Milking a gap in the health market
With their farm lying in the picturesque Gabhra Valley, between the hills of Tara and Skryne in Co Meath, Dominic and Fionnuala Gryson could hardly find a more suitable place to develop their unique style of 'heritage farming'.
In recent years, the pair have moved away from commodity-based farming of beef, grain and potatoes towards smaller and more traditional enterprises such as the production of thatching straw and, in the past two years, goats' milk.
"I feel that the future for smaller farms is to be closer to our customers," says Dominic. "So that is how we operate here at Gleann Gabhra."
Running a herd of 140 dairy goats that yield 900-1,000 litres of milk a year each, the milk is processed in the Gryson's own plant on the farm for sale as drinking milk or production of yoghurt, cheese, ice cream and fudge.
Tara Bán, a mild cheddar made from the Gleann Gabhra goats' milk, won a gold medal at the British Cheese awards last year.
"It's what I would call an introduction to goats' cheese," says Dominic. "It's really mild with a cheddar texture that is ideal for someone who wants to try goats' cheese without taking a quantum leap."
Goats' milk is renowned for its health properties, which Dominic believes should be marketed much more aggressively in Ireland.
"The health benefits of goats' milk are totally underrated. There is a catalogue of health problems that can be improved by goats' milk," he insists.