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Produce with Passion

There’s nothing as heart-warming as seeing people making a success of a passion. Lots of people have wonderful ideas, invent clever things, often completely by accident, and that’s great, but when someone reimagines a resource that they already have and that maybe hasn’t been utilised to its potential or simply sees a new creative use/twist for an existing business, that’s especially satisfying.

I get a particular buzz out of seeing small family businesses succeed and especially those whose products or services fall within my range of interest, so food, heritage industries, art, music and really anything charming, stylish and/or tasty.

I was brought up in a family whose core values centred around the pleasure of giving rather than receiving. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, that sort of thing, and I’m lucky enough to have married into a family that has the same values. I am firmly of the opinion that people who hold similar values gravitate towards one another. Values transcend race, social status and creed. I want to be around people who are kind, good-humoured, supportive, open-hearted and loyal not people who are mean-spirited, self-centred and begrudging.

My parents were always passionate about supporting local businesses and so while I was in Drogheda a couple of days ago dealing with some personal matters, I took the opportunity to pay a visit to some family businesses whose products, and whose passion for those products, I admire.

My first port of call was to Ballymakenny Farm where Maria and David Flynn grow heritage potatoes. The idea to grow heritage potatoes was Maria’s and she was there to welcome me, mask on, hand sanitiser at the warehouse door. She, David and the team were busily trying to get the last of their online orders out – sacks upon sacks of beautiful, colourful potatoes. They were forced to change their business model when COVID hit. Prior to that they sold exclusively to restaurants and speciality retailers and Maria expressed her gratitude for the support that people had shown them since last March. I told her I planned to give bags of potatoes as Christmas gifts. She was tickled pink and went off to fill 12 bags for me. As we chatted, I told her I was originally from Drogheda and that offering support to my hometown businesses was something my recently deceased father would have approved of and championed throughout his life. I left as Maria said to me “next time you’re down here call in for a chat, you don’t need to buy potatoes”. And, you know, I will. I’d never met Maria before but that’s what I mean about finding good people. I will buy her potatoes too though because they are delicious.

Next, I planned to visit another local food producer that I had been meaning to check out for some time – Drummond House garlic. Another formidable woman, Marita Collier, conceived of this business. I was in school with her sister, so I was familiar with her success but had not yet tasted the garlic and other products. I was already in Ballymakenny and it’s a hop and a skip cross country to Drummond House. I texted to see if they had a farm shop or such facility. I wasn’t going to just turn up if they hadn’t, given COVID. Marita kindly took time out of her day to phone me back and told me they hadn’t but, when she learned that I was in the area (I was actually a couple of minutes away at that point), told me that she had just stocked the Forge Farm Field shop in Termonfeckin and I could get the products there. Brilliant. I got everything I wanted - heritage garlic and the incredible (I can confirm because I’ve now tried it) garlic scapes dip/sauce. I bought a lot more while I was there – what a lovely place. I’ll be back. And of course Marita told me to call into Drummond House once we’re all free to visit each other safely again. I really felt the love in Drogheda. I'll say it again, you gravitate towards good people. Good people are happy people, doing things they love. 

These women have developed their businesses out of existing resources and passions and there is no doubt that this is the key to their success - they love their product and believe in it. And rightfully so. These are superb products. Who wouldn’t want to support them? I encourage everyone to support family businesses.