The Malone family have green fingers. Their fruit farm in Closh, a stone’s throw from Ballon, has been carefully cultivated by three generations of Malones, starting with Tom and Elizabeth in 1983.
What began as a novel way of motivating their seven children into some summer work is now a successful horticulture business, whose products are beloved by Carlow consumers and stocked in shops around the country.
Tom and Elizabeth’s son James, who runs the farm today, cultivates strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, and rhubarb – and he says they’re now even trialling grapes.
‘We make our own jams, chutneys, jellies, and marmalades. We’re growing, processing, producing, and selling direct to the customers all from the one location,’ says James. ‘Direct contact with the customer is one of our main focuses.’
James says that consumer interest in their food’s provenance and cultivation is increasing. Carlow people want to eat food produced in the county or elsewhere in Ireland.
‘Visitors who come to the fruit farm can look around, see our farm, and see where the crops are growing. Then they can come into our shop and purchase products directly from the farm,’ he says.
Key to the success of the Malone Fruit Farm has been the support of other local producers, whose products are stocked in the farm shop ‘We’re always on the lookout for other products based in Carlow,’ says James, and the Carlow Farmers’ Market, which the family have attended every Saturday for the last 15 years. James says the market has been growing ‘from strength to strength’.
Underlying all of this is Carlow’s growing food culture. People are willing to experiment with new foods and eager to support local producers.
‘Our farm would be proactive in promoting local food, to encourage people to shop locally and discover the provenance of your food,’ says James.
With James’s young children already learning the tricks of the trade, the Malone Fruit Farm looks set to be a fixture of Carlow community and cuisine for many years to come.
“We’re always on the lookout for other products based in Carlow.”“Visitors who come to the fruit farm can look around, see our farm, and see where the crops are growing”
“We’re always on the lookout for other products based in Carlow.”
“Visitors who come to the fruit farm can look around, see our farm, and see where the crops are growing”