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Successful Organic Farming in Wicklow

Organic produce is in demand not just in Ireland but all over Europe. Combining Organic Farming Scheme payments with premium prices for produce makes organic farming an attractive option for farmers. Teagasc, in association with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has organised a series of 19 organic farm walks throughout the summer. One of these walks will take place in Aughrim, Co Wicklow on Wednesday, 27 July at 2pm.

Alan Pierce and Mark Winterbotham have been farming organically in Aughrim since 2000. A wide selection of organic vegetables and fruit are grown and supplied in season for local hotels, restaurants and the catering trade mainly in Dublin and Wicklow. Organic oats and wheat crops are grown primarily for animal feed for the organic sheep enterprise and the organic pig enterprise on the farm. Organic pork and lamb is also sold directly to the catering industry as either whole of half carcase.

The system of selling product directly to restaurants in Ireland is not commonplace. We are an exporting nation and in the main sell to a processor who in turn sells our beef and lamb to other countries. Organic vegetables in Ireland are in short supply with over 80% of our supply being imported; this offers our horticulture growers a unique opportunity to fill a market by import substitution.

Teagasc Organic Specialist James McDonnell said: “Organic vegetable farming and organic pig production are two of the most challenging enterprises that one could practice in Ireland- these guys’ seem to do it at their ease.”

“Mark and Alan have a refreshing view of life; unique product and strong business acumen making this farm walk a must for both the organic consumer and the farmer,” he continued.

Currently, a significant percentage of the Irish organic food market is comprised of imports. This is largely due to the fact that both the organic tillage and horticulture sectors are underdeveloped. There is also very considerable scope for exports of organic red meat. The organic sector therefore offers real opportunities for Irish farmers and food processors.

This walk is one of a series of walks taking place across the country; further details are available on www.teagasc.ie/events