How this farm family started producing gluten-free oats
'It's ensuring that this family farm stays afloat into the future'
One morning while Kevin Scully was feeding the cattle with his youngest daughter, Niamh, she asked what the cattle were eating.
Kevin told her it was a kind of porridge. Niamh queried if humans could eat it and it planted an idea in Kevin's head about processing his own oats. The idea was explored further and six months ago he made it a reality when Merrymill Organic Gluten Free Oats were launched on the market.
"We carry out the whole process from start to finish on site," says Kevin from Merrymount, Vicarstown, Co Laois who has been farming organically for the past 12 years.
Registered with IOFGA, the beef and tillage farmer, has been sending organic oats to Flahavan's to be milled for porridge for the last number of years.
"After doing market research we discovered the rising number of people diagnosed with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. Two members of our extended family have been diagnosed with coeliac disease in recent years - we wanted to provide a product that everyone could enjoy," says Kevin.
Oats are a naturally gluten-free grain. However, during processing they can become cross contaminated with grains such as wheat that do contain gluten, so traceability to keep it gluten free is essential.
Merrymill is a family operated business with Kevin's wife Jenny running the administration side, and his four daughters all playing valuable roles in getting the business up and running and assist with getting orders out on time.
"Like most small businesses you rely a lot on family or free labour as otherwise it would not be feasible.