Mulhall family make the most of their home-grown produce
Jimmy and Bernadine Mulhall converted to organic farming in 2001. Jimmy says his primary reason for going organic was the rising costs of inputs in conventional production and the variability of the returns.
With the farm having a diverse range of production, including tillage, beef, sheep and dairy, and margins tightening in conventional farming systems, the Mulhalls decided to switch to organics.
"Basically, I could see no future in it (conventional production) for me. I had become disillusioned with it, so I was looking for an alternative," Jimmy Mulhall said.
Back in 2003, the Mulhalls were selling their milk to Glenisk, but for the other aspects of the business they were interested in exploring the market for direct sales.
"We had visited markets in England and the continent and saw how well they worked regarding competitive prices and how fresh organic produce could be marketed directly to the consumer," said Jimmy.
In 2004, they started in the Carlow Farmers' Market. They purchased a small unit to sell their meat in, animals were killed and packed locally.
Now, their Coolanowle range of brands is available at weekly markets in Carlow, Kilkenny and four in Dublin.
As the direct sales part of the business started to expand, like many producers Jimmy was faced with the dilemma of managing production on the farm and also being present at the markets to sell his produce.