Where Sustainable Farming Meets Delicious Coffee and Nature's Bounty
Swainstown Farm is a location where traditions combine with new ideas and environmentally-friendly methods of farming. For over 12 generations, the Preston family has taking care of this land, and today, Arthur and Larissa are continuing in their own unique way. They are transforming Swainstown Farm into a place of regenerative agriculture, native forestry, and ecological conservation, all while producing healthy, nutrient-dense food and reducing their environmental impact.
Arthur’s connection to the farm runs deep, having grown up amidst the fields and livestock. After completing his education in Dublin, he pursued his passion for nature and conservation by studying Ecological Management and Conservation at Edinburgh University. His journey led him to Africa, where he spent six years working in conservation. There he met Larissa, who shared his love for nature. Larissa, born and raised in Kenya, eventually moved to Ireland to join Arthur on the farm, bringing her own unique experiences and perspectives.
Swainstown Farm is between Dunshauglin and Trim, near the village of Kilmessan, an hour drive from Dublin. Here, over the past five years, Arthur and Larissa have been cultivating chemical-free vegetables and raising 100% grass-fed lamb, which they sell through their vegetable box schemes. When the first round of lockdowns happened, demand for of the healthy food that is grown nearby increased. This showed that there is a strong demand for food that is produced in a way that takes care of the environment and can be sustained for a long time.
Seeking to connect more with their customers, Arthur and Larissa decided to open “The Piggery,” a farm stall that has become a focal point of the farm’s offerings. With a rustic and quirky ambiance, the piggery showcases not only their vegetables and lamb but also their own apple juice, free-range eggs, and locally sourced flowers.
As the popularity of The Piggery grew, the Prestons realized the need for a delightful cup of coffee to complement their offerings. They reached out to Stephen from Essence coffee, a local coffee roaster, seeking a locally roasted blend. The collaboration with Essence coffee not only introduced an exquisite coffee experience to their customers but also forged a partnership built on shared enthusiasm and expertise. Essence coffee became a part of their journey, guiding and supporting the growth of their farm stall as it evolved.
Running a farm stall alongside full-time farming comes with its challenges. Ensuring a consistent supply of their own produce, especially amidst unpredictable weather patterns, demands constant adaptation and learning from mistakes. But the rewards are plentiful. Swainstown Farm has witnessed the transformative power of regenerative agriculture firsthand. Fields once dominated by mono-culture grain production, reliant on toxic chemicals, have changed into mixed-species meadows teeming with endangered birds and vibrant insect life. The Prestons have already planted over 10,000 trees, and this winter they aspire to increase that number to 50,000, further contributing to the restoration of the land.
At Swainstown Farm, no two days are alike. The Prestons embrace the variety that comes with their work, from serving customers in the shop to tending to the gardens and caring for the animals. It’s definitely tough, but the happiness they feel from their efforts makes it all worthwhile. They take pride in seeing how their practices positively affect the land and the plants and animals that live there.
Swainstown Farm is an example of how the dreams, hard work, and ability to bounce back from challenges have made a positive impact. They have shown great dedication to practices that restore the land, support the growth of natural forests, and create a balance for thriving environments.