Direct selling from Castlemine Farm
The Allen family has been farming Castlemine Farm for five generations. The 250ac farm, located at Four Mile House in Co Roscommon produces pasture fed beef, lamb and free-range pork. Anne Kinsella, Teagasc Rural Economy Development Programme, Athenry visited the farm and farm shop to learn more
Brothers Derek and Brendan now run the farm. Derek qualified and worked as a carpenter and part-time farmer while Brendan became a scientist. The recession beginning in 2008 swept away both off-farm jobs. “We quickly recognised that rearing and selling beef, lamb and pork to the factory was not going to generate enough income,” says Derek, who spends much of his time running the farm but is also involved in the farm shop they developed to boost income. “We have sheep, free-range pigs and Black Angus and Hereford cattle,” says Derek. “The aim was always to “sell all of the farm produce direct. The shop has outgrown our own production, so we also buy in animals from neighbouring farms.’’ Initially, the farm shop was located across the road from the farmhouse but due to increased demand they opened a farm shop in Roscommon town.
There, they make their own sausages, dry-cure their own hams and bacon and dry age their own farm Angus beef and lamb. “One of our newer products is Pastrami, an Italian-inspired silverside of beef,” says Derek. “The beef is brined, partially dried, seasoned with herbs and spices, then smoked and steamed.” In 2013, a production kitchen was built at the rear of the farm shop, which has increased the range on offer to include cooked products such as ready meals, cooked hams, sausage rolls and Castlemine pies, famous in the town and beyond. They also stock a wide range of other suppliers to give customers a greater range of products. “You have to make it convenient for customers,” says Derek.
Larder360, delivering fresh local produce direct to the consumer’s door, is another initiative that Castlemine Farm has become involved in, in association with other producers such as organic producers, fish mongers, cereals and sauce-makers. This initiative is managed by local producers to connect with consumers.“Local consumers want the best fresh produce available at competitive prices while the local producers want to be fairly compensated, as well as having a closer connection to their consumers following seven years of research and development.” With others, Brendan initiated Larder360 using the latest technology to advance the current food system and complete the local consumer-producer connection.
“Our first love is practical farming, but there’s also great satisfaction in delivering top-quality produce to consumers,” says Derek.
For more see Castlemine Farm
Learn more about Teagasc Rural Economy