Who is Jim Cronin?
Recently, we have been blessed to have Jim Cronin visit Drumanilra Organic Farm. Jim has been practicing biological agriculture on a 5 acre plot in West Clare for years. He is one of the most respected organic growers in Ireland for countless reasons. The rate at which he is building soil and capturing carbon is exceptional.
Reason for the Visit
We invited Jim to the farm, in order to get a deeper understanding of the soil biology on our land. Specifically we wanted to see how we might approach the design of our market garden to create efficiency and flow. Our goal is to enhance the fertility of our soil and work with our land to produce more great quality food for our Farm Kitchens, and our Online Organic Farm Shop.
“Min-tilling” and other things…
Throughout the day, in Jim’s wonderfully calm manner, he opened discussions with us around poly-tunnel design and layout. He also addressed water drainage and retention and the orientation of our market garden in relation to sunlight and wind. He learned the history behind the market garden area. Then suggested improvements we can make to improve the fertility of our soil to produce more nutrient dense crops.
In particular, Jim expanded the approach he uses in ‘Min-tilliing’ the soil to enhance its fertility and workability. In loose terms, this approach uses a combination of specific cover crops (determined by the needs of the soil), high quality nutrient dense compost and minimally tilling the top 2 inches of the soil to prepare beds for planting. Building organic matter and life in the soil is the aim of the game in this approach, and there is somewhat of a craft to its implementation. The approach consequently reduces weed pressure greatly in the garden as the soil is regenerating and not having to repair itself constantly.
Thank you, Jim!
As a whole, Jim was very impressed with the quality of the crops Alex, our Market Garden Manager, has already produced in the season so far. To aid the quality of this food being produced, Jim had many insights to help Alex make our Organic Market Garden more efficient for a commercial scale. This included maintenance techniques, bed design, specific tooling, and techniques in processing particular veggies. We count ourselves very lucky to have Jim stop by, and we cannot thank him enough for expanding our knowledge. He is a pioneer in every sense of the word. We hope we can emulate some of what he has accomplished, in growing nutrient dense food and caring for soil.
By Rob Kennedy
Team Member & Projects Manager, Drumanilra Organic Farm