Gort na Nain Farm supplies high-quality vegetables to several restaurants in Cork City, and at peak-season we supply the bulk of vegetables used by the award-winning vegetarian restaurant Cafe Paradiso. Cafe Paradiso, Irelands premier vegetarian restaurant, has a worldwide reputation for innovative cuisine and owner/chef Denis Cotter is the author of several acclaimed vegetarian cookery books. The nine-acre smallholding of Gort na Nain has now been the main supplier of Cafe Paradiso for over 10 years. Working closely with Denis Cotter, Ultan has selected a huge range of the finest tasting vegetable varieties that can be grown in the climate of the South Irish coast. Check out Denis' book 'Wild Garlic, Gooseberries & Me', which focuses largely on this relationship between grower and chef, and don't be surprised if some of the recipes from the book are served to you at Gort na Nain!
When purchased in December 2003, Gort na Nain consisted of a single 9 acre field in which arable crops were previously intensively grown. The holding has now been divided into four separate fields for vegetable production, and an orchard. One of the four vegetable fields is permanently occupied by perennial vegetables (e.g. asparagus, seakale and globe artichokes) and 10 polytunnels for the cultivation of aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables that find it a little too difficult to grow out in the open. The other three fields are used for the cultivation of hardy outdoor vegetables. Many people visiting Gort na Nain who are not familiar with the effect of the Gulf-Stream on Cork's South Coast, are amazed to see relative exotics such as aubergines, chilli peppers, borlotti beans, melons and globe artichokes growing side-by-side with the more conventional vegetables like potatoes, cauliflowers and salad crops.
Our freshly-picked seasonal vegetables are now available for sale at the entrance to our farm. The stall is open every day 10am-8pm. There is an honesty box for payment, so please bring change with you. Eggs are also for sale here when available.
The orchard consists of 116 apple, plum and pear trees and was planted in March 2008. Most of the trees are apples and we hope, in the not-too-distant future, to be producing our own fresh apple juice. One of the apple varieties is a cider apple producer, so we might have to have a go at making our own cider also! Of the 17 varieties of apple, 11 are native Irish apples that were sourced from Irish Seedsavers and Future Forests. We also have a small area for soft-fruit production on the farm (approximately 1/8 acre). We mostly grow blackcurrants, gooseberries and raspberries, as well as some less common soft-fruit including jostaberries, tayberries and pinkcurrants.
We have always wanted to keep bees on the farm and in April 2008 we became the proud owners of our first hive. We put aside the most sheltered corner of one of the fields as the Apiary (i.e. the space in which beehives are kept). Within two months of receiving our first hive we obtained two additional hives, and in the Autumn the bees provided us with a bumper crop of exquisitely flavoured honey. We even had enough surplus honey (about 15kg) that made its way to Cafe Paradiso. We have plans to scale-up our honey production for next year.
The house is situated on a 3/4 acre plot, enclosed on one side by a 'woodland' consisting of ash, oak, alder, larch and Monterey pine. The woodland, which was planted in March 2007, will act as a shelterbelt and, in time, supply all fuel needed to heat the house in Winter. A total of 1,700 trees were planted by hand over a 2 day period, a job that we're delighted we won't have to repeat!