Kevin Wallace (New Leaf Urban CSA)
Kevin Wallace set up New Leaf Urban Farmers in 2016. With no prior farming experience, he took on the challenge of starting from scratch with a 1-acre site and began developing a market garden. Highly influenced by the Lean Principles, Kevin is very interested in efficient space utilisation and minimising/eliminating waste generation. The market garden is now 1.5 acres and based in Ballyneety County Limerick. Kevin grows a range of vegetables including salad leaves, tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, leeks and so on. His supply focus is primarily on the hospitality sector, and he also runs a small veg box scheme. The aim for the farm is to be totally self-sufficient and independent, and Kevin has worked tirelessly over the past 6 years to regenerate the soil and restore balance within the soil microbiology. His farming story to date has been one of observing, deep learning, experimenting, studying, trialling and analysing. Given Kevin’s inquisitive and curious nature, he enjoys the challenge and is a big believer in learning from his mistakes.
More recently, Kevin has been implementing Korean Natural Farming (KNF) methods on the land and has observed significant improvements on the farm since. Kevin believes that a richly diverse microbial ecosystem underpins plant health and soil vitality. This is achieved by culturing a diverse range of indigenous soil microbes and adding them to the soil. Various probiotic and prebiotic solutions are made from locally sourced and natural materials such as nettle, comfrey, seaweed and seawater, and are used to fertilise the soil which results in healthy, nutrient dense vegetable produce. Kevin believes that the overall quality of his produce has increased since he has adopted KNF, and he takes pride in his holistic and balanced farming system.
New Leaf Urban Farmers was established in 2016. They are a market garden of 1.5ac based in Ballyneety, County Limerick. They grow and supply specialist vegetables and leafy greens to the hospitality sector and also online with Neighbour Food Limerick. There micro-farm has developed over the past five seasons both in methods and practices. From low-till to no-dig to eventually arriving at, what they feel is the zenith of farming practices, Korean Natural Farming (KNF). They use no machinery, just hand tools and they no longer crop rotate. All our inputs are made from ingredients sourced on the farm and in the surrounding hills. The sole function of the farm can be distilled down to soil management practices. They believe that creating a richly diverse microbial ecosystem underpins plant health and soil vitality. By incorporating Korean Natural Farming (KNF) techniques we negate the proliferation of soil borne pathogens, as well as, create soil resilience to our changing climate and production needs. KNF is an elegant form of farming practised through the observation of the natural world and utilising its strengths. They achieve this by culturing a diverse range of indigenous soil microbes and adding them to the soil. Above ground we observe each crop and tailor its nutritional requirements to each stage of its growth cycle. Coupled with these nutrients are also a probiotic and a five herb prebiotic. Moreover, they also incorporate fermented edible medicinal plants such as comfrey and nettle, harvested when their auxin levels are high, to enhance the plant's development. Since adopting KNF practices, there production levels have risen significantly through the reduction of pests and diseases. In terms of leafy greens production; grey mould, aphids and lettuce drop have been contained in some cases and eliminated in others. The quality of their overall produce has risen, with customer feedback being consistently positive. They feel the reason for this is that our soil is microbially balanced for the crops they grow, leading to healthier and more nutritious produce for their customers and themselves.
Nominator: Thomas Stack, FFN Ambassador