Ireland’s Organic Centre
It is a pleasure to drive through the Leitrim countryside. Departing from the wild atlantic one can drive inland along one of Ireland’s most scenic routes by the shores of spectacular Lough Melvin. Travelling out from the Donegal town of Bundoran via Kinlough and onto the R281 will finally bring you along to the quiet Leitrim countryside and one of Ireland’s loveliest environmental education centres.
The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim was established in 1995 as a non-profit making company with charitable status (CHY 11547). The centre is located on a 19 acres site in and operates from an ecologically designed building with a grass roof winning an award for “most appropriate building located in the countryside”.
The Organic Centre is where Ireland’s organic growers come to learn their trade. The aim of the centre is to provide training and education, information and demonstration of organic gardening, growing and sustainable living. The word Organic refers to a holistic approach to farming and food production. Organic growing encourages biodiversity on farms and in their surroundings. There is also an emphasis on maintaining the long-term fertility and biological activity of the soil and minimising pollution and waste. Through their working gardens, and other areas of demonstration, the Organic Centre provides an invaluable resource for education and training for both the public and specialist visitors.
Each year since it opened, the Centre has seen significant development. It is certainly an inspiring example of nature’s abundance and cutting edge knowledge of how to work in harmony with the environment. Among their many awards, they have received the Euro-Toques Award 2012 “For outstanding contribution to Irish Food through training and education” and have also been recognised by the Bridgestone and McKennas “Best in Ireland” award for many years.
Visitors to the centre can explore two unique demonstration gardens, the kitchen garden and the Robin’s garden which show a productive small-scale family garden and a community garden run by a group of 21 local people. In addition to this, are a range of 9 polytunnels showing protected cropping on both a domestic and commercial scale. So, whether you are an avid gardener, a lover of nature or curious about sourcing high quality ingredients, Rossinver offers plenty of insight and opportunity to gather practical knowledge. For the eco-conscious there are also compost display areas showing different methods of composting and recycling as well as the pioneering wetland sewage disposal system.
Families will enjoy the exciting willow sculpture area with is growing every year with new features added. In the orchard, there are 50 varieties of apples suited to the Irish climate and a soft fruit area where hardy varieties are being tested. There is also a native woodland to explore.
At present the centre provides over 100 short courses ranging from gardening, food production and healthy cooking to crafts and renewable energy. Participants come from all over Ireland and some from abroad. Our major events throughout the year are our Annual Potato Day in March, The Garden Party in July and our Harvest Festival and Apple Day in September.
The Organic Centre also has an Eco Shop which stocks garden organic seeds, tools, books, herb plants, seasonal vegetables and a range of organic and fair trade wholefoods. If you would like to visit the Organic Centre for an educational tour, pre-booking is advised. Participants can choose workshops about composting, propagation, protected cropping and organic food production. On site there is also the popular Grass Roof Café which is open at weekends for course participants and the public. It can also cater for groups by arrangement and can be hired for outside catering.
Just a short walk from the Organic centre, you can also enjoy Fowley’s falls, which is a waterfall accessed via a scenic and magical river walk.
The Organic Centre is open to the public 10am to 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday from March to October. For further information phone 071-98 54338, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.theorganiccentre.ie.