'Over 50pc of our costs on the fruit farm are down to labour'
My week: Eamonn Crean, Ballinavarry, Co Wexford, fruit and dairy farmer
Published 27/04/2016 | 02:30
The bees are buzzing 'like mad' in Eamonn Crean's tunnels in Co Wexford and the fruits of their labours will be lifted, boxed and on the supermarket shelves over the next few weeks.
"I use an Irish breed of bumble bees and they are pollinating away in the tunnels," explains Eamonn.
Eamonn, who also runs a 165 strong herd of Jerseys on his 220ac farm at Ballinavarry near Davidstown end of the county, sees the 20ac sectioned off expanse of fruit tunnels as part of a family tradition going back three generations.
His grandfather on his mother's side, Tom English, was one of the first Wexford farmers to supply strawberries to the Chivers jam factory in Enniscorthy while his son Paddy operated a 100ac fruit farm in his time.
His company, Greenhills, now supplies strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and other berry varieties to local shops and supermarket chains in the general Leinster region.
It's a very labour intensive operation.
"Over 50pc of our costs are labour. There is no big machinery involved with the fruit tunnels and no big government grants to ease the burden of running the tunnels. Just hard work," says Eamonn.
"Not only are people buying top class fruit and berries but they can be assured that for every €20 they spend, half is going to pay for labour," he adds.