Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sustainability and Organics with Altitude

Organics with Altitude is based on the farming system of Omega Beef Direct.

So what's sustainable about Omega Beef Direct?

Well, what isn't?
  • The breed chosen by the farm are Galloways. As Galloways have a think double coat, they do not need to be housed indoors for the winter. In fact, they thrive in the outdoors at altitude. So no unsustainable high energy winter feeds are bought in for feeding: the animals stay outdoors and eat what's beneath their feet. Simple as that.
  • There are 64 different plant species per hectare, according to an ecological survey done by consultants BEC. This is far higher than either most farms or the uplands in general, which are actually facing scrub encroachment due to undergrazing. Omega Beef Direct stocks the right animals at the right stocking rate, which encourages optimum plant biodiversity, according to the ecologists who surveyed the farm.
  • The holding is certified organic, so none of the high fossil fuel using agri-industrial inputs are used - synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides etc.
  • Not only is this meat produced without winter feed or these agri-industrial inputs, it is also processed, packaged and sold locally, keeping the food miles and carbon footprint down to an absolute minimum. All of this is done within one hour's drive of the farm, and the packaging is actually done on farm. Retail is at: Dungarvan and Clonmel farmers' markets, as well as at a restaurant (Bodega) and quality food store (Ardkeen) in Waterford City: all retail options themselves are key local food supporting outlets. By supporting these retail options, Omega Beef Direct is helping the region develop and maintain its future food sustainability.
  • Some meat is sold via web sales; in this case, large freezer boxes of low input meat sold to other locations on the island is still a sustainable option, as it reduces the need for constant trips to the shop (minimum order is 5 kg).
  • Omega Beef Direct is not just environmentally sustainable it is economically sustainable too: less than 20% of the income comes from state supports.
In short, this is post peak oil farming and food retailing, well within the natural carrying capacity of the region the farm is located: on farm and regional biodiversity, climate change impacts as well as the economic sustainability of the farm and food business are all taken into account in this enterprise.

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