Malone Fruit Farm Shop
Tom Malone started growing strawberries in 1998, as a little project that would give summer work to his children. That project grew into a business, with all the family involved, and a relocation from the original home in Tallow to this farm with farm shop just outside the village of Ballon, in rural County Carlow. Malone's Fruit Farm is now run by son James. But Tom is still on hand for packing and delivering the best quality fruits in the height of the summer season. And giving valuable fruit growing advice! Malone sisters also work here, it’s a proper family affair.Strawberries are the main crop, high grown in peat beds, which reduces problems with pests and helps with harvesting to prevent fruit damage.
A minimal use of chemicals plus biological control (pests introduced to eat the troublesome pests which damage the fruits), means a healthy crop, with a season stretching from mid May to October. Only the Elsanta variety are grown. James believes these have the best flavour, colour and sweetness. He chooses Irish plants, pollinated naturally in his polytunnels by bees introduced specially for the job. Useful little creatures, they also make honey in hives on site. James also soil grows raspberries, blackberries, tayberries, loganberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and white currants, and in good years (or when the birds don't get them!) cherries. These crops are tunnel grown and produce superlative quality fruits. For a very short time in the summer, a couple of trees yield peaches and nectarines. A special treat if you manage to get some! Green and red gooseberries and rhubarb are grown outdoors. Careful tending and lots of variety means a good fresh fruit yield during the season. Malone's fruit is sold fresh in summer and frozen throughout the year.
Berries are frozen whole, with rhubarb in good big chunks. Very popular for smoothies, coulis and other cooking purposes.Visitors to the farm can see the tunnels and outdoor grown fruit bushes on site, and also visit the small and very pretty farm shop which has all the fruits, plus a clutch of chilled produce from local and Irish cheesemakers, plus a selection of useful store cupboard items, Malone's own jams and preserves, local arts, crafts and pottery and takeaway hot and cold drinks. (See separate shop review.) Frozen Malone fruit is available in the shop all year round. Malones also attend several markets in summer, including a weekly market in Carlow town, monthly market in Farmleigh, Dublin and occasional markets at Castletown Celbridge.