Tired of the relentless treadmill of London life, Fiona and Malcolm Falconer sat their small family around their kitchen table, stuck a pin in a map of Ireland and decided to change their lives forever. The pin landed in Gorey.
So they threw the kids in the back of the car, hopped on a ferry and bought a five-acre field. “We built a passive house, that’s where the ecology ripple started, we set an acre aside as a forage forest for the kids, to acclimatize them to rural life. We planted every conceivable herb, fruit and berry, cultivating a lot from local wild stocks. It is a wonderful sensual haven; five years in, we got the mother of all harvests and thought, ‘What on earth are we going to do with all this stuff?’ So we started making jams and chutneys and Wild about was born.”
Today, Wild about boasts over 20 Great Taste Awards, Blas na hEireann (Irish Food Awards) Gold and Silver awards for their seasonal range of chutneys, preserves, dressings, oils, syrups and raw foods, made by hand from produce grown on their organic permaculture farm.
“Permaculture is like organics, but it goes a little further. It’s about environmental sustainability, clean food, but also about heritage, tradition, looking after your immediate environment and those around you. We don’t use chemicals on our land or in our kitchen, we don’t import, our products are sustainable, low in sugar, gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. We specialise in native wild ingredients, Ireland’s own superfoods, hosting Ireland’s first commercial nettle farm, where we grow nettles from seed in polytunnels for our nettle pestos, syrups and our new Sparkling Nettle Drink, a refreshing non-alcoholic nettle infusion.”
A walk around the gardens reflects Fiona and Malcolm’s enthusiasm for nature, everything from nettles, elders, haws, rosehips, meadowsweet, blackcurrants, raspberries, strawberries, courgettes, beetroots, garlic, onions, nasturtiums, fennel, rocket, Amish paste tomatoes, and Bolivian hairy chillies, heirloom varieties used for their Wexford Chutney.
“Ireland has the most incredible ground source and here in North Wexford we have the perfect climate. Even in this tiny area around the farm, we have the most incredible innovation from local food producers such as Macamore Buffalo. At the bottom of our road is Isle of Crackers, who make the most delicious flaxseed crackers. A little further down is Meadowfield Goat’s Farm who create the most incredible goats’ cheese and milk from their herd.
“Wild about is a reflection of who we are, our belief in ethical agriculture, ecology and safeguarding our environment. We believe we have the best ground source, right here, right now, to produce food of exceptional quality, ethically and sustainably engaging the consumer to think about what we put in our mouth and where it comes from. We are a very small family run business, we supply Ardkeen Stores, Fallon & Byrne, and over 30 SuperValu stores in Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford. Aer Lingus serve Wild about Syrup as their first-class Signature Cocktail on all transatlantic flights and our products are served in the Dáil Éireann restaurant. Our market stall is the beating heart of our business, we trade at food festivals around the country and every Sunday at the People’s Park Farmers’ Market in Dun Laoghaire.
“We’ve won many awards, Good Food Ireland Producer of the Year and All Ireland Farmers Market Champions and, most recently, Local Food Hero for Wexford.” Fiona also won the Leinster title! “We want ‘Wild about’ to reflect our integrity, providence and commitment to the environment through great tasting, locally produced food.”
Interview: Deirdre O’Flynn