Introducing Alex Lavarde: Head Gardener at Belleek Castle
08 February 2019
Belleek Castle is very proud to announce that Alex Lavarde has joined the team as our Head Gardener at the Castle. Alex has big ideas for the improvement of the kitchen greenhouses and the gardens at the Castle and we are sure with his level of expertise that he will bring the gardens to the next level.
Alex hails from Lyon in France and he has been living in Ireland for the last 10 years. He started gardening for personal reasons and also for desire to be eating wholesome, natural food without any added additives, pesticides or preservatives. This inspired him to start growing his own home grown vegetables & fruit at home. He thought by growing his own food he would be able to help people have a good diet & eat healthy food. He started gardening professionally 7 years ago and has never looked back since.
Alex attended a gardening course at Mayo Abbey Training Centre and graduated in 2012. He learned new gardening techniques while attending this course and also hosted regular lectures himself to other gardeners and chefs. In 2013 he joined the team at Mount Falcon Hotel in Ballina after Head Chef Philippe Farineau (now Executive Chef at Ashford Castle) saw his potential. Over the years he has further developed and improved the gardens at Mount Falcon using his expertise to deliver fresh produce which has excellent quality and also tastes better. There was a guarantee to the chef’s in the kitchen that the produce was clean, home-grown and chemical free.
In the 1800’s the kitchen gardens in the Belleek Estate were renowned for it’s magnificent gardens, orchard and expansive greenhouses which produced fruit & vegetable of every kind. Alex hopes that one day he will be able to restore the gardens back to their former glory. This will take many years of planning & preparations but there is a possibility the dream can be realised. Recently the kitchen garden at Belleek has been improved over the last few years with the construction of two greenhouses. The greenhouses supply’s home grown vegetables & fruit for Jack Fenn Courtyard Cafe and the kitchen in Belleek Castle. Alex is already planning to build more greenhouses & bee hives as well as expanding the kitchen gardens further to keep up with the demands for fresh food from the kitchen. Head Chef David O’Donnell will be working closely with Alex to source produce from the gardens for his menu at the Castle.
Alex also aims to have more interaction with visitors to the Castle by hosting Garden Tasting Tours as well as a gardening workshop or classes in the future. He hopes to teach people to have a better connection with the soil & ground by showing them how to be more self sufficient by growing their own produce. Bringing visitors back to many years ago when their ancestors would plant their own food. Exciting times ahead for Belleek Castle gardens and we are looking forward to having a fruitful working relationship with Alex for many years to come. Expect to hear more about the garden’s at the Castle for 2019 in our blog at www.belleekcastle.com.