James Kearns knows his soft fruit. His farm in the rolling Wexford countryside has been in the Kearn’s family for forty years. During that time the expertise of growing succulent summer berries has grown and grown. Jim follows his father’s footsteps in soft fruit growing. He and his wife Susan run a modern operation which produces strawberries from May to November and raspberries in June, July and August.
The Kearns Fruit farm smallholding uses a mix of polytunnels, glass houses and Spanish tunnels – the latter are polytunnels supported on ‘stilts’ which allows fresh air and natural light to enter the tunnel from the base – to grow fruit of the highest quality. The strawberry crop is made up of the Elsanta variety, sweet plump and juicy, with a small amount of Sonata which has a pleasant fresh taste. Raspberry varieties include Tullameen, Polka and Glenample. Chemicals are kept to a minimum in the pest control area. Natural biological methods mean less need for pesticides during the crucial times when crops are flowering and berries are being formed. Strawberries here are propagated mainly from the shoots and runners of the farm’s own plants, which means consistent quality at all times. All fruit is grown in peat which comes from the natural boglands in the County Meath region. At harvest, crops are handpicked to ensure the highest quality fruit reaches the shops. Kearn’s is a homespun outfit which focuses on producing a good quality Irish soft fruit crop using as much local labour and local supplies as possible. Find the fruit under the Sunny Wexford Strawberries brand in some independent retailers, and under own label brands at Dunnes Stores, Superquinn and Supervalu stores nationwide.