Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ground-Breaking Initiative Targets Dynamic Upland Farmers

An innovative pilot project, supported by the Organic Unit of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) has been announced.

The ground-breaking initiative is aimed at upland farmers who have a mixture of privately owned and commonage land, and who have a passion for farming.

This project, known as Organics with Altitude, will be a replication of Joe Condon’s Omega Beef Direct farm and food business, located in the Knockmealdown Mountains in south Tipperary.

The main principles of Organics with Altitude will be:

· Organic certification.
· Extensive upland grazing.
· Galloway cattle.
· A complete agri-food protocol for farmers to follow, encompassing production, butchering, preparation, distribution and consumption.
· Direct selling to the consumer.

Interested farmers who participate in the project will benefit from fully-supported mentoring and training for all stages of the protocol, from production through to direct marketing to the consumer.

A limited number of spaces for this venture are available for selected, motivated individuals. These individuals will spearhead the development of this sustainable upland food business model in their respective regions.

For selected farmers, Organics with Altitude will arrange for farm and food business walks. These will involve accessing the Condon's farm, the packing unit and farmers' market.

There will be regional training days in Kerry, Cork, Mayo, Donegal and other selected areas.

Individual visits to farms across Ireland, as well as mentoring sessions for farmers interested in the initiative, will also occur.

This mentoring and training will be carried out by organic upland farmer, Joe Condon and Rural Development Specialist, Dr. Oliver Moore. This project has a life-span of 12 months.

According to Joe Condon: “I'm absolutely delighted that we will be going ahead with Organics with Altitude. Direct selling your own organic meat from the right upland breeds is a definite positive option in the current economic climate.”

He goes on: “This is a low cost, low input farming option which can be a win-win situation for both the farmer and the consumer.”

The initiative will have supports in place in the areas of research and development, networking between farmers, project development and promotion.

Farmers involved in the initiative will have access to various research areas pertinent to this project and already underway, such as:

· Omega Beef Direct's extensive research into Galloways on the uplands
· Nutritional research: in particular, research currently underway into Omega levels in grass fed Galloways, as well as research into vitamin levels.
· Traceability of meat to specific geographic location.

Organics with Altitude will also help develop certified organic, extra mature, blackface mountain lamb.

According to Dr. Moore “farming in the uplands is already restricted. As well as this, the recent cutbacks in farming supports have made the situation more difficult again”.

He continues: “Applicants for the Organic Farming Scheme will from now on be expected to have an output and market focus, to have engaged with the organic sector already, and to have in place a business plan. In this context, upland farmers should give Organics with Altitude serious consideration”.

For more, contact:

info@organicswithaltitude.com; www.organicswithaltitude.com
Joe Condon 087 2735447: joe@organicswithaltitude.com
Oliver Moore 086 8047854: ollie@organicswithaltitude.com :

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