Last week we launched our Genuinely Green series and started to explore venues in Ireland and what they do for the environment. This week we look down to a very famous corner in Co. Cork – Ballymaloe House, Cookery School and Farm run by the Allen family.
Ballymaloe have sustainability at the heart of everything they do. They try to be as self-sufficient as possible by growing most of their produce on site in the farm and working closely with local producers. They keep 400 wild hens for their eggs, maintain a sounder of pigs for their pork, produce their own soap and spread washed-up seaweed on their crops.
Ballymaloe’s biggest feat however, is their completely self-sustaining heating system created by Rory & Darren Allen, the farming side of the family, which they installed in 1984. A biomass boiler has heated all of the house and water since then. In 2004 they improved this further with a more efficient system which is currently heating approximately 150 radiators, 260sq meters of underfloor heating, enough hot water for 60 bedrooms and kitchen hot water for 160 covers. This system is saving 800 litres of oil a day. The fuel used is a mixture of 80% rape straw and 20% recycled wood chips.
The rape straw is grown on the farm and after the crop is harvested the waste residue straw in the fields is picked with a silage harvester, chopped and stored in a farm shed. So last year’s crop heats the house with no significant costs involved – just the cost of labour. The wood chip comes from a local recycling plant which happens to be located within a mile of Ballymaloe. The waste ash from the boiler gets spread on the land as a fertiliser to grow the next year’s crops. At every opportunity, the Allen family are looking to recycle. Additionally the water for the house is pumped from under the sandstone hill at the back of the house – it is so pure and clean it doesn’t need to be treated in any way.
At Ovation Ireland we use Ballymaloe in a number of capacities: we offer tours of the farm, hold cookery classes and manage high-end events in their many function spaces. These main two spaces being the Grainstore (a converted barn into stunning event space) and Ballymaloe house itself. Their sustainability policies are in line with our own and with many of our clients making them one of the best venues in the country in terms of sustainability.
To find out more about the sustainable venues please contact Caoimhe and don’t forget to drop back in next week as we reveal another sustainable venue.