Last Friday night we were lucky enough to win The Zurick Irish Independent Rising Star Farmer of The Year for 2014. We are over the moon and a bit blown away by the response from everyone. Now that the dust has settled, I am trying to get my head around what the award means and what it took to get to this point.
The award is recognition of all the support we have received from people over the past 7 years. The nature of our farm is that we sell direct to the customer. Therefore every week we need households, chefs and retailers to trust in us by buying our chickens.
We started from a small base (75 chicks) and needed faith from all our suppliers to bear with us as we got the business up and going. We have a great relationship with all our suppliers, something that will help us grow into the future.
We had no marketing budget; we needed storytellers to spread the word on what we do. Storytellers in national & local papers, radio presenters, TV presenters, bloggers, retweeters, likers, friends, neighbours and 2nd cousins once removed all helped us spread the word of how we farm.
We have engaged with numerous state agencies along the way. All have been helpful, be it through guidance, advice, mentoring and financial assistance. I keep looking for this famous 'red tape' but as of yet I have not found any.
We are lucky enough to now have people working with us, this has probably been the most positive thing to happen in the past 7 years. It is only through their enthusiasm and goodwill that the farm will grow further.
Lastly, our family, we went through a steep learning curve at the beginning and no doubt they thought I was daft, but at no stage they did they shot stop. Instead everybody dug in and we solved whatever problems arose.
To everyone that has in any way supported us, a big thank you and hopefully we can continue to grow from here and make the very most of a small farm in the West of Ireland.
Ronan & Maria Byrne.
The Friendly Farmers