The gardeners of Goresbridge were delighted to welcome Alan Foley to the Community Garden this week.
Alan is the award-winning Head Chef at the beautiful Step House Hotel in Borris and thanks to a Kilkenny Leader Partnership funded initiative, the community garden have started supplying the restaurant with herbs and vegetables from the small garden.
I’ve written many posts on Goresbridge community garden, having worked as their garden tutor since the spring of 2010 so it’s an absolute pleasure to see the garden begin to develop to a more profitable stage.
An element of my KLP funded contract this year was to create business linkages with the community gardens I work with and thanks to the enthusiasm of the gardeners and Valerie Lanigan in particular who initially approached the hotel, we’ve been able to do this.
Alan sources as much of his produce from local suppliers as possible and it’s clear from his passion and enthusiasm that quality is important to him. His daily menu is fresh, full of seasonal ingredients and thoughtfully presented.
As we shared beetroot cake and tea with Alan, discussions about herbs and vegetables that we could sow for the coming seasons flowed. It’s not surprising that he’s worked his way up to the Head Chef position – Alan thinks, talks and breathes food, conjuring up images of combinations we’d never thought of as he looked around the garden. Beetroot and coriander seeds, foraged fruits and vinegars, flowers and fish – each idea filling us with excitement about the food we can supply he and his team with over the coming months.
It’s one thing to grow a bed of potatoes and kale to take home and cook with our Sunday lunch but quite another to know that food we’ve sown from seed will be transformed into mouth-watering dishes!
So what can you supply a restaurant with when your garden is small? Herbs, herbs and more herbs for starters. Jams, vinegars, courgettes, squashes and cucumbers – pretty much anything we can grow or make, Chef will take. In the next couple of weeks we’ll be planting more spinach and winter salads, filling the beds once again as we take the harvest from them.
If you’re ever in doubt about what you can achieve, here’s a photo of the garden before we began growing in it. Now the garden is alive with colour, bees, hoverflies and ladybirds as well as fruit, herbs and vegetables of all descriptions.
And time…? We meet for just two hours once a week and there’s a watering rota. Community gardening is fun, social and very rewarding. Who knows where it will lead…