Sustainable No Dig kitchen gardening and beekeeping classes using well proven techniques that have stood the test of time. Book a course

Sustainable No Dig kitchen gardening and Natural beekeeping classes using well proven techniques that have stood the test of time.

Welcome to Dunmore Country School, Durrow, Co Laois. Tanguy and Isabelle de Toulgoët came from France twenty five years ago in lovely Laois to live their dream life. Tanguy and Isabelle have been immersed in cooking and food producing  since their childhood. To share our experience, we have started Dunmore Country School, a working teaching kitchen garden in 2009. Our intensive kitchen garden is a potager-style, nature friendly which though only an acre in size yields a huge variety of plants and vegetables and we even produce sweet potatoes, here in Co. Laois.
Our sustainable kitchen garden is also a no-dig garden using lazy beds. It saves a lot of backache, as we let the worms do the digging for us. We irriguate the plants using mostly natural rainwater. We buried a 8000l rain water harvesting tank. Above all, a thick mulch applied on top of the ground will save more water. It will also slowly fertilise the soil by feeding all the soil organisms.
We are acutely aware of the tiny relationships in nature that make a huge difference to the ultimate health of a garden, and like any other school, we love to share our knowledge with people!

With courses such as "Start Your Garden From Scratch", "Month To Month Stroll in the Garden", "Warré Hive Beekeeping", "Polytunnel", and even French Classes, to mention but a few, there really is something for everyone! You can view our full list of worshops here.

The best sustainable gardening and beekeeping courses

People are recognizing the vital connection between health, agriculture and our environment. At 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 using lazy beds.
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.

Growing and 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. It is a great system to improve biodiversity and maximise the use of carbon.

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 naturally selected (Darwinian selection) and we only take the surplus honey if possible, leaving plenty of stores for the winter. This is a very good system to "rewild" the native black honey bee. They are not fed with sugar and there are no treatments done. The natural honey combs are crushed and pressed which gives us a unique product. We keep around 10 to 15 colonies of Irish Black Bees, the native Irish subspecies of Apis mellifera mellifera. To avoid varroa and competition with other pollinators, we put the hive by groups of 1 to 3 and we have 8 small apiaries scattered in prime locations where no tillage (oil 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 !
Pruning trees

Visit Our Online Store

Visit Dunmore Country School's online store, where you will find a range of courses and gardening tools. With courses such as Start Your Garden From Scratch, Month To Month Stroll in the Garden, Warré Hive Beekeeping, and French Classes, to mention but a few, there really is something for everyone!

In these current times, we are running online Live Zoom Gardening Courses, so you can still learn how to create and manage a beautiful kitchen garden, with our sustainable no-dig system!

Have a look around!

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Kitchen Garden Produce

Polytunnel Course

Would you like to travel 1000km south without too much carbon foot print?

Well, just go inside your polytunnel. The good news is: it will not be a virtual journey.

A polytunnel is not perfect and it is not possible to grow everything well in it during the whole season. But by picking out the right crops and by propagating all the seedlings you need, it is an outstanding addition to your kitchen garden. It is efficient, economical and it will allow you to successfully grow “exotic” crops like tomatoes, aubergine, melons and basil and so much more.

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) and internationally in publications such as the Washington Post.

 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).