That’s Farming Journalist Catherina Cunnane interviewed Liam & Justina Gavin of Drumanilra Organic farm to receive an insight into their farm, as the pair take to the @SmallholderIRL Twitter Account this week, starting Monday 8th February right through until Sunday 14th February.
Liam & Justina Gavin of Drumanilra Organic Farm, are based in Knockvicar, Boyle, Co. Roscommon.
The couple usually tweet as @drumanilra, but this week will take to the @SmallholderIRL Account over on Twitter.
Back in January, Margaret Griffin launched this initiative, with the objective of the account to showcase all smallholders, farming in Ireland.
Back in 2012, the couple moved with their young family back to Ireland from the UK, ‘to realise a long-held dream of reviving the 200 year old 40 acre family farm in Roscommon. The Tonra and O’Farrell families were originally tenant farmers to the Rockingham Estate on Lough Key.’
‘The farm is in a beautiful location, just outside Boyle, on the brow of a hill, with fields rolling down to the Lough Key lakeshore. The name Drumanilra – Driom an Ilra means “Brow of the Eagle” and is the old townland name used on older maps, presumably referring to a time when an eagle population still existed in the area.’ Justina explained.
Back in May 2015, the farm gained its full Organic Status.
‘We raise rare and traditional Irish breeds outdoors, and keep stocking levels low so that animals have plenty of room to free-range. We specialise in Dexter Cattle, Jacob and Shetland Sheep and Berkshire and Tamworth Pigs. We are also have a small traditional breed poultry flock including Light Sussex, Maran and Rhode Island Red laying hens, and we raise geese and organic bronze turkeys from day old chicks each year for Christmas.’
‘We love good food and have a wish to raise our children to know and respect good food and where it comes from, to respect the animals and the environment that feed us, to take seriously our responsibility as keepers of that environment, and above all to know when something tastes good!’ Justina added.
In the Summer of 2014, they launched their bespoke "Shepherd's Hut" style catering trailer to tour shows and festivals. The Shepherd's Hut has now become the Drumanilra Farm Kitchen and has a permanent home on Elphin St. in Boyle, next to Supervalu. Justina and Liam serve heritage breed burgers and hot-dogs, handmade from Dexter Beef and Tamworth pork produced here on the farm, on artisan breads and with locally grown salads (many of them grown in our own polytunnels on the farm). Alongside this, soups, hotpots, sandwiches & salads made from locally grown and sourced produce wherever possible, are also available. There is a large garden at the Farm Kitchen with kids’ sandpit and picnic tables and now have indoor seating too.
Organic meat from Drumanilra farm can also be purchased from the Lough Key Farm Shop on Bridge Street in Boyle. They dry-cure their own rashers and hams and make their own organic sausages and burgers. The Farm Shop stocks a small deli range too including Irish farmhouse cheeses, olives, fresh baked breads, pastries, salads, organic eggs from our own farm and locally grown organic vegetables. Organic Meat Orders can be taken by phone for collection, call 0719664365 to talk to the butcher.
‘We have lots of plans for this year, with building work about to begin to move our Farm Shop up to the Farm Kitchen site, and to move our cooking area inside (we currently cook from the Shepherd’s Hut in the garden). We are also about to launch a website with on-line ordering for our Drumanilra Organic Farm beef, pork and lamb boxes. We will offer a family meat box too, including a month’s supply for a small family of beef, pork, lamb and chicken for the freezer. Back on the farm, we are awaiting delivery, in the next 10 days, of the timber frame for our new passive house. We have everything crossed to be in by the autumn, as the kids are getting bigger and we are rapidly out-growing the old farmhouse! We also have plans to add a small eco-tourism element to the farm with a farm walk incorporating interpretative boards on our breeds, organic farming system, and wildlife on the farm, and an area for boutique camping in shepherd’s huts down by the lakeshore.’Facebook Pages www.facebook.com/drumanilra and www.facebook.com/loughkeyfarmshop.
Visit their newly launched website www.drumanilra.ie.
Follow the @SmallholderIRL Twitter Account this week, where Justina & Liam will be tweeting about life on their farm, their animals, the journey of their food from the farm to the farm shop and farm kitchen, and the people who help them along the way!