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Most of the producers taking part in Open Farm Weekend on 17–18 June are involved in food and drink enterprises. The popular event, launched in 2012, and now sponsored by Bank of Ireland in Northern Ireland, attracts thousands of local people to farms across the region in what has become an outstanding celebration of farming and the food industry.
It aims to help the public, particularly those from a non–farming background, better understand how food is produced and to raise awareness of the importance of the local supply chain. The initiative reconnects the public with the countryside and the local farming community which is responsible for producing the food and also preserving the local environment.
Taking part this year are several farm enterprises which have won national awards for products with outstanding quality and great taste. They include cider producers Armagh Apple Farm in Portadown, county Armagh, where a range of Armagh Cider products are processed from local apples including Bramley apples, which has EU Protected Name Status, and Long Meadow in Loughgall, also county Armagh and a leading supplier of ciders to Great Britain and Ireland. Both producers have won a string of national awards including from competitions such as Blas na hEireann and UK Great Taste.
Hillstown Farm, based at Ahoghill in county Antrim, is a specialist in dry–aged meats and is Northern Ireland’s only producer of Wagyu–style beef. The farm, in addition, has a range of craft ales and beers which are sold throughout Northern Ireland. It has won Uk Great Taste awards for its ales.
Another specialist beef producer, Castlecreen Farm, near Downpatrick in county Down, has won acclaim for its distinctive Dexter beef.
Northern Ireland’s award–winning turkey producer, Buchanan’s, based at Upperlands in county Derry, is also taking part and will be showing other specialist meats including dry–cured bacon. The farm has a small Himalayan salt chamber for ageing beef. The farm has won UK Great Taste Awards for its Bronze, free–range turkeys.
Visitors to Acton Farm, near Poyntzpass in county Down, will be also to see a range of animals as well as the oats it grows from White’s, Northern Ireland’s oat miller. And they will also be able to enjoy Tickety Moo dairy cream from a Jersey herd near Killadeas in county Fermanagh.
The historic contribution of potatoes to the local diet will be exhibited on Jamison’s Farm, which is located at Ballycastle in county Antrim.
Each farm event throughout the UK is unique and is organised primarily by the host farmer. Visitors to the farm will have a free VIP pass to see the exact processes involved and the care and dedication that goes into food production while hopefully gaining an understanding of how important local farming is for everyone’s future. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the farmer and, on certain farms, be able to taste and buy the food, highlighting the importance of supporting your community by buying local. To date, over 70,000 people, including primary school pupils as part of an extensive Schools Programme, have visited a variety of farms across the region.
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is being delivered by Ulster Farmers’ Union and is sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK and supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund; NFU Mutual, Asda and Tesco. The weekend would also not be possible without the help and resources of Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, CAFRE, the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association and Food NI.
Picture: Long Meadow Farm Cider in Armagh is taking part in Open Farm Weekend.Back to all news
Northern Ireland’s Copeland Gin, a specialist in fruit infused craft gins, has been listed by Marks and Spencer. The top retailer has chosen Copeland’s unique raspberry and mint gin for its 18 stores across Northern Ireland – just 11 months after the launch of the company and its ‘ginfusions’.
Dairy companies in Northern Ireland are keen to grow business for cheese and butter particularly in Europe and beyond. More than 80 per cent of Northern Ireland dairy products are currently sold outside the region. Although Great Britain and the European Union remain key markets for Northern Ireland dairy products, exports outside the EU are becoming more important.
Wild Power Wheatgrass in Northern Ireland has won business with top online retailer Ocado for its award winning range of healthy wheatgrass–based drinks.
Authentic beef biltong has been launched in Northern Ireland by an artisan business which has its roots in South Africa.
Dairy co–operative LacPatrick has unveiled a new operation in Northern Ireland that will allow it to process milk on both sides of the Irish border, especially for a growing number of customers in Great Britain. The company has seen a surge of business in Britain as food manufacturing companies there increasingly turn to local suppliers in advance of Brexit.
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