'I don't think there is enough money in straight farming' - Seventh generation farmer on diversifying her suckler farm
A seventh generation farmer who runs an organic beef suckler farm believes diversification is essential to the survival of farms.
Margaret Edgill runs Mount Briscoe farm near Daingean in Co Offaly. Set on 32 hectares of pastureland with 15 hectares of woodland, the farm primarily produces organic Hereford beef.
An old estate which would once have extended far beyond the present farm, Mount Briscoe has remained in the same family since the 16th Century.
Margaret, who previously worked in theatre and event management, took over from her parents having returned to the farm after her mother took ill in 2012. Since returning, she has invested in rare Irish Moiled Cattle and also breeds Irish Draught Horses.
Margaret produces wooden carving boards, sloe and crab apple jelly, provides glamping, Airbnb, offers WWOOFERS (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) places and runs a Rare and Traditional Breeds Show at the farm.
“The reason for my diversification is because I don’t think there is enough money in straight farming,” she explained, adding that “we have to start thinking outside the box.”
Mount Briscoe has been an organic farm since 1998 when it was licenced by the Irish Organic Farmers & Growers Association (IOFGA). “I have inherited what was their system and I have kept it their system,” Margaret explained.
A firm advocate of traditional and organic, Margaret said “to me it is labour intensive but I don’t mind because I agree with it.” She says that “for the longterm good of the argi-sector I think the whole of Ireland should be organic.”