• Cyril McAree

Kelly's Resort Unveils New Kitchen Garden

4-Star Kelly’s Resort Hotel & Spa in Rosslare, Co Wexford has become something of a national treasure. Renowned for its family-friendly feel and exciting events calendar, the award-winning hotel is also leading the way in sustainable tourism, and have just reaped the benefits of its hard labour with an impressive first crop from the new Kelly’s Kitchen Garden’s. Located on two sites, Kelly's Kitchen Gardens are both very different to one another. The most advanced kitchen garden to date is located in an old overgrown semi-walled garden, which has been transformed but keeping the old garden structure. The farmyard at this site has also been transformed, with two large polytunnels, one for cropping and the other for plant propagation. The second Kitchen Garden location is at Kelly's Resort just behind the new Multi Use Sports Arena, which was a green field site. Kelly’s have kept the design very simple, keeping in mind elements such as sunlight, shelter, shade and soil type which determined the polytunnel location, utility area and cropping areas etc. There is a pedestrian pathway running through the garden so hotel guests can take a stroll, enjoy the gardens tranquillity while watching their food grow.

Kelly’s Kitchen Gardens have been a welcome addition to the stunning grounds one which Bill says will enhance the customer experience. “People are now more health conscious and dietary requirements have changed over the years. Guests are demanding fresher food that has been sourced locally, and hotels across the country are now creating gardens and small farms to grow their own herbs and vegetables. As we feel strongly about locally sourced produce, we are now committing to growing our very own ingredients. We have over 3 acres and 4 large polytunnels been developed for the kitchen alone, this is not just ‘lip service’. It will allow us to create a food path, which is truly in tune with the season and a million miles away from global methods of industrial food production.” Deirdre Howlin is Kelly Resort Hotel’s Head Gardener. With an impressive horticultural background and holding a BSc honours in Horticulture, Deirdre is a bundle of energy, having run her own Grange Green Plant centre and co-owned and managed the Tower Escargot Snail Farm. Deirdre works full-time with Bill and Kelly’s Executive Chef, Eugene Callaghan, on the different varieties of seasonal vegetables ensuring the hotel gets maximum yields from the ground, while giving back to the land at the same time. “Our aim is to supply the Kelly’s Hotel with fresh, naturally grown produce. This will reduce the need to transport some of the food used by the Kelly’s Hotel. We are also using the waste food, grass clipping, leaf mould and use coffee grinds to make compost thus giving back the soil that feeds us. We have already seen an increase in the amount of bees in the Kitchen Gardens. As well as fruit and vegetables, we have incorporated many flowering perennials; these have been planted in drifts of colour making the flowers more visible to the bees. Many of the flowers selected have single flowers, which produce more pollen. In the future who know we may even have our own bees on site” said Deirdre Howlin.

Kelly’s gardeners have just started cropping and for the summer season, producing a variety of lettuce, salad leaves (rocket, mizuna, mustard, spinach, kale), tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, red cabbage, pak choi, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, salsify, white turnip, onions, scallions etc. They also have a selection of herbs parsley, rosemary, chives, oregano, marjoram, sage, lemon balm, fennel and dill. Autumn\Winter crops will include leeks, onions, cauliflower, broccoli and some indoor produced winter salads.

Some unique features include two Geodome polytunnels located at Kelly’s Kitchen Garden at hotel site. These will feature novelty plants such as succulents, cacti, and touch sensitive plants as well as fruiting plants. The aim here is to show guests how wonderful nature can be. Novelty plants are a great introduction to nature for many kids, thus getting them interested in the natural world. The gardens themselves will be unique in their layout and the variety of fruit herbs and vegetables that will be on display.

The vegetable garden project is part of the hotel’s overall environmental programme, which promotes local growing as ‘less polluting, low energy and low carbon’. This has always been on top of Bill’s project agendas, in keeping with the natural progression of the hotel’s history.

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