Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Country Markets Ltd AGM

The Country Markets Collection.
Cookery Book, Jute Shopper and Apron.


There was a great turnout yesterday for our AGM in Dublin. Markets from all over the country arrived in glorious sunshine. The support is very encouraging, and an increase in younger membership ensures the future of the organisation.

Our guests included Seamus Parle of Cooney Parle Accountants and Auditors, Stephen Doyle, First Ireland Insurance , and Guest Speaker JJ Healy Culinary Lecturer CIT.

Seamus Parle and JJ Healy.

There was agreement that a national fundraising campaign be carried out for Headstrong, the Centre for National Youth Mental Health. The monies will go towards establishing services, information and assistance for families and youths in their own communities.

We said goodbye to three of our Management Commitee. Emer Duffy, Pamela Henry and Frances O Brien  have between them given many years to Country Markets, thank you all!
Presentations to: Emer Duffy.

  Frances O Brien

Pamela Henry

Our Country Markets Ltd aprons were also launched, and will be delivered to the markets by the Regional Reps in the coming weeks.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

A Trip to Ramelton Country Market


Workers and Drones! 
The purpose of this visit was to see how we could improve our market, pick up some new ideas and have a day out! It marks the first of what I hope will become a regular feature for us, and we were delighted some Ballynacargy members joined us. We already have area meetings, agm’s, blogs, facebook groups,- why not take up visiting one another?

Arriving as the market was been set up, we were greeted with tea/ coffee and a warm welcome, then got a sneak preview of the entire market’s produce before opening time. 

A market like this does not just happen. It takes an incredible amount of work, and a team of producers dedicated to maintaining a very high standard in their market. Thanks everyone in Ramelton Market, we had a great time!

Tasty Terrines.
Silk lampshades.



Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Achill Country Market Celebrate!

Members of Achill Country Market.

I joined the Achill members on Saturday to celebrate 15 years of business in Ted Lavelle’s ,Cashel.

A Cookery and Craft Competition for Second level schools in the area organised by the market had lots of entries. It’s great to share the enthusiasm of teenagers, and I value their imput in our markets, they are the future of local food/craft production.
Baking winner Alva
Craft winner Ray O Loughlin
The market also launched a cookery book to mark the occasion, with contributions from the members. Some of the recipies have been handed down the generations. It has all the favourites, and includes valuable information on local sea vegetables. Annette O Leary enjoys sharing her knowledge of these and has done a wonderful display for visitors to the market on the various types, and the different ways they can be used.

Several demonstrations were held throughout the day, compliments of the members. Weaving, flower arranging, crochet and cake decoration, all of which added to the event.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Atlantic Way Food Business Event

This aim of this event was to highlight new opportunities in food production, processing and tourism along Ireland’s west coast. It was held in Westpark Business Campus, Shannon last Thursday with speakers from Failte Ireland, Teagasc, local food businesses and Bullseye Food Marketing . Paddy Matthews from Failte Ireland spoke about the big drop in visitor numbers to the West coast over the last 10-15 years. Their response to this is The Wild Atlantic Way, a touring route from Donegal to West Cork. http://youtu.be/VvPvDmogPp4
Catherine Browne and Cepta Kennedy from Clonlara Country Market.

Loops off the main route to allow visitors experience more local and regional attractions are part of this project which is still at a very early stage.

Two local food businesses, Burren Smokehouse and White Sage Restaurant spoke of building on local and seasonal ingredients, and how important this was to their enterprises.

Stephen Alexander, Teagasc spoke on opportunities in localised horticultural businesses, now that oil supply will play a more critical role in the distribution of our food. There are currently just over 200 growers in Ireland, fifty of them growing almost 75% of the vegetables and fruit. There is only one commercial onion grower in the country, and from April to June we import all our fruit and vegetables.

Kieran O Connor of Bullseye Food Marketing on trends both here and abroad for 2012. Seasonal, local fresh ingredients, emphasis on the simple, pure and natural. In recession we become nostalgic for what we once had, people are now seeking comfort in going back to their roots, stews with cheaper cuts of meat, pies, puddings, its comfort all the way!
Over 65’s account for 11% of the Irish market, and are the most affluent segment, 25% of the Irish market is over the age of fifty. Target this market ( Grey Market)by offering health benefits, fresh, high fibre ,wholegrain, low salt. Sustainability is a factor, reducing our waste with less over packaging and more emphasis on fair trade.

I spoke to Una Phelan, Operations Executive of Atlantic Way Food about our markets and she has agreed to add them to their listings. Also any of these markets who have demonstrations or other upcoming events can let Una know and they will also be included in their Events Guide. Email Una - una@atlanticwayfood.com
Paddy Matthews Failte Ireland, Birgitte Hedin- Curtin Burren Smokehouse, Tony Schwarz White Sage Restaurant and Kieran O Connor Bullseye Food Marketing.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Ballynacargy Country Market Celebrations


Ballynacargy celebrated their 21st birthday last Friday, and they kindly invited me along.

It was very much a community gathering, with many travelling a distance to share the day, and meet up with old friends again.

Everyone sat around the great big table and relished the marvellous selection of birthday treats, while being waited upon by the market producers.

I spoke to Orlaith, who is the market’s youngest producer. She has been trying out some recipies and can't wait for her school holidays to get baking!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

New Display Workshops

A workshop on Display will take place in North County Wicklow market this Saturday 31/03/2012. Other markets local to Newcastle are invited to take the opportunity and get some tips on presentation and display of produce As more and more great produce makes its way into the markets over the coming months, we need to do it justice.

Phil Kildea from Q.E.D will deliver the workshop on Saturday from 10am-12noon.

Next Display Workshop in Naas on 06/04/2012 Good Friday.

Other workshops are being planned.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Area Meeting Cork


Our final meeting took place in Cork in the Vienna Woods Hotel, with mentors
JJ Healy and Ronnie Harrison.

The workshop was very lively There were lots of ideas explored and valuable information shared by two people with vast experience in food, sales, and marketing.
Enthusiastic members

Ronnie runs Optimum Training and JJ is Culinary lecturer in Cork’s Institute of Technology, with a broad range of expertise in the food business.

We also had Professor Ronan Gormley and Paul Foyle attending.
JJ Healy, Paul Foyle, Ronan Gormley and Ronnie Harrison.

Area Meeting Roscrea

Another successful meeting which was well attended in the Damer Court Hotel, Roscrea. Q.E.D Training provided the workshops here as well. Paul Foyle, programme co ordinator gave the background to the UCD based project.
Phil Kildea,mentor, Paul Foyle UCD and Noel Davidson,mentor


The Irish Food Entrepreneurship Training Programme (IFETP) is targeted at promoting female entrepreneurship in the food industry with funding from the European Social Fund and the Department of Justice and Equality.
Some folders, packed with useful information for start-up businesss were available on the day, there will be a copy for all markets.
The social media workshop.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Area Meeting in Sligo

Noel Davidson, coach and mentor QED Training
Our second Area Meeting was held in The Clarion Hotel in Sligo on Tuesday.

The morning started with an introduction from Professor Ronan Gormley of UCD Institute of Food and Health, on the Irish Food Entrepreneurship Training Programme (IFETP). It is through this programme and the funding it has received that allows us to avail of the mentoring workshops.

The vibrant and very interactive workshops then took place with Noel Davidson, on social media and market research and Phil Kildea, on sales and marketing. We had 35 members present who were enthusiastic and left with lots of ideas to move on in their markets.
Professor Ronan Gormley UCD.

Official Opening of New Ross Country Market

I went to the official opening of New Ross Country Market on Friday.

Graignamanagh chef Edward Hayden did the honours. Edward is currently doing a cooking slot on TV3 Ireland AM and is also busy on the demonstration circuit.

I spoke with many of the customers there to get their feedback on the market.

They enjoy the fresh produce, homebaking and small crafts, they also love the homely atmosphere and the opportunity to relax with friends for tea/coffee and a little treat.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Area Meeting Newtownmountkennedy


Our first area meeting of 2012 took place yesterday in the Parkview Hotel, Newtownmountkennedy. Forty five members attended representing thirteen markets.

Speed mentoring was a new experience for us,and everyone agreed it was a productive workshop, hopefully we can avail of such training again.
Mentoring session in progress. This was one of four topics tables, a fifth table was available for Country Market members to do some networking amongst themselves.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Official Opening of Ballinasloe Country Market


Ballinasloe Country Market was officially opened this morning by Senator Michael Mullins. The Town Hall was full of excitement, local media were present and Market Chairman Mags O'Gorman was interviewed by Galway Bay FM, before the ribbon cutting ceremony

Ballinasloe are our most recent branch market and they started out just before Christmas with about 30 members. Their weekly market is held every Friday in the Town Hall from 9.30am–2pm.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Visit to Naas.

On Friday I visited the Naas branch, where they celebrate 60 years in business later this month. The weekly market takes place in their beautiful Town Hall in the town centre. There are approx 27 active members, many of whom are long serving members. They have continued to adapt to the changing times, and welcome new members, knowing that this is the key to staying in business.

With over 20,000 people living in Naas, choice is endless when it comes to buying food, it takes work to keep business coming through those doors. Customer service is important to the members. Small gestures like homemade sweets given out on Valentine’s, Mother’s and Father’s Day let the customers know they are valued.

Themed days where certain produce is showcased, are also a feature of the market. These days often tie in with events in the area, eg Confirmation, Holy Communion, so customers know they can buy wonderful savouries or beautiful desserts for their special occasion.

Members are also vigilant about keeping the standards set all those years ago, and maintain an excellent variety of produce.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Media Update.

Aoife Carrigy, a freelance food, wine and travel writer spoke about Country Markets on The Morning Show on TV3 today, about the newfound interest in homebaking. Having lost a generation to the delights and smells of Victoria sponges, perfect pastry and butterfly buns, homebaking is now on the rise. There are several cookery schools and baking acadamies offering specialised courses.

Country Markets was mentioned as a possible outlet for those who felt they had reached a high enough standard to sell their produce. Aoife also made the point that members are encouraged to add variety to their market, rather than duplicating produce already available.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Update on Country Markets Ltd

The first Management Comittee meeting of 2012 took place on 23/01/2012.
PR, website, funding, budgets, area meetings, and the events calender were on the agenda.

We are now able to view the traffic to the website and discover more about what our visitors are looking for. After much discussion the changes, based on what we have learned were agreed on. Some changes will be made sooner than others, as our web designer has other commitments. We will also be incorporating the Bridgestone Award, and highlighting our membership of the Craft Council of Ireland.

Public Relations
I am delighted that Bord Bia have given us sponsorship of 500 euros towards our PR budget for the 65th anniversary celebrations. As part of the celebrations we are working on a one day event in Dublin during the Summer. This event will highlight the weekly markets held around the country. A pop up market is being investigated on St Stephens Green, opposite the site of The Country Shop.

The Country Shop was opened by Muriel Gahan in 1930 as a restaurant, as well as an outlet for the sale of country crafts and home produce. I hope to make a presentation to The Lord Mayor of Dublin on behalf of Country Markets Ltd on the same day.

Area Meetings
Due to popular demand the area meetings will be held in March. We hope to have the dates and venues confirmed in the next week or so. Details of events such as Bloom, Dublin Horse Show, National Ploughing Championship, Electric Picnic and smaller regional events will be available. Markets will be able to consider their commitment to such events in advance of the closing dates for application.

We are costing customised carrier bags. The mock- up of these brown paper bags, complete with logo will also be available to see. The supplier has agreed if the order is placed centrally, the bags can be delivered locally.

Country Markets continue to feature in Easyfood magazine. David Curran, our National Treasurer has given tips and advice on vegetable growing for beginners in the February and March editions. Those who want to grow cut flowers for their home, check out the April edition. Gloria Everett from Waterford branch grows for her market and has many happy customers.

Market Visit
I will be in Naas on Friday 03/02/2012 at the AGM. The branch is celebrating 60 years in business later this year. Don't forget to send them good wishes, it is a wonderful achievement and I am really looking forward to visiting the market.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Seasons Greetings!

The first Country Market was held on 17th of January 1947 in Fethard, Co Tipperary. The Irish economy still displayed all the effects of wartime dislocation, rationing, rising inflation, falling living standards and frequent strikes.
The Big Snow of 1947 began one week later. Of the fifty days between January 24th and March 17th it snowed on thirty of them. In places the driving winds caused snowdrifts that reached the tops of telegraph poles. The country came to a complete standstill, and the plummeting temperatures caused many deaths of people and livestock. Yet people persevered and their resilience got them through.

At the moment it doesn’t look as if 2012 will be any better than 2011, but perspective is important at this time. It might be a good idea to look back at how our ancestors faced their challenges.

Over 400,000 people left Ireland in the 1950s, at home many lived in very poor housing conditions from inner city tenements, to town and rural hovels. Poverty was rife and many people were confined in dreadful institutions.

Opportunities for country women to earn money and craftworkers to sell their work were few. The founders of Country Markets Ltd realised that working together for a common cause could help. This grass roots initiative of self and mutual help came to fruition when the first branch market opened in Fethard.

Today standards in housing, education , income and benefits are much better. What ever problems we have today are mild compared to those faced by people in 1947.

Country Markets have the framework for a viable future,which has stood the test of time. Country Markets Ltd currently has 61 branch markets, membership of 1051 and continues to attract new members.

Had our ancestors not faced their many challenges we would not be here. Lets make 2012 a year when Country Markets rises to the challenge.

A very Happy New Year to you all.

JamGate continues on Shannonside local radio 04/01/2012

After a week or more of debate in the letters page of the Irish Times about Granard Country Market jam (see last post 27/11/2011), there was an interview on Shannonside local radio today. James Crowden, the British food and drinks writer who bought the jam and Alan Harrison, producer of the jam and member of Granard Country Market were on the Joe Finnegan Show this morning.

Throughout the week several people have written to The Irish Times expressing their annoyance at the confiscation of very ordinary food items by anti terrorist police in Dublin Airport. After the jam was confiscated Mr Crowden had only to travel a few hundred yards further where he could buy lots of duty free jam.

Throughout the radio show several loyal customers of the Granard branch market rang in to endorse Alan’s beautiful homemade, additive free jams.