In the run up to the release of our 3rd issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal, and our very first print edition on December 14th, we are taking a look back at some of the Irish food champions who have filled the pages of our previous issues.
Charles Smith’s family have been farming the land in Longfield, Virginia, County Cavan since the 1700s. The present day farm includes dairy and beef livestock but in the long history of the farm poultry farming is a relatively new development for Charles and his brother John. When their parents got married in 1966 their mother, Bernie, brought
a tradition of raising turkeys for Christmas to the farm. This soon expanded to a supply for Easter and then an all-year-round business which included chickens.
When the brothers took over the farm the initial small holding of 50 acres grew and their farming business expanded. But even still they had a limited amount of space so it was only natural that the two brothers would expand into poultry as it is less land intensive. They were also keen to continue the tradition of free range poultry raring that they’d grown up with. The farm was the first in the State to apply for a free range licence but sometimes all the extra effort they put in is lost in the mainstream. They got together with other farmers and created the Farmers to Market group to highlight the greater effort they make in raising their chickens.
There are twelve famers in total, made up of ten families as there are two sets of brothers, many have been farming the land for as long as the Smith family. It is a well known adage that things are cheap for a reason but time and effort deliver greater taste and flavour. This is certainly the case with the Hubbard bird which Charles Smith explains grows more slowly giving a better quality bird. Almost uniquely for the sector Charles feeds the birds twice a day, they don’t have access to feed all the time, just in the morning and the afternoon, the rest of the time they are free to roam the field which surrounds their sheds.
The lights go out at night time too, for a proper rest instead of leaving the lights on to encourage further feeding and faster growth. The sheds are specifiably built with an eye for the comfort of the birds, positioned in the middle of a field, with green grass all the way around, so they have full access to the open air all day. Charles’ attention to the detail of the poultry’s life cycle is a mark of a man who believes in quality and integrity, his farm is a happy marriage of modern knowledge with the best of our traditional farming culture.
Farmers To Market, Longfield, Virginia, Co Cavan, 353 (0) 46 928 6644.