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Share Our Shelves Are Filled With Inspirational Entrepreneurs


Food Heroes

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Our Shelves are filled with Inspirational Entrepreneurs

One of the most interesting aspects of day to day life at Ardkeen Quality Food Store are the many fascinating life and business stories we hear from our small batch producers; indeed, we’ve come across many who we’ve speculated there may be a book in!

We stock nearly 200 of these makers, bakers, growers, brewers and farmers and view our relationship with them as a collaboration, we want small batch production to thrive. After all it is these unique and honest foods which make the store so distinctively different so we work hard to ensure we highlight the people behind the products too. Their stories give context to the passions and enthusiasm behind the produce.

Sarah Kiely of Sadie's Kitchen
Sarah Kiely of Sadie's Kitchen

This week it was particularly gratifying to see some of these great entrepreneurs break through and get national media coverage, Sunday saw Sarah Kiely of Sadie’s Kitchen face the investors on RTE One’s Dragons Den.

Sarah was spurred on the entrepreneurial path by a shock redundancy in 2015.  She had been making her own bone broth for about two years to help soothe her digestion issues, but the realisation that it was not at all convenient to make and that there was a growing interest in gut health planted the seed of a business. Sarah’s journey has progressed from losing her job, to starting her own company and gaining investment from one of the country’s top business people Alison Cowzer and all in a short 2 years! WOW!

RTÉ One’s hit agricultural show Big Week on the Farm
RTÉ One’s hit agricultural show Big Week on the Farm

RTÉ One’s hit agricultural show Big Week on the Farm started on Monday night and throughout the week has featured not one but three of our producers

Michael & Aisling Flanagan of Rockfield Dairy in Mayo
Michael & Aisling Flanagan of Rockfield Dairy in Mayo

Michael & Aisling Flanagan of Rockfield Dairy in Mayo produce Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt. Although Michael grew up on a farm in Mayo, he has spent over two decades working in operations, finance and business development roles in the IT and food industries with companies such as Glanbia and Hewlett-Packard. Whilst Aisling comes from a marketing & branding background, having worked for Bord Bia, Heinz, and Ogilvy Ireland. Working abroad they noticed the noticed the prevalence of sheep’s milk products in places like France and Italy and the surprising lack on Irish shelves despite the strong tradition of sheep farming in Ireland. This together with the consumer demand for healthy foods (Sheep’s milk contains 90% more calcium and 60% more protein than cow or goat milk and the doesn’t require any thickeners or need to be homogenised, making it perfect for the clean eating market) was the basis for the conception of Velvet Cloud. They went from international business to farm business in one giant leap! 

Johnny Lynch Macroom Buffalo Cheese
Johnny Lynch Macroom Buffalo Cheese

Cork farmer Johnny Lynch set up Macroom Buffalo Cheese less than two years ago.  He is the fifth generation on his farm Cill na Martra near Macroom. Originally a Friesian Dairy farmer, Johnny’s decision to introduce water buffalo a few years ago was partly financial, partly practical. He knew it would be difficult for the next generation to make a living out of cow dairy farming because of the poor prices farmers were getting for their milk. His diversification allowed for the development of produce with a unique USP and hopefully secured a future for his family.

Fishing tips from Mags Kirwan Goatsbridge Trout Farm
Fishing tips from Mags Kirwan Goatsbridge Trout Farm

Mags & Ger Kirwans story is a little different. Goatsbridge Trout Farm is in its 2nd generation   of business, originally founded in 1961 and selling Fresh Trout and smoked trout for many years, the couple have greatly contributed to the evolution of the business with the installation of a state of the art processing and packaging facility in 2010 and the addition of innovative new products like Trout Caviar and Pate. Who’d have guessed back in 1961 Irish Trout Caviar could be a thing!

We hear inspirational stories like these every day in Ardkeen but it’s a fantastic thing for the whole country to get to hear them too…like I said, some of these guys definitely have book to write.

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