Wednesday 23 January 2019

Public take opportunity to become 'agri aware' at farm open day

Johnny Gleeson of AgriAware with Michael, Ann and John Coughlan, Sean Kelly MEP and Helena Coughlan and Lil the dog
Johnny Gleeson of AgriAware with Michael, Ann and John Coughlan, Sean Kelly MEP and Helena Coughlan and Lil the dog
Denis O'Sullivan shows shearing skills to William Wharton at Ann and John Coughlan's farm in Buttevant, Co. Cork
Olivia and Ava Macey with Emily and Mary Murray taking a look at some of Betty O’Connell’s potatoes during the Open Day at Coughlan’s Farm in Buttevant

Bill Browne

Despite the fact that the agriculture sector is a crucial pillar of the Irish economy, many people not directly involved in the industry remain unaware of its inner workings.

In fact, recent research commissioned by Agri Aware, the Irish agri-food educational body, revealed that one in ten Irish people have never even set foot on a farm and of those who have, one-third have not done so for the at least five years. 

More than half respondents said the main reason for not doing so was that had simply had not had the opportunity to visit a farm. 

Agri Aware director Deirdre O'Shea said that as our society becomes increasingly urbanised, people have lost the connection with the work farmers do and the food they consume each day. 

"Our research showed that people would welcome the opportunity to visit a working farm to see how their food is produced," she said.

In response to this Agri Aware last Monday held its inaugural National Open Farm Day at four locations around the country, including John and Ann Coughlan's farm in Buttevant. 

The Coughlan's opened their gates to the public for the day, offering visitors the opportunity to see exactly what happens on a working farm, see at first hand how our food is produced and learn about the process it goes through to get from 'farm to fork'. 

Over the course of the day visitors enjoyed a cookery demonstration using local produce by chef Lily Higgins and talk with John and Ann about what daily life is live on a farm. The 'kids zone' also held lots of fun interactive activities with a farming theme. 

A spokesperson for Agri Aware said the day proved to be a huge success, with more than 2,000 visitors visiting the Coughlan's farm over the course of the day. 

"The farm was a busy hive of activity on the day. There was an even mix of people including some from the local farming community and many who have never been on a farm in their lives before," said the spokesperson. 

"It was a real eye-opening experience for some and a wonderful way for them to see at first hand where their food comes from and get a greater appreciation of the work that goes on behind the scenes every day on farms across the country."