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14 Aug 2022

Salad success for Dundalk farmers

Salad success for Dundalk farmers

Coole Farm's Helen McManus and Mark Durnin

Family run farm Coole Farm are delighted to be selling their salad leaves in SuperValu.

The food retailer announce last week that products from the Louth producer, who successfully completed the Food Academy programme, are now on sale in their stores.

Coole Farm is one of 45 new Irish food producers who have completed the Food Academy programme.

Coole Farm in Ardee produces salad leaves which are grown in harmony with nature, free from artificial pesticides or fertilisers.

Their products include Kale, rocket leaf and mixed leaf bags of salad and are available in superValu stores.

Coole Farm's Mark Durnin and Helen McManus both have a background in farming.

As a child Helen’s father farmed and she often helped him with the fun jobs around the yard, while Mark is a fourth generation farmer.

He returned to his agricultural studies in the past decade to re-educate himself on farming practices and is currently finishing up a Masters in Organic Farming via the University of Glasgow.

His studies have provided a fresh perspective on how to farm better, with the goal of nourishing the soil and protecting the land, whilst harvesting excellent quality produce from it.

In 2019 the couple wanted to change how they farmed, away from traditional cattle production.

They started to grow salad leaves, free from artificial fertilisers and pesticides in a small section of land right by their home in Ardee.

They harvest and deliver to the supermarket shelf within 24 hours, to ensure that their customers can enjoy some of the freshest leaves in Leinster.

"We are a local producer growing chemical free food, contributing to the circular economy by purchasing everything that we can for our business, from other local producers", the couple said.

"We manage our land very carefully, taking care to ensure it is nourished well.

"How we treat our soil and our approach to farming contributes very positively to the quality of our land, the local biodiversity, and the quality of our produce.

"Our packaging is currently plastic, but we use a very robust bag, which we encourage our customers to wash and re-use."

The SuperValu Food Academy programme completed by Mark and Helen provided them with great insight into what is required to be an excellent food producer.

Now in its eighth year, Food Academy is a unique food business development programme between SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices.

Participants in the programme receive training in food safety, market research and branding, marketing, finance, sustainability, and business development.

“We believe in local businesses and are proud to continue to support local producers in Louth” stated Ciara McClafferty, the Trading Director for SuperValu.

“In collaboration with Bord Bia and Local Enterprise Offices, the Food Academy allows us to help new businesses grow and get the support they need.

“The exposure to new customers, increased brand awareness, mentorship, and how the programme supports producers to grow sustainably, are invaluable elements highlighted by the producers.

"The programme allows us to use our experience to help small businesses through their journey.

"From the start up to getting their products on our shelves 52 weeks of the year.”

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