Ballymaloe Cookery School sits on a 100 acre organic farm near the sea amidst the undulating landscape of beautiful East Cork. Our 12 Week Certificate students, in particular, benefit from the produce of the farm, gardens and one acre wide glasshouses which yield an abundance of fruit and vegetables throughout the year. Our free-range livestock include pigs, beef and dairy cows (Angus, Kerry, Dexter and Jerseys), as well as many hens who keep the school in a supply of fresh, organic eggs.
There are two main areas where we grow our vegetable crops:
As Ballymaloe Cookery School is primarily a teaching environment, these areas are often used in experimental ways to test out new planting and sowing techniques. As organic food production involves restrictions on the use of pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilisers, we are continually working on new techniques to control weeds and pests, and to enhance soil fertility. Such experimentation involves biodynamic planting and our "No Dig" area.
We also create our own organic compost here at the school. This is done by regularly turning organic matter which helps to aerate it. The natural bacteria in the soil thrive in the heat of the compost and break it down. When compost reaches the humus stage, it is once again a living thing full of bacteria, fungi and insects. This ensures the biodiversity that is absolutely essential to the health of the soil and, in turn, the plants and crops by giving them a greater resistance to disease.
Our core philosophy at Ballymaloe Cookery School is sustainable food production. Our beautiful farm is our greatest asset and we make every effort, not only to minimise our impact on the environment, but also to enhance it where we can.
Visitors to the Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens are encouraged to continue their explorations by following The Farm Walk which begins just beyond The Shell House as you enter the Wildflower Meadow. Susan Mannion, one of our gardeners, writes a very interesting quarterly Garden Diary which highlights in some detail what's happening both in the gardens and on the farm with each season's passing.
An integral part of the Ballymaloe Organic Farm is our Dairy. Every morning our 6 Jerseys cows are milked here and provide us with enough milk to produce our own cheese and yoghurt for the Cookery School and The Garden Shop.
Most certainly, a trip to Ballymaloe Cookery School is not complete without a visit to our wonderful organic farm!