma our eldest daughter has come on board and the difference in direction, energy and renewed vitality is palpable.
I’m going to leave you with a beautiful simple spring tonic recipe using the Viola tricolor (heartsease) flowers, this beauty packs a real punch, if they are grown organicly they will retain their vitamin qualities and are rich in both A and C and are renowned for the spring cleansing properties that we could all benefit from. A little word of caution, sow your own seed, do not use garden centre plants, as some of these have been treated with a myriad of chemicals including dwarfing agents, not something you want to be eating.
A simple recipe we use here is to harvest about a cup full of flowers and add to four cups of water, bring to the boil and leave to infuse while cooling down. This can be taken in a concentrated version as a spoonful three times a day or alternatively diluted in a cup of spring water and taken first thing in the morning.
Have fun with this one. It’s an easy plant to grow and an enjoyable and nutritious recipe to make and use.