Plot to plate ethos from a charming Kilkenny kitchen yard

When Olivia Goodwillie and her partner Roger acquired a charming old farmhouse in rural Co Kilkenny back in the 1970s with the goal of turning it into a analyze centre for innovative living, it was the commencing of a journey that led to them becoming pioneers of the sustainability motion in Eire.


Their property, Lavistown House, a handsome Georgian creating near the banks of the River Nore, before long became recognized for its great array of inspirational, innovative workshops on arts, crafts, cooking, gardening and foraging though the delectable produce from its .2 hectare walled kitchen area yard and 5 hectare farm led to the few developing their parallel company as little-scale, award-profitable farmhouse cheesemakers and sausage producers.

As incredibly early advocates of organic and natural gardening and champions of seasonality and the plot-to-plate ethos that is considering that develop into mainstream, it is truthful to say that the Goodwillies also assisted to start off a dialogue about Ireland’s food culture that led to its subsequent transformation.

Goodwillie’s have deep-rooted adore of seasonal cooking arrives with the type of eco-friendly-fingered qualifications earned by a life time of gardening and rising

“It’s so difficult to describe to more youthful generations how incredibly unique – how completely reworked – it is now in comparison with what it was like back again in the 1970s when components that are now commonplace, one thing like garlic, for case in point, were being so unusual that they were being regarded with deep suspicion . I constantly laughingly say that we no more time complain about someone’s breath smelling of garlic for the reason that everyone’s breath smells of garlic these times. We’ve just stopped noticing it.”

Whether or not they’re increasing it or cooking it, good, healthful, healthy, delicious foods has constantly been at the centre of the couple’s lifestyle and their function at Lavistown, anything that led Olivia to produce two great cookery guides, the next of which she’s just self-published this month.

Named Some thing in the Basket: Vegetable recipes from the backyard at Lavistown, it is a amazing compendium of mouth-watering recipes and hands-on, sensible cookery strategies on how to make comprehensive, tasty use of seasonal develop from an Irish kitchen garden or allotment. An included bonus are the pretty charming watercolours that Goodwillie commissioned from her good friend the Wexford-based mostly artist Anne McCleod, which she’s utilised to generously illustrate the e-book.


“So numerous of the folks who’ve appear to the workshops at Lavistown in excess of the several years held pushing me to acquire my recipes in book variety and the reception to my initial ebook [Something in the Tin, her bestselling collection of baking recipes] was so positive that a second on vegetable cooking felt pretty all-natural. I started off creating it 7 a long time ago, but it took the lockdowns of 2020 for me to eventually finish tweaking and fantastic-tuning it prior to pulling it all jointly.

Roger Goodwillie, Olivia Goodwillie and Anne McLeod in the gardens of Lavistown House, Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan
Roger Goodwillie, Olivia Goodwillie and Anne McLeod in the gardens of Lavistown Residence, Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

“As each and every vegetable came into period more than the training course of final calendar year, I was equipped to wholly immerse myself in it, in researching it and then picking the really best of my recipes – I have gathered so numerous above the years – exactly where it’s utilized as a key component.

“It’s also really significant to say that each solitary vegetable in the ebook [it includes recipes for 26 different kinds] is one that we grow below at Lavistown, from aubergines and asparagus to cabbage, carrots and cauliflower. So this is a book that is incredibly substantially composed with Irish expanding situations in mind.”

Describing her type of cookery creating as “straightforward, simple and very simple to follow”, Goodwillie’s personal deep-rooted love of seasonal cooking arrives with the type of eco-friendly-fingered credentials earned by a life time of gardening and growing. So there are recipes for griddled squash steaks, kale tabbouleh, curried parsnip soup, cauliflower dahl, Christmas pink cabbage and Tuscan cabbage soup – “Who understood stale bread and cabbage could style so very good?” – as effectively as fantastic suggestions on larder staples and solutions as to other culinary choices to go after.

For illustration, along with recipes for carrot fritters with feta cheese and for fermented carrots, she also implies employing carrots to make kimchi or grated raw in a salad alongside with toasted seeds and raisins. Likewise, along with a recipe for glazed beetroot with blue cheese, there are recommendations on working with it to make the typical Ukrainian soup acknowledged as borscht, as perfectly as to make beetroot muffins, beetroot and blood orange salad, beetroot smoothie and beetroot and coconut soup.

“I genuinely want to give readers a sense of how useful, versatile and delightful these greens are and with any luck , get started them off on their personal very little voyage of investigate and discovery.”

Even with her have wonderful really like of meals growing, Olivia describes Roger as “the serious grower, somebody who so enjoys to get his fingers in the soil that he thinks it’s terribly uncomplicated to mature your possess foods when in reality it is not.

Something in the Basket: Vegetable recipes from the garden at Lavistown, is available at, €19.99 inc P&P
Some thing in the Basket: Vegetable recipes from the yard at Lavistown, is available at, €19.99 inc P&P

“You have to have lots of passion, dedication and a deep love of growing to be a excellent kitchen gardener. Knowledge also … around the 45 several years that we have tended Lavistown’s walled kitchen back garden, we have produced a lot of issues and uncovered so a great deal along the way how to get superior at it. ”

On the web resources

Goodwillie believes that the learning method has been produced much less complicated with the introduction of the internet and the availability of so lots of good on the web assets for kitchen gardeners.

“One illustration is Inexperienced Highway Gardens in Fethard, Co Wexford, whose owner Irene Kelly has designed a fantastic series of online videos wherever she shares her information and techniques so generously. Organisations this sort of as GIY are a further good way to meet like-minded people delighted to share their expertise and skills,” she states.

“I’m a member of the Graiguenamanagh GIY team, a wonderful bunch of individuals. Local community gardens and allotment teams are but a further fantastic way to get growing. I have not long ago turn out to be included in the establishment of a new group allotment backyard in Thomastown where by the program is to ultimately have up to 30 tiny allotments obtainable to nearby men and women to use to grow their individual food items.”

They proceed to deal with its active farm and to lovingly tend its walled kitchen yard

Faculty sweethearts who satisfied at Trinity the place they both studied botany, Goodwillie suggests even as a young pair they ended up the two painfully mindful of the simple fact that “Earth is a earth of restricted, dwindling means.

“It was one of the factors that determined us to go from Dublin to Lavistown so that we could guide a a lot more sustainable, self-enough daily life.”

They no more time reside in Lavistown House by itself, possessing moved into its transformed steady-block in 2013 to allow their daughter Claire, her backyard garden-designer spouse Des Doyle and their small children acquire up home in the main house. But they carry on to handle its chaotic farm and to lovingly tend its walled kitchen backyard, sharing the joy of its delectable homegrown deliver amongst the three generations. Even now in late November, they are even now taking in a wide array of greens from it like leeks, onions, potatoes, cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, pumpkins and squash.

“It took time to master and hone our skills but we’re now 100 for each cent reliant on our backyard garden all through the calendar year for all of our vegetables. I’m seriously very pleased of that.”

Anything in the Basket: Vegetable recipes from the backyard garden at Lavistown, is available at, €19.99 inc P&P.

This 7 days in the Yard

Late November, early December is an outstanding time of the yr to plant grape vines as effectively as to prune founded vines utilizing the rod and spur pruning strategy to maximise their productivity and maintain the crops from turning into far too massive and unruly.

These heat-loving vegetation need a absolutely free-draining, fertile but not overly-rich soil and typically have to have the shelter of a glasshouse, polytunnel or conservatory to be reliably productive in Eire. As their root units also need to have a period of time of wintertime chilling, they need to be planted with their roots just outside the construction but with the vine by itself increasing inside of the covered composition.

Alternatively, grape vines will do pretty perfectly in a huge pot or container as extensive as the plants are pruned really hard and trained as expectations/cordons or “umbrellas” on to small supports (in depth recommendations for all of these pruning procedures can be found on the site of the RHS, kingdom). But make confident to shift the pot/ container outdoors all through winter prior to transferring it again below cover in early spring.

Late November, early December is an excellent time of the year to plant grape vines as well as to prune established vines
Late November, early December is an excellent time of the 12 months to plant grape vines as perfectly as to prune established vines

November is also a fantastic time to plant roses both as potted or bare-root specimens. But make certain to decide on a appropriate internet site with a fertile soil in comprehensive solar and to get ready the ground appropriately in advance by digging it over, clearing it of weeds and large stones, and integrating some nicely-rotted manure or do-it-yourself back garden compost into the soil as very well as into the foundation of the planting gap.

Some gardeners also swear by mycorrhizal fungi (a biostimulant out there from most great backyard centres as nicely as on the net suppliers as industrial merchandise these kinds of as Rootgrow and David Austin Mycorrhizal Fungi), which can be frivolously sprinkled over the plant’s root system and planting gap in advance of backfilling with soil. If the floor is frozen or pretty moist, normally postpone planting roses right up until problems strengthen.

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