‘We were lucky that we had a readily available market as there is an ecovillage in Cloughjordan’
What level of start-up costs did you incur in setting up the business?
We didn’t have a huge start-up cost, the business grew slowly and naturally. We specifically didn’t want any loans or big start-up costs so we chose to space out the development of the farm and business yearly. That way we would never have a big lump sum to pay at once.
We were lucky to have inherited this farm, which obviously cut out the land costs.
We did put up a few small sheds, a dairy processing room and a brooder room, for the chickens we get at one day old. They have to be kept under heat for three weeks. We did this by renovating an old building which was structurally sound.
Yes and we got a small business loan to get us on our feet.
Was planning permission required? No, we didn’t build anything new.
Did you need a licence or permission from any other government body? Yes, we had to register with the Department of Agriculture and with the HSE. We are also certified organic with the Organic Trust.
What grant aid or other assistance was available?
We got a grant from the Department of Agriculture, which was only available for organic operators at the time. We used it to buy machinery and it was a great help.
What supports bodies/agencies were available to help?
We didn’t find any body particularly helpful for starting up a business like this. The local enterprise office was good in the beginning, though.
Was insurance required?
Owen and Mimi Crawford with a basket of their organic raw milk, cream and buttermilk
Are you required to pay rates?
We have to pay water rates. Most farms around here have their own well but unfortunately, we don’t. We have mains water, so we pay for it.
What kind of market do you have? We were lucky that we had a readily available market as there was an ecovillage in Cloughjordan. We didn’t know this until we had started up the business. Everyone from the ecovillage is interested in sustainability so they make up a large chunk of our market.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
We haven’t faced any major challenges, but we do face smaller
Is there anything you would do differently if you could go back?
If we could go back in time, we would have bought more land nearby.
We are now at the stage that we have the desire and the means to acquire more land but there are very limited opportunities for purchasing land nearby.
If we had been thinking farther ahead, we would have bought land when it came up, even though our business was in the nascent years. It would have paid for itself.
Owen Crawford with some of his shorthorn herd
Was financing readily available from the bank? Yes, we’ve got farm insurance and product insurance. daily challenges, just as any business does. You’re on a constant learning curve when you start your own business. It was a huge change going from domestic production to commercial production and we are still learning.