Garlic-bulb moment: a bright idea turns into a major supplier of the country

  • Garlic-bulb moment: a bright idea turns into a major supplier of the country
    Independent.t. E.
    This is a small family farm in Birr, Co Offaly, with a history of 150 years, but in 2012, the Drummond home was able to build a strong niche as a local manufacturer of new varieties of tricky crop that you usually associate with the Sunny Mediterranean climate.
    https://www.independent.ie/business/small-business/garlicbulb-moment-bright-idea-turns-farm-into-countrys-largest-supplier-37251755.html
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This is a small family farm in Birr, Co Offaly, with a history of 150 years, but in 2012, the Drummond home was able to build a strong niche as a local manufacturer of new varieties of tricky crop that you usually associate with the Sunny Mediterranean climate.

Their way to becoming the largest supplier of garlic in Ireland was forged by years of research and hard work, along with generous help and support from several sources. But they have also built a strong and loyal brand in the premium products of garlic, using a natural interest that people have in what they were doing.

Indeed, Marita necklace is a natural storyteller, saying that she and her husband, Peter learned in the process of building them is quite a modern farm. Becoming garlic growers was the final answer to the question of What to do with 100-acre farm that Peter had inherited in the late 1990-ies, but only in 2008.

“It was very dilapidated,” says Marita. “There is a tenant farmer just do potatoes and corn in the rotation, and Peter and I really wanted to clear the farm and return it to the glory that it was.”

However, after having to pay a huge €300,000 inheritance tax, they had little capital to invest in the farm and a great desire to get into large debts. The lease would bring the annual income of only £ 13,000, and the sale of parts is not an option. Peter “firmly believes that to be a Keeper, see to it that you have to improve what you have, but the same,” says Marita.

So they gravitated to the idea of finding a new type of crops that they could grow and will grow well.

As Marita says it, they “saw the light” during a family trip high up the river Ganges in India. During a stop in the town of Ranikhet, a place about 18 000 feet above sea level, they passed a farm, which would look like growing green onions, but which turned out to be Himalayan garlic.

“I was just confused because, in my opinion, the garlic grown in a Mediterranean climate or in China or Argentina. He is not growing in damp, wet, heavy soils, but this place actually wasn’t. The farmer explained to me that melt-water which dripped down from the higher Himalayas is becoming a very, very light stream, and it continues on its way. So never dive in the water.”

It made them think. The soil on the farm is sandy Collier and quality is at the top of the quarry, which means, of course good drainage. “Even if there is a bad summer and it has not stopped raining, you can still get into our field with the tractor,” says Marita.

After returning home, Marita did a little research and found that there is no growing garlic on a commercial scale. They also found that garlic plants from the Mediterranean grow well, but which is a stronger variety of garlic from Eastern Europe, who must live at a temperature of five degrees or below for about eight weeks a year – for sure.

They planted about two hectares in 2013, while they lost a large part of the crop due to lack of irrigation, they were amazed when they checked on the taste of what remained. “This is not garlic I have ever tasted,” said Marita. “It was like a hot pepper. What I don’t understand is how the garlic is meant to be, it’s meant to burn, it’s meant to be warm and the fire.”

So they went full-scale for next year, planting five acres, though not before investing in proper irrigation system.

Marita admits that the pair were a little naive about how labor-intensive planting and harvesting garlic will, especially with almost no cars. “We were supposed to go out with a pole made handle brush sweeper, to make a hole and drop the cloves. I would come for my husband with a rake to rake it. We don’t even own a tractor. We had to get them with pitchforks and actually pole plug it and then fill the bucket and literally walking with buckets on the field”.

But with the helping hands of family and friends during harvest periods; and moral support and advice from agencies such as the Committee of An Bord Bia and the Department of agriculture (which includes Grant support to cover the costs of their irrigation system and new technology), their persistence and work was rewarded.

Drummond house garlic can today be found in certain grocery stores craftsman, craft butchers and Dunnes stores a few branches. He is the only supplier of garlic in the merrion hotel, and several top chefs including JP McMahon of Aniara, Wade Murphy, Alberto Rossi “Intercontinental” Mike Tweedy Adare manor and Neven Maguire.

He has won several awards, including the 2017 hubcaps premium (for high quality products and garlic flavor) and Georgina Campbell awards for 2017 and 2018.

Marita said that she was afraid to work with multiple hearing a negative experience from other manufacturers, but she loved how their relationship with Dunnes stores has been developed. “They told me, ‘that’s your brand. We’re not here to say that you grew up Dunnes; you grow on Drummond house, because we have no knowledge. We never had garlic grower'”.

Marita insisted on designing the packaging, as it was great for her clients to “know” the producer. “People want to know what they are getting and what you sell and they realize that they can look at their lives and they feel that they know you,” she says.

In addition to the introduction of new varieties (marked in accordance with their strength and flavor) and a new product called garlic landscapes (the buds of the garlic plant) in the Irish market, Drummond house for the first time the idea of selling packages of loose carnations which gained a lot of popularity, especially with those who love garlic, but not the whole ball. Given all this, it is not surprising to hear that Drummond house garlic more expensive than cheap, imported varieties we used, €3.50 for one pack cattle, Mikulov, Bohemian pink, Red Czech or Elephant garlic. But it seems that Dunnes stores customers can’t get enough of them, and Marita says it is regularly inundated with letters asking me when this product is back in season.

The best chefs, who quickly became fascinated customers Drummond house garlic also encourage them to make trial runs of asparagus, as it turned out, they had the right kind of sandy soil for these plants to thrive. So with the help and support of a top agronomist John Hogan on the website of teagasc, the farm produced its first official harvest of this vegetable delicacy.

Now they are working to increase their plot sizes for garlic” because we have a planter of garlic we have garlic harvester, and we have garlic clove packer, so happy days,” said Marita. “We can be very effective without time-consuming”.

They also work on new products, including a variety of black garlic and garlic pesto landscape. They are also doing some R & d to develop a beekeeper honey infused product is garlic, and with a local brewing company to develop a cider flavored with garlic. “I know it sounds disgusting, but we have fun with it. A couple samples we have done already blew people from the factor of taste.”

The history of Drummond house are also interesting to other manufacturers, many of whom asked Marita for advice. The truth is that the pair’s success was heavy, with lots of mistakes and lessons, and while Marita obviously would not have it any other way, her advice is that it’s not fast.

“If you are looking for a quick fix for 12 months or 24 months and, hopefully, clear the debt, I can tell you now, categorically, that this will not happen.”

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