Margaret Jeffares, founder of Good Food Ireland invited me to attend their conference, as she expressed an interest in Country Markets Ltd coming under their brand.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD officially opened the conference. He spoke of the need to promote high quality food both domestically and internationally. Irish people traveling within Ireland are also tourists,many wanting to taste regional foods take part in Food Trails or workshops.
I spoke to Helen Gee, a former member of Country Markets. Helen now runs G’s Gourmet Jams which are made on the family farm in Abbeyleix, Co Laois, where the bulk of fruit is grown. She is delighted that sales for their jam have risen 4% this year, attributing this to people returning to homemade produce and homemade taste.
There were 10-12 producer members there who provided a wonderful lunch for us. Trout pate, oak-smoked salmon, yogurts, cheeses, black pudding, sausages, breads, potato bread, oatcakes,relishes,smoked chicken, spiced beef, terrines.....beautiful food by people wanting to promote their best.
Mairead Lavery, Editor of Country Living magazine chaired the conference. I spoke to her about the growing interest in Country Markets and our value in the community. Mairead would like to do an article on us in her magazine in 2012.
At the Awards ceremony later that evening, Taoiseach Enda Kenny made the presentations to the winners. The atmosphere was one of excitement , anticipation, and a genuine warmth between the members who were supportive of each other.
I will be talking later to Margaret Jeffares to establish what the criteria for becoming a member are.