From farm to fork – Wexford brothers rear 1,200 Angus heifers to feed their hotel businesses

Redmond Farm in Craanford, Gorey, Co. Wexford, is no ordinary farm enterprise, with most of the land in the operation being used to rear 1,200 Angus heifers.

The farm, owned by brothers Paddy and Tom Redmond, compromises of over 121ha (300ac) of grass and tillage.

Last year, Redmond Farm was a winner of the dairy calf-to-beef category at the Origin Green Producer Awards 2016.

Here, Paddy Redmond discusses the benefits the business has seen since being crowned the winner at the award ceremony last October.

Joe Burke from Bord Bia (centre) is pictured with Origin Green award-winning farmers Thomas and Paddy Redmond, Craanford, Gorey, Co. Wexford

What’s unique about the set-up is that all of the beef reared on the farm is slaughtered for use in the family’s two hotels.

This concept is the bedrock of the Redmond’s programme of ‘One Farm, Two Hotels, One Vision’.

Up to 10 high-quality Angus heifers are finished on the farm each week. The beef produced is used to supply functions, weddings and carvery lunches at FARM – the steakhouse restaurant in the Amber Springs – and the Rowan restaurant in the Ashdown Park. Both of these are located in Gorey, Co. Wexford.

“People are really inquisitive about where their food comes from. And we’re always striving to satisfy the customer and provide them with a better hotel experience,” Paddy said.

On winning the Origin Green Producer Award, Paddy said: “That was very significant for us.

It meant we could hang our hat on the sustainability of our beef. You’d be surprised by how many people ask us questions about the award.

“We’re trying to be progressive and keep an edge on the competition. People buy into the concept of what we’re trying to do.”

Why did the Redmond’s win the award?

As to why the Redmonds won the award, Paddy said: “It’s down to the fact that everything happens within a 10-mile radius of the farm.

That small circle from farm-gate to plate means that we can keep our carbon footprint low and our quality of beef high. It’s very important to us that our cattle are fed the natural way.

“That requires good grass utilisation; getting the cattle out as quickly as possible in spring; grass management during the summer; and then trying to finish them off on grass as much as we can.”

beef

Protecting the natural environment

In terms of protecting the natural environment, Paddy said they have learned a lot by participating in Origin Green.

“It’s the simple things that make all the difference. We have been growing hedges and trees. You don’t have to make huge changes and it’s not going to be an issue for farmers.”

Paddy believes that agriculture has a huge part to play in terms of Ireland competing internationally.

“We really need to up the ante in terms of sustainability and driving awareness of the quality of our product.

“That’s something that’s not going to go away. Taking part in Origin Green is all about focusing on driving that awareness,” he added.

Other Redmond Farm produce like vegetable crops such as lettuce, carrots and parsnips are supplied to both of their hotels daily.

The farm also has a full-time horticulturist who works with both chefs to create the seasonal menus served across both properties. As well as the farm, Paddy and Tom run a successful construction business.

Proud to be part of Origin Green

Sustainability is now part of the entry criteria in every sector and every marketplace in which the Irish food industry competes.

Bord Bia’s Origin Green is the only sustainability programme in the world to operate at a national scale, showcasing Irish produce in global and home markets.

Origin Green verified members account for more than 90% of Ireland’s total food and drink exports.

Irish farmers who are certified members of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance schemes and who participate in a farm sustainability survey as part of the audit process are part of Origin Green.

Sustainability schemes

Bord Bia recently launched the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS), expanding the well-established Quality Assurance standards to include sustainability criteria.

Bord Bia’s Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) is the world’s first national dairy sustainability scheme. It allows dairy farmers to measure their continuous improvement of efficiencies and sustainability practices.

At farm level, the Origin Green sustainability programme now operates across the Irish dairy, beef and lamb sectors. There are plans to broaden it to the pigmeat, poultry, eggs, horticulture and grain sectors.

Preserving the farm for future generations

Origin Green farmers are discovering that the efficiencies that come from farming sustainably and caring for the environment have benefits in terms of preserving their farm and land for future generations.

These benefits can contribute to the profitability of the farm enterprises.