Young farmers hope local grown vegetables will supply all of Donegal and help combat rural unemployment.
A scheme to supply sufficient vegetables for the entire Donegal market came about in the office of An Chomhairle Oiliúna Talmhaíochta (ACOT)/Council for Development in Agriculture near Stranorlar.
Donegal shops often sell vegetables from across the border or from countries such as Holland and Cyprus. Marshall Robinson of the County Donegal executive of Macra na Feirme was aware of unemployment in the area and decided to do something about it.
We set up a group to try and create employment. We created employment though deciding to grow vegetables, fresh, farm fresh vegetables, in a group situation.
The majority of the 18 young growers in the group are the second sons of farmers, 13 of them are Presbyterian and many on the County Donegal executive of Macra na Feirme. One of the young farmers is Keith Roulston who says the group is growing carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, swedes and onions.
The crops that were most suited to growing conditions in here in Donegal.
The Reid family are growing carrots but harsh weather means these will not be available between January and April, the peak time for foreign imports in the Irish market. Derek McCrockett and his brother are faring better with their two acres of cabbage.
Project leader Malcolm Cooper says marketing the vegetables to wholesalers is proving difficult as they are reluctant to change from their existing suppliers. Also competition is tough as some cross border operations can grow and supply carrots for as little as 90 pence a bag.
ACOT horticultural advisor Loman O’Dowd says the group have learned valuable lessons and have proven they can produce a top quality product with a reasonable yield. He is confident the group can prosper in the future.
The vast majority of the members are fully prepared to get involved in vegetable production again next year in order to really gain from the lessons learned this year.
An RTÉ New report broadcast on 12 February 1985. The reporter is Tommie Gorman.