Welgro Produce Ltd - Cucumber growers
NEWBIE Competition Winners 2021
Welgro produce, a company owned by Shane Halpin, Sean Weldon and Gary Weldon is the 2021 Newbie new entrant competition winner. Located in Rush in North county Dublin, an area with a vibrant horticultural industry, Welgro is one of two commercial Cucumber growers in Ireland.
As well as themselves, Shane, Sean and Gary employ up to 18 staff during the busy harvesting periods. Spread over 3 acres of heated glasshouses Welgro produces cucumbers for the Irish market with 95% of produce being supplied to a prominent retailer. The glass houses had been out of production for a year following the owners retirement when Sean, Shane and Gary came together to establish Welgro produce.
- Become fulltime farmers in their own right
- Establish their own business from the beginning
- Increase the level of Irish grown cucumbers available
- Run a sustainable enterprise
- Building a relationship with retired growers and leasing the previously unused glass houses
- Product is in demand and sought after by Irish supermarkets and distributers
- They were able to secure a supply contract before leasing the site or purchasing plants
- Varying backgrounds of the owners allows them to concentrate on different areas of expertise; Shane is a horticulturalist and works on plant health and nutrition, Gary is ex-army and deals with staff and work processes while Sean an accountant looks after the accounts
- Involving the owners of the site in an advisory capacity has helped Shane, Gary and Sean to access knowledge and careers worth of experience
- Access to land/glass houses is a major challenge for young aspiring farmers, Welgro is an example of collaboration with a retired farmer providing options for new entrants.
- Constructing a similar facility on a greenfield site would be extremely expensive and would not be possible for the new entrants so leasing was the best option available
- Sourcing staff especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult but establishing a relationship with a local grower with a different season has been beneficial in offering job security for prospective employees
- Not having grown cucumbers previously, access to knowledge was a major hurdle for these new entrants