“Our standards are very high. We want every consumer to know that the fruit they are eating is fully traceable, high quality and a healthy product.”
The Kearns Fruit Farm was established over forty years ago, originally started by Pat Kearns, growing fruit for jam production and canning back in the 1950’s. Today, the family farm is run by Jimmy Kearns, wife Susan, son Noel, daughter Patricia and son-in-law Damien Fitzhenry.
Based in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, the Kearns Fruit Farm is comprised of forty acres of greenhouses. These are not your average greenhouses though, all of the fruit plants are grown using hydroponics. This means that instead of using soil, the plants grow in nutrient enriched water.
The Kearns Fruit Farm is Bord Bia quality approved and all of the produce grown is guaranteed 100% Irish and are members of Guaranteed Irish and Good Food Ireland.
On the farm, the Kearns family grows strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. In fact, Kearns Fruit Farm is one of the largest strawberry producing farms in Ireland, supplying soft fruit for various retailers throughout Ireland.
Starting in December, strawberry seeds are sown in large sets every four weeks and harvest begins around the 28th of March. Staggering the seed sowing process allows the strawberries to be picked continuously throughout the year until mid-November.
Raspberry and Blackberry seeds are planted in two stages. The first set of planting takes place in January harvest begins in June and second set of planting happens in April with harvesting starting in July. Raspberry and Blackberry harvest finishes up in October.
All of the strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are hand-picked when they are ripe by professional berry pickers. The berry pickers are trained to pick the fruit by its stem so as to not directly touch the fruit. Additionally, since all the fruit are grown hydroponically in hanging rows, the fruit hangs off the sides where berry pickers are easily able to collect the fruit standing up and are free from any debris (like soil or dirt) touching them.
Produce can be purchased in national supermarket chains or directly from the farm outside Enniscorthy. All visitors are welcome and fresh produce is available from April onwards.
The Kearns Fruit Farm implements a variety of practices to maintain sustainable and environmentally friendly methods of fruit production. One of these methods is the use of biomass to heat the greenhouses on the farm.
All of the rainwater that falls on top of the greenhouses are collected and reused in other growing areas on the farm.
The water that is used on the fruit is of drinking quality and is analysed by a third party. This ensures the water is pure and free from any pollutants.
Jimmy implements biological controls for any pests that might be present.
Every day and week brings something new to the farm and the Kearns Fruit Farm is always looking into new technology and varieties of plants to become even more efficient and sustainable.
“I think it’s any person's dream to pass the farm along to their children. I hope that my son, daughter or son-in-law continues the tradition of growing and providing fresh, quality fruit to the people of Ireland.”