RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 1

Ear to the Ground
Free range chicken farmers
Ear to the Ground

Debt, the banks and personal financial disaster are threatening increasing numbers of homes and farms. In the first episode of the new series, Ear to the Ground goes to West Limerick to meet a farmer who has fought off eviction by a bank by barricading himself in his farm for almost a year. Darragh McCullough meets the unlikely hero Séamus Sherlock on his farm to trace how he ended up taking such desperate measures, to ask how he made it through the David and Goliath-like battle, and to get his advice for the thousands of people across the country who find themselves in a similar predicament.

In 2009, with the country in the depths of recession, a group of poultry farmers in Cavan and Monaghan took an enormous risk and decided to launch their own brand, Farmers to Market. Notoriously, farmers are at the mercy of the major supermarkets when it comes to selling their produce. Ella McSweeney meets the farmers who took the plunge and decided to sell their free-range, higher welfare chicken under their own brand. Competition from cheaper imported chicken is fierce and in these penny-conscious times, does higher welfare matter to Irish consumers? Are these farmers on a hiding to nothing? Ella investigates.

Everybody is talking about baking and it's more popular than it has been for years. In our first Food Journey of the series Helen travels back in time, to trace the origins of the flour we take for granted. On a Kilkenny farm, Helen gets down to the backbreaking work of threshing, milling and building a fire to cook griddlecakes. She becomes painfully aware of how labour intensive food production was in years gone by. By way of compensation for all her hard work, Helen has the comfort of knowing exactly where her delicious griddlecakes came from!

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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