‘Stay­ca­tions’ can bear fruit for your fam­ily and lo­cal econ­omy

Irish Independent - Farming - - ANALYSIS - ANN FITZGER­ALD

I WAS driv­ing along (in the sun­shine) one day last week when an ad came on the ra­dio that made me say out loud, right there on the spot, “what a good idea!”.

In case you haven’t heard it, the ad is for Keel­ings Fruits.

Every day for the month of May, “to cel­e­brate the ar­rival of sum­mer”, Keel­ings, in con­junc­tion with Tri­dent Hol­i­day Homes, are giv­ing away a ‘Fam­ily Stay­ca­tion’.

As is of­ten the case, it’s a sim­ple con­cept but it presses so many of what I con­sider to be the right but­tons from do­mes­tic econ­omy and food pro­duc­tion view­points.

There’s the tie-up between two Ir­ish-owned com­pa­nies, pro­mot­ing their re­spec­tive busi­nesses, while the take-up of the prizes will also have spinout ben­e­fits for nu­mer­ous lo­cal economies.

So Keel­ings and Tri­dent are not just help­ing each other but en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to hol­i­day at home.

I also think it is clever from a mar­ket­ing point of view, as a fair bit of the pur­chas­ing of these soft fruits is driven by pester power, and what child doesn’t love the idea of a hol­i­day!

Then there’s the timing. While lots of peo­ple will un­doubt­edly al­ready have their hol­i­days booked, es­pe­cially if they are go­ing abroad, many oth­ers are still on the look­out. And what could be bet­ter than a week in a hol­i­day home?

These houses are our own pre­ferred choice of hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion. We would usu­ally eat a light break­fast of ce­real or fresh fruit salad (yes, re­ally!) and maybe crois­sants, if avail­able, plus one big meal later in the day, sup­ple­mented by snacks along the way.

Speak­ing of hol­i­day homes, es­pe­cially now as sum­mer book­ings are fill­ing up, I’d like to is­sue a word of warn­ing to be sure to go with a rep­utable source — and not do some­thing stupid like I did last year.

I trans­ferred money to a UK bank ac­count for a hol­i­day home, which turned out to only ex­ist in some scam­mer’s fer­tile imag­i­na­tion.

With an an­nual sales of over €350m and 2,000 em­ploy­ees, Keel­ings is Ire­land’s largest hor­ti­cul­tural com­pany; one re­flec­tion of this is that it pro­duces half of the coun­try’s an­nual pro­duc­tion of 300 mil­lion straw­ber­ries, every one of them picked by hand.

Keel­ings has long (rightly) traded on be­ing a fam­ily com­pany and is now run by Caro­line Keel­ing with her broth­ers Wil­liam and David, who voices the afore­men­tioned ad (an­other nice touch).

The cur­rent farm was es­tab­lished in 1926 and they first planted straw­ber­ries in 1937, fol­lowed by Bram­ley ap­ples in 1949, then eat­ing ap­ples, pears and cher­ries. Since the 1990s, straw­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries, blue­ber­ries and black­ber­ries have be­come their prime pro­duce.

I am also im­pressed that Keel­ings is run­ning this pro­mo­tion at all.

All pri­mary food pro­duc­ers are hav­ing a tough year but the fruit and veg guys and gals are be­ing re­ally chal­lenged.

While these kinds of things are de­cided a long way out, it shows great courage to adopt such a pos­i­tive ap­proach.

Fruit grow­ers

At this point, I also want to give a shout-out to the num­bers of soft fruit grow­ers from Wex­ford who will soon, hope­fully, be set­ting up road­side stalls selling their de­li­cious sea­sonal fare.

This year, more than ever, they will be grate­ful for all the sup­port they get.

Tri­dent was set up in 1986 and, with more than 1,000 hol­i­day rental prop­er­ties in over 75 lo­ca­tions, is Ire­land’s largest ser­viced hol­i­day rental busi­ness.

Its head of­fice is in Kil­coole, Co, Wick­low and it also op­er­ates www.cot­tages4you.ie, for those look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent.

The Stay­ca­tion com­pe­ti­tion of­fers dis­counts on hol­i­days booked be­fore Au­gust 3.

So I’m busy en­ter­ing my Keel­ings codes and, of course, en­joy­ing lots of de­li­cious berries.

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