“My father used to say, ‘If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well’. Our mantra here is try and produce the best tasting tomatoes as possible. We do not compromise on flavour.” -Matt Foley
Kilbush Nurseries is located in North Hill, Kenure, Rush, Co. Dublin and are owned by two brothers, Matt and John Foley.
Originally started as a single acre glasshouse in 1940 by father, Matthew Foley senior, sons Matt and John currently grow tomatoes in three hectares (7.4 acres) of greenhouses. By adopting new technologies, production of tomatoes per square metre has increased by over two hundred and fifty percent in the past twenty five years.
In the early years, a crop of fifty tons per acre was the norm, however today, the brothers are producing crops of over two hundred and fifty tonnes!
Throughout the production cycle, Kilbush Nurseries conform to the Bord Bia requirements and have been awarded the Bord Bia Best Protected Crops Grower on a number of occasions.
The main type of tomato that is grown at Kilbush Nurseries are vine tomatoes. In addition to the vine tomatoes, brothers Matt and John grow mini plum tomatoes. Their focus is producing the best tasting tomatoes possible. To ensure maximum flavour, all tomatoes are hand-picked when they are ripe.
Tomato seeds are sown towards the end of October and harvested starting mid March (around St. Patrick’s Day). Harvesting all the varieties of tomatoes typically ends around November.
Considered a fruit, tomatoes are regarded as a superfood due to all of its beneficial nutrients.
Kilbush Nurseries tomatoes are sold in Tesco, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, and a range of local Rush green grocers. Look for the tomato-head brothers on the packaging.
Kilbush Nurseries practice a multitude of innovative methods to ensure the most environmentally friendly growing practices.
Any waste water generated by the irrigation system is captured and reused again, and the farm implements natural pollinators such as bumblebees.
In addition to the bumblebees, there are a diverse number of different insects that can be found on-site including wasps, beneficial insects and spiders; all together in harmony. It has always been their policy to use natural methods to control any pests on the grounds.
Interestingly tomatoes are not the only things supplied to the surrounding community. The farm also generates electricity to the nearby surrounding homes.
The heat produced from the electricity generation is recovered and used to heat the greenhouses (this is known as recoverable heat). Additionally, the Co2 emissions from this process are captured, run through a scrubber and are fed back to the plants. Each year, Kilbush Nurseries undergo an independent audit and because they achieve such high rates of efficiency as a result of their growing practices, they are exempt from carbon tax.
All environmental systems on the farm are run and monitored through computers. This allows for accurate and concise readings (such as temperature and humidity) and the efficient operation of the farm.
The future for the Foley brothers includes further research into new heat pumps for the farm and hopefully passing on the farm to the next generation of family.
“Our heating for the glasshouses is supplied by one of the most modern and efficient combined heat and power units in the country. We supply electricity to nearly ten thousand homes locally. We harvest the Co2 and supply it to the plants, reducing the amount that would normally be released to the environment. In fact our heating plant is so efficient that we received the ‘Innovation Award’ at the sustainable Ireland awards 2014. The design of our plant offers a blueprint for any similar projects in the sector.”
- John Foley