‘We were lucky that we had a read­ily avail­able mar­ket as there is an ecov­il­lage in Cloughjor­dan’

Irish Independent - Farming - - BUSINESS -

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?

Tra­di­tional meth­ods:

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.

Dual-pur­pose breed:

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.

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