Beechlawn Organic Farm is a business partnership that was conceived and has been developed by husband and wife, Padraig Fahy and Úna Ní Bhroin.
The seeds were first sown after Padraig and Úna met at The Organic College, Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick, and both qualified with Diplomas in Organic Horticulture.
The business germinated in 2001 when they began the garden, which they nurtured producing their first fruits in 2002.
We started growing commercially in 2002, gradually building up the business since then.
We now have 5 polytunnels, 2 tractors, a refrigerated delivery van, a rotovator, a student house, a packing shed, a large cold room, and a variety of other equipment.
Our polytunnels cover 16000sq feet of protected cropping, for vegetables that need more heat to grow well.
In the polytunnels we have: courgette, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, and root fennel. In the polytunnels in summertime we grow: scallions, celery, peppers, french beans.
Outside we grow: beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, kale, lettuce, onions, parsnips, potatoes, romanesco, and turnips.
Timeline, Business Development
• 2002 2 acres of veg grown, 1st volunteer stays with us on a 6 week internship from a horticulture college in France. 1 small polytunnel erected, 20 customers joined our new box scheme, and application for Organic licence submitted. Farm shed is cleaned out and whitewashed for the new enterprise.
• 2003 Lots of volunteers come this year, sometimes three at a time. Organic Licence granted! 2nd polytunnel erected, heated propagator bought, Grant received from Galway Rural Development, rotovator, tractor, two wheel rotovator, plough, and tiller bought.
• 2004 3rd polytunnel erected. Deliveries in Athlone and Ballinasloe now up to 80 customers on the box scheme.
• 2005 1st farm van purchased. 4th polytunnel erected, 1st full time employee on the farm for the Spring Summer and Autumn. Market in Athlone and Ballinasloe begins in August. Home delivery customer numbers reduce as people now come to our market stall. Cold room built into farm shed.
• 2006 Market in Loughrea starts in August. Home deliveries down to 30. Wooden student house erected for volunteers and farm workers.
• 2007 2 full time employees as well as Padraig and Úna working full time. New shed door and a 10,000 sq ft multi span polytunnel with the help of the Dept. of Agriculture “Organic Grant”. New extended heated propagator and our 1st tunnel is devoted completely to seed sowing and germinating. Number of volunteers who have stayed with us since 2002 now above 60! 1st Farm Open Day with music, food and tours in August. Home delivery numbers increase to 50, now including Loughrea. A busy Christmas with extra markets and our annual holiday after Christmas.
• 2008 Started selling at the Oranmore and Moycullen Farmers market. We grew 13 acres that year, in cluding 8 new acres rented across the road from the farm.
• 2009 With the help of Musgraves, Supervalu and Bord Bia and with some funding from the Organic Unit at the Dept of Agriculture Forestry and Food we bought a shrink wrapper and a barcode label printer. We renovated our packing shed and started selling packaged veg to shops and supermarkets. We put another four acres of rented land into organic conversion and planted a green manure for using in 2012.
• 2010 With another grant from the Dept. of agriculture we began renovating another farm shed to use as a wash house to wash earthy veg coming in from the field and keep it away from the washed clean veg and imported fruit. We began employing an administrative and accounts assistant.
• 2011 We harvested over 30 tons of potatoes this year in a partnership with another farmer in Kilconnell, Ballinasloe, continued to sell to more shops and grew 17 acres of veg. In the summer we started selling mixed pallets of veg using transport companies to bring them to Cork, Dublin, Wicklow and Kerry. We finished up selling in three markets and focused on Loughrea and Oranmore market alone. We purchased a root crop washer for washing carrots potatoes, turnip and other roots coming in from the fields. We employed an new delivery driver, veg packing supervisor. We got help from a crop planning advisor John Hogan this year.
• 2012 We continued expanding with the purchase of a leek washer. We began to build an office above the new veg washouse a project which we hope to finish in 2013 perhaps. We stopped selling in Oranmore market and focus on Loughrea market. We started delivering to shops in Co. Clare and Co. Tipperary. Estimated acreage grown in 2012 ; 20 acres.
• 2013 We joined the food academy programme for local businesses and did our training in Clare. As a result we started supplying 6 Supervalus in Co. Clare and Limerick along with five other independent stores.
• 2014 We were shortlisted for a national GREEN award at the ceremony in Dublin in May. We won the National Organic award for our sungold orange cherry tomatoes in September. we got a loan from the crowd funding company ” linked finance” in Dublin allowign us to make a downpayment on a new van and the Dept Ag organic grant aid gave us funding towards a refrigeration unit for it. We hired a new intern Catherine and new farm worker Janos!
• 2015 We got three phase electricity into our veg washhouse and a new large coldroom for storing pallets of veg, hired more new staff, rented land on two new farms, converting it to organic. this year we grew 25 acres of veg and have 20 acres in green manure/conversion to organic totalling 45 acres farmed. we now employ 7 full time and 5 part time staff. Our curly kale,leeks and cabbage are on sale in Supervalus nationwide under the Supervalu organic brand label and our curly kale is on sale in Aldi for two weeks in December. Our new veg box scheme manager John Donnelly has helped us bring the box scheme back up to 50 home delivery boxes a week in December!