Our open plan kitchen and dining room, with its wonderful views over Croagh Patrick, is at the centre of our home and likewise the centre of our retreats and courses at Macalla Farm. All meals are prepared and eaten here. At different times of the year, the kitchen becomes a hive of activity as we transform our surplus fruits and vegetables into jams and chutneys, fermented pickles and kimchis. We make elderflower champagne, various cordials and mead from our honey. At all times of the year, we make our famous sour dough bread and are keen to pass on the skill (and starters).

We have been vegetarian for more than 30 years and have evolved a style of cooking which is simple yet creative. We have been running vegetarian cooking courses in our kitchen since 2004, often having students help harvest ingredients for their meal, highlighting the connection between soil and food and health. Those who come to our food courses are not necessarily vegetarian and we are happy to show by example how to incorporate healthy ways of eating into one’s diet. Recently, we have introduced elements of mindfulness to our food courses.

With so much conflicting advice given in the media about food, we believe that eating healthy food should never be a burden nor a matter of following complex chemical formulae. First and foremost, our food must be delicious, easy to prepare and real, not processed. While the local and seasonal catchphrase is used everywhere these days, our menus could not be more local nor more seasonal. The challenge for many is to rediscover their tastebuds, to find a playfulness in experimenting with flavours, becoming acquainted, perhaps for the first time, with the qualities of real food.