Farmers Feed Families launched a social initiative earlier this summer to raise awareness of daily life in farms across Ireland. Each week Anne Brady of Farmers Feed Families will interview the tweeting Irish farmer.
This week’s tweeting Irish farmer is: Andrew Ruiter – New Barn Farm, Ashbourne, Meath, 12-18 August
Andrew Ruiter has been working on farms for 12 years however. It’s only the past two and a half years he has been working full time since he graduated from college. The farm has grown vegetables for more than 30 years. In 2004, they decided to cut out the middle man and sell direct to the customer. They converted the farm shed into a farm shop and began to sell their produce and free range eggs.
About the farm
New Barn Farm is set on about 25 acres in Ashbourne, Meath. They are tillage farmers mainly growing brassicas and potatoes. It does not sell to wholesalers but instead sell direct to public through its farm shop. The shop is set in a traditional barn where you can find in season, home-grown vegetables. If you visit its shop you are likely to see the vegetables coming in from the field – that’s how fresh they are!
New Barn Farm sells what it grows. “We don’t have glass houses so anything we don’t grow ourselves we source from other local farmers around the area. Most of our produce this time of year is home grown or from neighbouring farms. We also sell jams, juices and a range of health foods. Visitors to the shop and restaurant can also visit our open farm. We have donkeys, chickens, sheep and pigs,” Ruiter explained.
This year it expanded further and opened up a restaurant called ‘The Donkey Shed’. It had previously housed the New Barn Donkeys so this was an apt name! The Donkey Shed restaurant serves locally sourced and in season food throughout the day. This restaurant is about supporting local producers and local economies.
The biggest challenges can be sourcing good-quality products for the shop and also finding ways to keep costs down. “However, the variety of work that I do is my favourite thing about farming,” concluded Ruiter.
By Anne Brady of Farmers Feed Families Irish farmers are tweeting about their day-to-day lives, work and produce over @TweetingFarmers
Pictured Andrew Ruiter of New Barn Farm