An interview with Four Leaf Market Garden

We caught up with Michael Rauch & Alex Connolly from Four Leaf.

Tell us about Four Leaf and what you do there!

We run a small but intensive market garden on roughly 1/3 acre, focusing on leafy greens, herbs & tomatoes. This is our first season as professional growers so we are still very much trying to fine tune everything and see what works best. We focus on soil care and try to go beyond organic standards by following a no dig growing method.

What got you started?

We have always been massive foodies and loved spending time out in nature. After finishing our degrees we had a yearning for something a little different, and during a year away travelling in New Zealand we fell in love with sustainable growing and food production, so decided to make a shift towards trying to do that. Regenerative farming ticks a lot of boxes for us, and although this is only the small beginnings, we have the dream of being able to make a living producing integrity food which is top quality and good for the land.

What are you growing this summer?

Due to the small size of our current plot, we are mainly focusing on quick turnover crops. Lots of leafy greens (lettuce, mustard greens, chard, spinach etc.), herbs (such as coriander, parsley, basil), and a polytunnel full of tomatoes, cucumbers & peppers. We are also experimenting with micro-greens.

Is sustainability a consideration for you?

Sustainability is one of the biggest reason we decided to get into farming. Where we get our food from has such a massive potential to either harm or help the environment. A lot of traditional farming practices can be so damaging to the environment, but done the right way, farming has the potential to not just be sustainable but also improve soil health and regenerate land. There are some big issues with the global food system, and although we are slightly bias, we reckon that lots of small farms serving their local communities is the only way forward.

Which other food businesses or foodies do you want to give a shout out to?

Too many to name!

  • The walled garden at Helens Bay which is now run by Biruk of Hahu Organics – Many days spent volunteering there helped me take that first step into starting my own market garden.

  • Richard Perkins of Ridgedale Permaculture is one of the forefront regenerative farmers in Europe, and has been a massive source of inspiration and knowledge.

  • And all the other small integrity producers around Northern Ireland! There are more popping up all the time.