Look for Local Campaign - New Leaf Urban Farmers

A new campaign run by I Love Limerick in conjunction with LEO Limerick and Daniel Butler, Mayor of Limerick City and County, asks Limerick consumers to look for local when shopping for products, services and experiences.

New Leaf Urban Farmers is a small scale or micro-farm in Ballyneety, County Limerick, which uses Korean Natural Farming methods to produce high-quality crops within a small area of land – just 1.5 acres.

Despite this limited space, founder Kevin Wallace grows a host of crops, including ginger, artichokes, cucumbers and Japanese turnips, to restaurant-quality standards. The farm supplies several Limerick hotels, including the Limerick Strand Hotel’s River Restaurant.

This unique business began in 2016 when Mr Wallace noticed a shortage of vegetable farms in Limerick. He decided to establish an agribusiness that would benefit local health as well as the local economy. 

“The New Leaf Urban Farmers business model mainly serves the local hospitality sector, which is unique amongst farmers. Usually, farms sell to a bigger market through co-op’s,” explains Mr Wallace.  

The farm also operates a community vegetable box scheme, providing over 50 local families with fresh produce throughout the summer season, as an alternative to supermarket-bought vegetables. In addition, the Ballyneety business sells vegetables through Neighbour Foods, a local-produce store based in the Limerick Milk Market.

New Leaf Urban Farmers’ use of Korean Natural Farming brings biology into the growing process of vegetables, a practice still relatively obscure in Ireland. Using biology to alter the farm’s soil, Mr Wallace improves its quality and the nutritional value of produce. The farm also avoids tilling soil to reduce pest and disease levels. 

“Compared to supermarket produce, our vegetables are fresher and contain no chemicals. In Ireland, we have issues with obesity as well as our mental and physical health. Allergy levels have also gone through the roof,” says Mr Wallace. 

“Science suggests that these issues could be caused by the food we are eating and how processed it is. Highly processed food is not natural to us.”

New Leaf Urban Farmers is passionate about sourcing materials locally. The farm’s compost and woodchip are produced in the Ballyneety area, and fertilisers are made in-house at a very low cost. 

Alongside top Limerick chef, Tom Flavin, and microgreen farmer, Gavin Walsh, Mr Wallace’s next endeavour is to create a model micro-farm in Limerick city centre, to serve as both a tourist destination and educational facility. 

“As a model farm, schools and families could come and see how our food is grown, and then purchase or eat it in the on-site shop and restaurant. Limerick is changing, there is a lot of investment coming in, and the organic sector is very much on the rise,” Mr Wallace acknowledges.

Speaking from New Leaf Urban Farm, Mayor of Limerick City and County, Daniel Butler, says, “The Look for Local campaign is about supporting Limerick’s evolving local businesses. New Leaf Urban Farmers is an amazing local story that shows what the outcome can be for our health and the local economy when we do so. The impact of shopping local can be endless for our communities.” 

Watch full interview here!