The best sustainable beekeeping and gardening courses

People are recognizing the vital connection between health, agriculture and our environment. At the Dunmore Country school we will help you to grow tasty vegetables in a sustainable, intensive and cost-effective way.

Our kitchen garden on a one acre plot, with a polytunnel and is based on the traditional French "potager", or country garden.
We produce and preserve almost all of the vegetables and herbs that we need for the year and we use flowers as part of our rotation system which is both beautiful and practical.

Won't it take a lot of time?

When people come to talk to us about starting a garden, they often say " but it will take a lot of time", or " how will I control the weeds without spraying". We have devised a simple, workable system of gardening, the secret of which is to start small and get used to the techniques and reap the rewards and only then increase the size of the plot. Our system shows you how to make the best use of a small piece of ground and sow vegetables in a way that needs minimum amount of weeding. We will even show you how to make weeding easy, using simple mulching techniques.

Eating your own food

The main reason for starting a garden is to enjoy your own healthy, tasty vegetables. Tanguy will be happy to share with you his tips for cooking and preparing your vegetables.

Gardening courses

We have set up a working kitchen garden on one acre with a polytunnel. You will learn how to produce your own food in a sustainable way. We use simple mulching techniques called "No dig". Not only it is good for the soil, but it is also a great way to save time and your back. Another interesting concept than we apply in Dunmore Country School is the "energy transfer". Basically, you use every bits of organic matter produced by the garden and you use those to fertilise the vegetable beds. Grass clippings, leaves, hedge clippings, comfrey leaves are carefully harvested and reused elsewhere. It is a good technique to create areas with different levels of fertility. The poorest areas are called meadows and they will help to keep a good overall biodiversity in the garden. In return, you will use no spray because the garden becomes balanced.

Cooking and preserving

Our kitchen garden is not a market garden. We do not sell vegetables. They are produced for our own consumption. This is an important point because we are focusing on the ratio energy spend to produce/yield. The trick is to maximise the yield working with plants and nature. We will show you how you can grow two sets of crops per year. I said crops because in most of the beds I would use interplanting and intercropping. This allow to grow set of crops that provide vegetables in succession. We believe that good recipes and good preserving techniques are especially important. There is no point to produce top class veggies if you do not know how to prepare them. We will share some of our tips. In some of the courses, Isabelle will cook for your lunch some fresh and seasonal vegetables.

Natural beekeeping courses

We keep bees in Warre hive which is a French system inspired from the traditional skep beekeeping. The bees are provided with empty boxes and they self build their own natural combs. The native Irish black bees are selected and we take the surplus honey leaving plenty of stores for the winter. The honey combs are crushed and pressed which gives us a unique product. We keep around 15 colonies of Irish Black Bees, the native Irish subspecies of Apis mellifera mellifera Hibernica. To avoid varroa and competition, we put the hive by groups of 2 or 3 and we have 8 small apiaries scattered in prime locations where no tillage (oild seed rape or fodder beans) could affect the well being of the bees and the quality of our honey. The result has been amazing and in 2018 we had only 6% winter/spring losses without feeding/treatment/intrusive management practices. We lost 1 hive out of 16! Which is still too much when you consider than average losses of Black bees in the French conservatoire of Ouessant in Brittany is only 3%. A goal to aim for!

French courses

We are both native French speakers. We came to Ireland 22 years ago. Isabelle has taught students aged from 5 to 70 years old for the last 20 years, in primary and secondary schools, as well as language schools (Alliance Française de Kilkenny). She is also giving one-to-one classes and prepares students for Junior and Leaving Certificate, she is therefore very familiar with the curriculum. She has two daughters going to school in Ireland. She also loves gardening and cooking !

Garden consultancy:

Tanguy can bring his wealth of expertise in your garden and help you make a plan of action. Tanguy de Toulgoët has a strong profile as an environmentalist, educator and gardener. He is a tireless campaigner and advocate of sustainable gardening and has given lectures and talks all over Ireland.

Dunmore Country School have been featured in most of the Irish Newspapers (Irish Times, Irish Independent, The Business Post, Sunday Times, Farmers Journal) as well as TV programmes such as "The secret garden" RTE, Nationwide RTE, Queerbet (Germany), Chouette prod (France TV) and books like "From the ground up" Fionnuala Fallon, Irish Gardens (Jane Powers).