Greenhill fruit farm are a family based company in Enniscorthy, Wexford with over 23 years’ experience.
‘When you bite in to a Greenhill strawberry you say I can’t buy that anywhere else’ Eamonn Creane (owner of Greenhill fruit farm)
‘The Ferrycarrig have been very good and put our name on the menu to show where the fruit is coming from and that it’s not falling from the sky' says Eamonn.
Eamon brought me on a tour of his farm. They sell fruit in 11 counties in Ireland.
A bit of History…
Eamonn is 42 he started buying and selling fruit at the age of 17.
‘A Dairy farmers son on 30 pounds a week wasn’t enough to have fun, you know what they say; money won’t buy you love but it will buy you a nice car to drive around and look for love’
In the last 5 years they have taken on a number of hotels and Ferrycarrig were delighted to be the first hotel that started serving their fruit.
Why did you decide to start growing your own strawberries?
‘I needed top quality fruit’ so in 2003 Eamonn started to grow his own fruit for sale. Eamonn and his brother divided their 7 acres leaving Eamonn with 3.5 acres for fruit growing. Now he grows fruit in over 20 acres.
Half the fruit comes from Hydroponics, (Hydroponics in its simplest form is growing plants in a "medium" by supplying all the necessary nutrients in the plants "water" rather than in the soil.) but what makes Greenhill fruit farm different is they do a lot of soil growing fruit which is what Wexford became famous for. Greenhill fruit farm is one of the last remaining soil growing commercial farms in Ireland.
What type of fruit is grown here?
‘We grow raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, blueberries and of course our famous strawberries’
What makes Wexford the best county for strawberries?
‘We have extremely good soil that suits strawberry growing. We are in the sunniest and brightest part of the country, which gives more daylight hours to the fruit. Fruit then performs better. We originally became famous for growing strawberries. Every family in Wexford was reared on strawberries. Wexford does a lot of road side selling so there are signs all over the country advertising Wexford strawberries.’
What's the difference between strawberries in a supermarket and strwberries in Ferrycarrig Hotel?
’Flavour is the biggest difference between supermarket strawberries and the strawberries that you get in the Ferrycarrig hotel which are all soil grown. Soil grown strawberries are juicer and filled with flavour.’
How many people do you have working here on Greenhill fruit farm?
In the peak season there are 120 people working altogether. This takes a lot of organising as well as taking down huge tunnels for the soil growing strawberries and putting them back up again. This is to protect the fruit. It’s very specialised.
Fruit farms are family orientated. Whether you are 16 years of age or 56 years of age everyone is involved. You always have to work hard when it comes to fruit farms, so you could be finished at 5pm or 5am.
What does it take to be a fruit farmer?
‘A high quality fruit farm is the exact same as the hotel business. It takes the same team building as running a hotel. The manager hasn’t time to change beds but he needs to make sure someone is doing it’
‘We’re flying a really big flag for Wexford with our soil grown strawberries’ says Eamonn
How do you stay at the top of your game?
‘Passion! Passion is driven by road side sales, which is driven by information constantly being fed back; we constantly need to be at the top of our game and performing’
Talk us through this blanket we see on the blackberries…
Blackberries have been sowed and are just about to flower; they are covered with a fleece blanket in the tunnel. This will help the bees in to naturally pollinate them. They are covered for heat purposes so the weather can’t hurt them and push back their progress.
‘Our taste a difference range are crack a black blackberries'.
How many strawberry crops would you grow at one time?
‘We grow around 8 different crops of strawberries, so we have fruit constantly’
There is a great sound of the bees buzzing in the raspberry tent…
‘Bees love the flowers on raspberries because there so sweet’
Who looks after the plants?
Illian is the head grower; he spends all day checking the fruits.
A computer will measure the day light. Illian told us all berries need a different environment to grow. He is responsible for all of the fruits. Weather is everything! One degree up or down will affect the fruit.
After the strawberries aare picked they are cooled for 40 minutes to lock in the flavour. They are then brought in to the pack house and packed up and delivered to Ferrycarrig Hotel.
‘Our fruit needs 1200 growing hours in low temperatures which is from 6 degrees down, but if we get -5 for a week it will kill the plants, we don’t want that’
Greenhill fruit farm have been supplying to Ferrycarrig hotel for 6 years.
‘We always bring Tony top quality products and he needs to know that he will always get the best from us, it’s a circle of trust’ Eamonn Creane.
‘’Here in Ferrycarrig Hotel and Reeds Restaurant we are delighted to be working with fantastic local producers around Wexford delivering great food from great people. With our unique location we guarantee a superb experience at Reeds restaurant where perfect taste flows’’ Derek Coyne (General Manager Ferrycarrig Hotel)