GreenLeaf Organics was established in October 2018 by three sixteen-year-old Transition Year students from St. Columba’s College, Stranorlar, Co. Donegal.
Michael O’Kane, Daniel Crawford and Shane McBride produce, package and sell a 100% organic seaweed fertiliser.
Seaweed is sourced from the beaches of Nairn and Portnoo in Co. Donegal which are on the Wild Atlantic Way and renowned for quality seaweed.
“Our venture into the world of business began with quite a few struggles, the first one was trying to decide what our mini company would be.” The trio told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
“Michael told us that his Grandfather had been collecting seaweed, fermenting it and using it in his own garden as a fertiliser for a number of years, and this is where the idea originated,” Shane explained.
Establishing the business
The mini-company began to evolve from there; the students agreed on a suitable name and logo, and after various different ideas, they decided on “GreenLeaf Organics” as it represents the product’s use and origins.
Michael was appointed the managing director and Quality Control Manager, Daniel was given the role of Finance Manager and Shane moved to fill the position of purchasing and marketing manager.
In order to get inspiration, and to get an insight into a business of this nature, they organised a meeting with Oilean Glas Teoranta (OGT) - Kilcar, Co. Donegal.
“OGT began to research and develop the production of seaweed fertiliser in 2004 and now supply top European golf courses and sports fields with their product.
“We had a very productive meeting and got lots of information on where to source our labels and bottles and what information had to be included on the labels.”
“They also tested our product and were delighted with the results that came back.”
The students were told that their product has a long shelf-life due to the water concentration levels and the fact that the seaweed is organic.
Following their meeting with OGT, the young entrepreneurs began production, after they sourced labels and bottled which can be re-used and refilled.
They outsourced the actual production of the fertiliser to Michael’s Grandfather since he already had a viable production line. They then organised the collection of the fermented seaweed and packaged it.
“Our next step was to cost our product. We needed it to be competitive yet make enough profit for us to be able to continue with our business venture.”
After much debate on profit margins, value for money, marketability and crunching the figures, they settled on €5 for a 500 ml bottle of concentrated fertiliser.
“Our product is great value for money, kind to the environment, completely chemical-free, easy to mix, not harmful to animals and safe to use on all plants and flowers.”
The product – which is aimed at keen gardeners and farmers – was launched at a craft fair in a SuperValu store in their locality.
The product is now available in WH Raitts & Sons Hardware, Dunwiley Nurseries and Gallinagh’s Nurseries which are all based in Stranorlar, Alcorn's Garden Centre in Letterkenny and Varity Basket in Ballybofey.
“Talks are continuing with additional retailers with a view to gaining shelf space and expanding our market.” They added.
The Donegal trio recently received the ‘Best Mini Company’ awards in their school and have been selected to represent their school at the county final as part of the Student Enterprise Programme
“We were delighted to also receive an award for the most original idea.”
“We have received lots of really positive feedback from anyone we have approached about our product and hope to continue with the business after Transition Year, they concluded.
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