David Maher, co-owner of SOLAS, explained how the pre-recorded visit to the popular shop went,
He said: “We were so delighted when we were contacted by Newstalk to let us know Bobby would be visiting SOLAS and sure enough he arrived on Wednesday afternoon.
“The whole visit was very informal and fun with my business partner John Carey and myself giving Bobby the tour.
“We started by enjoying a SOLAS coffee from local coffee roaster ‘Seccoto Coffee’ in our ‘Chill’ Food zone as we explained the industrial history of Portarlington and the why we made the decision to build SOLAS – Ireland’s first Eco Garden Shop.”
Maher continued: “The rest of the visit continued much as expected as we guided Bobby through our range of Plants, Pots and retractable roof greenhouse
“But just as we were about to head towards our 22,000 sq. ft indoor garden shop, we showed Bobby our luxury hen house and from that point it was ‘Chickens all the way’ and we never quite managed to get to the garden shop
“Bobby Kerr without a moment’s hesitation climbed a ladder on to the top of one our containers and proceed to interview both John and myself along with the chickens – it was really quite surreal.”
On site facilities for the chickens include a 40ft container completed with perches, laying boxes and a straw bed relaxation area.
They have access to an outdoor area that includes a climbing frame, swing, mini lake with a solar powered fountain and a range of tasty herbs.
The chickens dine on mainly leftover bread and cakes from the SOLAS café – a true circular economy.
By Department of Agriculture rules, the 500 sq. ft chicken coop would be allowed house up to 600 chickens and still quality as being ‘free range’ – while the SOLAS hens have plenty of room– hosting only 20 chickens at any one time.
The trip end with photo of Bobby, John and David at the magnificent SOLAS sign.
David said: “It was only afterwards we realised that Bobby Kerr was still holding onto his SOLAS Coffee cup, which is a great PR coup for us given his proud history as the Godfather of Irish Coffee through his ‘Insomnia’ Brand.”
This week’s market is to feature several new exhibitors including:
Leopards kitchen amazing range of Salsas & Couscous
Houli-HENS free range eggs and healthy Omelettes
Free Range Meats with bring an array of fresh beef and cooked products on the day
Crean’s Place artisan fresh sour dough and pastries
Portarlington Concert Band will perform in our food court
Start time: 2.30pm
Spend an afternoon at Solas this Sunday
Our food court will be open serving fresh sandwiches, pizzas, wine & soft drinks
All are welcome!
Portarlington Concert Band will be performing in the new Solas Eco Garden in Portarlington on Sunday the 25th of
July at 2.30pm. 😀 🎷🎺
Come along and listen to some amazing tunes performed by Portarlington Concert Band while sitting in the glorious sun ☀️
We look forward to seeing you all there.😎🥁
'Build it and they will come !' or so they say, and this is very much proving to be the case with the SOLAS Eco Garden shop in Portarlington with the news that 'Nationwide' are to visit during this Saturday (24 July 10am-2pm) Farmers market . John Carey (co-owner of SOLAS) explains "there is a huge air of excitement about the visit on Nationwide. The redevelopment of the old Butler's engineering to a bustling hive of commerce, leisure and environmental awareness is a story that is clearly resonating with people. Our objective from day one of this project was to create something that will be a destination location which can compete on a national stage."
Carey continued "the decision of one of RTE TV top rated programmes to visit us is a huge morale boost for everyone involved - owners, our staff, our farmer market stall holders and the town"
David Maher who is John's business partner explained "In particular we are delighted that the program is being filmed on a Saturday to coincide with our farmers market. This element of our garden centre has proven to be an enormous success with crowds of between 700 to 1,200 coming along each Saturday morning. Such has been the demand from customers and stall holders that we have had to expand the numbers of custom built stalls from our original planned 8 stalls to 14 and now to 21 stalls This weekend with see the arrival of a Mexican food stall (Republic of Grill), Irish Gelato ice cream (The Rusty Copper) and 'Healthy Hub' vegetable muffins ! along with a range of new craft people including a local artist, needle work experts, soap and candle specialists.
Maher continued "so far we have offered stalls to the exhibitors for free as we are keen to support local small producers and encourage entrepreneurship. We are currently 100% booked out with a waiting list of over 20 exhibitors hoping to join the market. Our plan is to have regulars such as our cheese, vegetable, fish each week along with a rotation of new and interesting stall holders to keep the market fresh and vibrant. We hope that the coverage will give not just a huge boost to our business but to our local farmers' market stall holders"
Overview video of SOLAS and its farmer's market
Training Courses / Food & wine
Other events happening on the day include a Rustic Hanging Basket Workshop at 12 noon (book on https://www.ecogardenshop.ie/events-training). Also a range of wines are now also available to accompany the pizza and sandwiches on offer in the 'Chill Food Court'
Maher concluded "Also the weather forecast for the weekend is a far more manageable 20 degrees, so we are hoping for good numbers to make the day a huge success"