Organics with Altitude is an initiative based on the farming and food business model developed by Joe and Eileen Condon - Omega Beef Direct.
The Condons are certified organic and stock Galloways on their upland farm, which is a mixture of enclosed and unenclosed land.
The Galloways are year round grazed, slaughtered and processed locally, the meat is dry aged for a minimum of two weeks, packed in an on farm packaging unit, and sold direct to restaurants, on line and at farmers markets.
The Organics with Altitude initiative involves training and mentoring a selected group of farmers from various parts of Ireland's uplands to replicate this model. Along with Galloways, other suitable upland animals are promoted, primarily blackface mountain sheep and Dexters.
Management supports are in place to help with the initiative, in the areas of development, coordination, research and promotion.
The mentoring involves one-to-one support for each stage of the protocol - production, slaughter, preparation, distribution and the consumer.
We have written a production protocol for cattle, which encompasses each stage from production to the consumer. A parallel protocol exists for the extra mature blackface mountain sheep.
We are in the process of developing a team of regionally diverse farmers to farm and operate in a way similar to Omega Beef Direct: so we are encouraging and helping to develop suitable upland breeds, artisan butchering, direct routes to market and organic certification for these farmers.
(We feel that organic guarantees product differentiation, helps with relationships with butchers and price premiums. It is also a prerequisite for any of the more advanced supports we can offer).
Each farmer retains ownership of their product from beginning to end. they are encouraged to build up their own farming and food business model in their own region first, building their own business and brand.
We also encourage and facilitate farmers to work together, towards building Organics with Altitude as an organisation (potentially a co-op or a company, the farmers themselves will decide) with export potential. We are already working on export potentials in a number of ways.