Farm tour to explore cooking and gardening in the Burren
Clare Farm Heritage Tours will present the fourth walk in its series of summer events on Harry Jeuken's farm on Sunday September 11. Harry Jeuken will show his own garden on the day, where most years he is able to successfully grow a wide variety of crops outdoors, and he will also explain prehistoric cooking practices with two fulachta fiadh on his land. The meeting point for this walk is Gortlecka Cross near Mullaghmore and refreshments will be available at the end of the tour.
Harry Jeuken and his family came to Ireland and took up traditional farming in the Burren in 1997. Just a year after their arrival they set up two kitchen gardens, which have since brought the family a steady supply and wide variety of vegetable crops and a lot of experience in gardening and the conditions in the Burren. “While many people may think that it is very different to garden successfully here, I believe that the principles are the same all over the world,” he said. “The most important thing is to look after the soil properly by replacing every year what you (or your plants) have taken from it. This can be done by applying manure, compost, and even seaweed in the autumn time after the harvest.” He has been very successful with this concept so far and all of his gardening is done outdoors without the use of polytunnels or greenhouses. “We have had many good outdoor crops over the years and we accept also if some years a crop fails – this is all part of nature,” he added.
Gardening is of course not the main work and also not the main attraction on the farm. Following the tour of the garden, there will be much more to see and learn about prehistoric times. While there was no gardening as such done at the time, with foraging being the main way to gather vegetables and roots, cooking within settlements was very common and the farm includes two great examples of ancient cooking and gathering places – called fulachta fiadh. A fulacht fiadh used to be a meeting point where locals gathered in ancient times. Here water was heated with the use of hot stones and used for cooking and washing. The ancient practices will be explained in detail on the day, with parallels drawn between our lives today and our prehistoric ancestors.
Harry Jeuken is an accredited organic farmer who uses traditional methods which maintain the biodiversity and protect this sensitive area. In addition to cattle and sheep, his herd includes a flock of goats. Their milk is used for cheese-making.
The farm has many monuments and sites that warrant a second visit with unique limestone patterns of the crags, well-preserved ring fort, glacial erratics, a valley with its own lake, and other sites including holy wells, stone huts, and penitential stations. Custom tours are also available to this or any of the seven other farms that comprise the co-op, which boast more than 100 archaeological sites and monuments. More information is available on www.farmheritagetours.com
The garden and farm walk will focus on gardening in the Burren, the fulachta fiadh, and Burren farming. Meeting point on the day is Gortlecka Cross near Mullaghmore at 2pm (for directions call Richard on 087 2074205). The talk and walk will be available at a discounted rate of €7 per person including refreshments. Sturdy walking shoes and rain gear is advised — the walk will go ahead even in showery conditions. While individuals can simply attend tours and events on the day, groups are advised to make contact in advance. For bookings call the Michael Cusack Centre on (065) 7089944 or email firstname.lastname@example.org