I went on a sobering visit to a couple of our biggest field veg growers this week. Paul Brophy in Kildare, who is the largest grower of broccoli in the state, and the Weldon Brothers (Martin and Enda) in Swords ,who supply the majority of the Brussels sprouts crop. Their operations are truly impressive, and like most of the veg growers they have had to specialise and go large in order to compete. In the 15 years between 1999 and 2015 there was a huge drop in the number of field veg growers in Ireland, from 377 to 165. Anecdotally, the actual number remaining is likely to be less than this three years later, but there’s no data yet. Either way, that’s a pretty tiny number of growers who are responsible for our entire veg output. Interestingly, the output levels in edible horticulture haven’t dropped in that same time period, so in other words: the remaining growers have ramped up their production big time.

Commercial production