Farm Resilience success at M&S Awards

Local livestock farmer, Damien Tumelty, has been announced as the regional winner of The Prince’s Countryside Fund and M&S Farm Resilience Award.

As the winner of the Farm Resilience Award for Northern Ireland and Ireland, Damien attended an official award presentation hosted by The Prince’s Countryside Fund and M&S on the M&S stand at this year’s Balmoral show, where he was commended for the way in which he has developed and diversified his family farming business.

 Castlescreen Farm is a family farm of 70 acres that Damien runs with the help of his partner, Jackie Gibson. Since taking over the farm from his uncle four years ago, Damien has adapted the existing beef finishing enterprise to focus on producing pedigree Dexter cattle; rearing cattle on farm before butchering them in a new, purpose-built butchery and selling meat directly to customers at farmers markets. Damien is currently is in the late stages of constructing a farm shop at Castlescreen and is looking at the possibility of developing the farm’s website to sell produce online.

“Establishing the farm’s own butchery has enabled us to reduce our costs and offer a butchery service to other local farmers,” explains Jackie Gibson, Damien’s partner, who nominated Damien for the award. “Damien has worked hard to expand the produce that we can offer our customers; working in collaboration with other local producers to develop our own line of Dexter beef salami, establishing a small flock of free-range laying hens for eggs, and planting new orchards this year for fruit. Next year, the plan is to bring bee hives onto the farm and produce our own, local honey.

“Damien has shown a great deal of initiative and drive to establish a diverse farming enterprise, and one that doesn’t use any artificial fertilisers or pesticides. As a participant in the Environmental Farming Scheme, he has developed an environmentally friendly and sustainable farming system, which focuses on maintaining good soil health and producing high quality grass to feed the farm’s cattle.

“The hope is that by developing a long-term, sustainable business and taking good care of the farm’s land, Castlescreen will be fit for our children to farm successfully in the future.”

Running alongside their annual Select Farm Awards, M&S has once again teamed up with The Prince’s Countryside Fund to celebrate producers who are building resilience into their farm businesses and keeping them fit for future generations. The Farm Resilience award is open to any farmers or grower and the competition is split into three geographical regions; Northern Ireland and Ireland; Scotland; and England & Wales, with one winner and one runner up in each region.

Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture and Fisheries at M&S, said: “Damien is dedicated to securing the long-term success of his family business and is focused on producing food in an environmentally friendly way, whilst also maintaining high standards of animal welfare.

“Developing a diverse and sustainable business takes a lot of hard work and Damien has had to be very driven to make the changes that he has at Castlescreen Farm. We wish him and his family all the best in the years to come.”

As the regional winner of The Prince’s Countryside Fund and M&S Farm Resilience Award, Damien was presented with a certificate of achievement and M&S gift vouchers during a presentation ceremony on the M&S stand during this year’s Balmoral Show.

Damien and Jackie are particularly notable winners of this award, as they changed their farming system following taking part in The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme, run by the Fund and delivered in Northern Ireland by Rural Support.

Congratulations to Damien and Jackie!

 

 

 

 

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