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HomeFarming NewsGrowing you own and raising chickens: A greener and cleaner life
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Growing you own and raising chickens: A greener and cleaner life

How to live a greener life

SOLAS Eco Garden Shop in Portarlington, Co. Laois, is “trying to make a difference and lead by example” by demonstrating “best practices for how to live a greener life”.

That is according to David Maher, co-owner of SOLAS, the country’s first eco garden destination centre. It invested up to €3 million into redeveloping an abandoned steelwork into a “beacon for a new greener age”.

He said: “Our 4-acre outdoor plant and food zone is constructed entirely from end-of-life 40ft containers.”

“From the kitchens to the seated area, the toilets, and our 13m high light tower: everything is built from recycled materials.”

“Central to our green theme is our education and training programmes, especially those designed for children to show how to make everyday changes in their lives and gardens to allow them to live a green life.”

“We all need to change our ways – Climate change is here, and it is only by changing our ways that we can hope for mitigating the worst effects of what might be coming our way.”

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“But where to start? What can little old me do? Here are five things you can teach your kids to do which will make a positive difference. After all, it is their future.”

Greener life:

  • Chickens – convert food waste into eggs;
  • Compost your food waste and green garden waste;
  • Grow your own vegetables;
  • Teach your children to choose the path less trodden;
  • Grow Irish Wildflower Seeds (biodiversity mix).
Chickens – convert food waste into eggs

This is most likely the most fun and rewarding thing you can do in your back garden. Chickens are inexpensive to buy.

A 6-month-old ready-to-lay hen costs just €15, and you can purchase a chicken coop large enough for four hens for €100 at SOLAS Eco Garden Centre and Food Market.

Although the chicken you see in the supermarket is only about 7-week-old, hens have a life expectancy of 7-10 years and will give you an egg a day for the first 5-7 years.

Maher said: “We have a wonderful spa for our ten hens on site. They live in the lap of luxury and have so much space, air, and food!”

“We give them food waste from our café; nothing goes to waste, and they lap it up!

Compost your food waste and green garden waste

Food waste accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions, compared to only a little over 2% by the airline industry.

Therefore, he recommends reducing food waste by shopping regularly and buying only what you need. Apart from minimising waste, ensure you divert food and garden waste from landfill to compost.

He explained that composting is “easy yet effective”, and it turns a waste product into something useful that you can use to enrich soil or grow organic vegetables.

Grow your own vegetables

Growing and eating seasonable herbs, salads and vegetables is a great way to pass a skill onto your kids, save money and learn to live in harmony with the natural cycle of nature.

There is no need to worry about air miles when you can dig spuds in your own back garden.

By investing in glass houses, you can extend the salad season to almost 12 months a year and allows you to serve up new potatoes for Christmas dinner.

Teach your children to choose the path less trodden

He said: “Actions speak louder than words, so reflect and make the green decision before mindlessly jumping on a zero-carbon tax flight to spend the weekend in Spain.”

“Do not default to opposing allocating road space to promote walking, cycling, and public transport.”

“Do not allow yourself to believe global warming is not happening or demand that someone changes their ways so you can continue as before.”

“Actions have consequences, and people must at least try to lead by example and speak up even when it is hard.”

Grow Irish Wildflower Seeds (biodiversity mix)

Lastly, encourage wildlife, especially bees, into your garden by dedicating a section of your garden or your locality to native Irish wildflowers.

He explained that not only does this support biodiversity, but it brings a “wonderful” splash of colour to your garden.

Furthermore, it saves on a “huge” amount of labour involved in cutting your lawn every week when a wildflower meadow will thrive and flower until well into the autumn.

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