WIth Saint Patrick's Day being a big celebration in March the color of green seems to appear in all kinds of places across the globe along with Guinness beer and Irish cheese. A lot of wonderful things come from Ireland and that's why thousands of people flock to this small country (an island) to experience a country that still remains a bit remote in places and yet progresses with each day to keep up with the high tech 21st century, So between the family run farms in the serene countryside to the bustling streets of Dublin where life moves relatively fast there's a little of something for everyone who wants to visit the emerald island known as IRELAND.
I've had the fortune of making two trips to Ireland. The first trip was a mini vacation and the second trip was a three month volunteer stint where I worked six days a week on an eco-friendly organic farm called SUNRISE FARM in County Clare, Ireland. Thanks to a site called WWOOF which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms I was able to contact the caretaker of Sunrise Farm who invited me to volunteer on her farm in exchange for room and board. The next step was to find an affordable flight to Dublin and off I was to Ireland in September.
My first day in Ireland was spent in Dublin where I checked into a hostel. It was a very simple place but the staff was super friendly and they even gave me a free ticket for a Dublin walking tour. It didn't take me long to learn my way around Dublin after that terrific tour.
The following day I had a complimentary breakfast of butter toast, and tea at the hostel before embarking on my journey to Sunrise Farm in County Clare. The bus ride rewarded me with scenes of the lovely Irish countryside with stops in small cities and towns before finally arriving at my destination. Little did I know when I met Did (the caretaker who runs the farm) just how hard I'd be working the next few months but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Sunrise Farm grows and produces some of the best fruits and vegetables in all of Ireland. I learned so much about composting, crop rotation, and planting while serving as a volunteer. The benefit to working from mid September to early November was that I got to share the farm with only a few volunteers. We had to work harder but the perk was having a whole room to myself just off the kitchen of the newly restored cozy Irish house and generous portions of delicious pure food everyday.
Sunrise Farm in County Clare
I did everything from cooking to wood chopping on Sunrise Farm. Twice a week I helped out in the Sunrise Bakery and Kitchen where Didi (the caretaker) and I prepared dishes to sell at the weekly farmers market in Killaloe on the Shannon River. We often used the local ingredients from Sunrise Farm in our baking and cooking; such as apples, beets, carrots, chard, kale, potatoes and salad. Each Sunday we would make our way to Killaloe Farmers Market and set our table with the other vendors. It was a lot of fun to sell our goods and meet with other local Irish people who sold items from handmade soaps to fruit jams.
Although there were no cows, horses, pigs, or sheep on Sunrise Farm there were plenty of sweet cats and two dogs named Diamond and Grace who became my best friends. Sunrise Farm was and still is a vegetarian farm and volunteers don't consume any meat products during their time on the farm.
The beauty of the land surrounding Sunrise Farm is something I cherished every moment. I loved my daily walks along the country roads with the dogs and cycling to the nearby lake for a quick cold swim. We had a small meditation room on the property where we meditated in silence and later chanted some spiritual songs. We also offered open yoga classes a few times a week for people wanting to practice yoga. Everyone took turns with cooking and washing dishes for our staff meals which were always so creative and tasty. The best part was sitting in the cozy kitchen near the wood burning stove and relaxing a bit. There was a larger dining room in the house if we had extra volunteers or guests who wanted to come for a meal.
The Sunrise Farm is going to be a healing center in the near future so more volunteers will be needed to run this extraordinary place which in my opinion is one of the best farms in all of Ireland.
Please join me for my next post as I focus on all the great places to visit while in IRELAND and share some recipes from beautiful SUNRISE FARM. In the meantime I'm going to nibble on some biscuits and sip some Irish tea as I brainstorm on my next post which will focus on Dingle Peninsula, Dublin, Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry and more......
See you soon!
Irish Soda Bread with Butter; PURE IRISH