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starting a market garden

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 257 ✭✭ pegdrums


    hi how are ye all?

    i am interested in starting a small commercial market garden here in cork. i have been growing my own veg for several years in my own veg patch and will be taking on an allotment this autumn. im not afraid of long days spent working outside. im handy enough with my hands and learn quickly.

    the more i research this the more it seems is an insane idea. i have never run my own business. land per acre is 10 - 15k or so i hear....

    however....i'm not put off.

    has anyone here opened a small market garden or veg farm that would care to share their experience of how they got started?

    rent or buy the land?
    what about access, services, structures on site such as cold storage rooms/ wash rooms?
    csa / veg box schemes?
    getting your produce into stores?

    many thanks for your time.

    p.s if anyone is running their own small veg farm i would happily trade my time in labour for a cup of tea and a chat about various aspects of it.


Comments



  • There is a guy nr Mallow, used to be called Richard's Little Farm, now Richard's Select Organics. You'll find him on FB.
    He started out v small, couple of acres max I think and now has his produce in stores as well as doing veggie boxes etc.
    He used to (pre-Covid) run evening classes in Mallow. He might be worth contacting, or at least reading about his story.
    Best of luck with your venture.




  • check out richard perkins you tube channel.




  • http://dev.organictrust.ie/members/growers

    I know a few people who have done this (or attempted). What I would say is that growing commercially is in a very different sphere from growing for yourself. A couple of things I've picked up:

    - Polytunnels / greenhouses are almost a necessity, even for crops that normally grow well outside in Ireland. Working with buyers for your produce will require a consistent quantity to be produced for a longer period of time, at a higher standard than is normally possible outside.

    - For scale you will benefit from equipment like a heavy rotovator / small tractor. I've seen some operators do without these but it depends on the scale of what you're trying to achieve. Also a water source and watering system in tunnels.

    - To support a high velocity of crops you will likely need to import large quantities of compost, so finding a cost effective source for this is important.

    - Ability to manage relationships with buyers, and availability of buyers, are important considerations.

    - It can be difficult to find small holdings for normal agricultural prices, due to the pressure on smaller holdings to be sold as sites. Anything in the sub-3 acre range is difficult to find and usually has a higher price per acre if the land is good and close to a town. It can sometimes be easier and more economical per acre to find 5-10 acres and then sell or rent the rest.

    Good luck!




  • thanks for all your replies.

    A buddy in work told me about Richard up in Mallow. I plan on contacting him and trying to hook up for a chat. I didn't know about the evening classes so I'll be sure to look him up.

    I have contacted the organic college up in Dromcolliher about their veg course which I think would be extremely useful as it covers the commercial aspect of market gardening.

    I have been watching some of Richard Perkins videos, they're great. he's really informative and easy to follow. I've also been watching Charles dowdiness videos which again are really informative. Dutch farmer Moreno and the essex allotment are also worth a watch.



    @Batyushki, thanks for the link and the info. i have indeed been looking at prices of poly tunnels as like you say they would be an absolute must. Grow lights are something I was exploring too to get a head start.
    I hope to build a good relationship with buyers as well as suppliers. However I have only got customer service experience as a staff and not as my own boss so hopefully I can keep the pressures of the business aside and bring my customer service experience to the fore here. I do look forward to meeting people through this venture and having a chat and a laugh while supplying them with good produce as ordered.

    The large quantities of compost could be a pain alright. Stephen Sinnott said in the podcast he was on that compost he bought from the council was awful, full of rubbish and glass. So yea, importing from the uk might be the way to go. although that contradicts the reduced food miles idea somewhat. but it does seem to be a fair price on some uk sites.

    Also good advice regarding buying more land than needed and renting the rest.


    I would like to see this idea meeting reality within the next 3-5 years so this is all excellent help and advice for the groundwork.


    What about you guys?

    Do ye grow yer own fruit/ veg?
    Are ye using a local veg box scheme?




  • Peg drums. Where are you based.
    Checks out nots.ie for courses.
    I'm doing one on growing in tunnels. Lots of useful advise.


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  • im based in Cork. Near the city. What about yourself?

    Do you have a bit of you own land with some tunnels up and running?

    oh and thanks for the nots recommendation, Id seen it previously but had forgotten about with all the rest of the information Ive been discovering getting piled into my head!




  • pegdrums wrote: »
    im based in Cork. Near the city. What about yourself?

    Do you have a bit of you own land with some tunnels up and running?

    oh and thanks for the nots recommendation, Id seen it previously but had forgotten about with all the rest of the information Ive been discovering getting piled into my head!

    North kerry. No tunnel but built a 12x4ft greenhouse for seedlings.
    I've 4 acres with a half acre for veg/orchard and the rest rented to a local for silage. He maintains the land and ive no outlay




  • North kerry. No tunnel but built a 12x4ft greenhouse for seedlings.
    I've 4 acres with a half acre for veg/orchard and the rest rented to a local for silage. He maintains the land and ive no outlay

    thanks for the reply.

    When you say you have no outlay do you mean the rent you receive covers the mortgage (?) for the land?

    Are you up and running selling veg so?

    Let me know if a PM would be ok...



    Upon further research and advice from the few posts here it does look like buying several acres more than you need and renting what you aren't going to use is the smart option. If for other reason I can never find 1 to 2 acres of land advertised unless it is for a dwelling.




  • pegdrums wrote: »
    thanks for the reply.

    When you say you have no outlay do you mean the rent you receive covers the mortgage (?) for the land?

    Are you up and running selling veg so?

    Let me know if a PM would be ok...



    Upon further research and advice from the few posts here it does look like buying several acres more than you need and renting what you aren't going to use is the smart option. If for other reason I can never find 1 to 2 acres of land advertised unless it is for a dwelling.

    The house came with 4.5 acres attached. I rent out 4 for silage having done it myself and paying for everything. That year broke even trading the bales for a heifer in the freezer.
    I now rent it and someone else pays for the fertiliser and does the work himself. He's also spreading slurry so improving the field in the longterm.
    Not enough veg to sell but I hope that will change this year.

    Been 3 years improving the soil and developing the garden into a no dig system.




  • sounds great. The no dig approach is something I would like to aspire to. However I have heard that it can be difficult to get enough compost of decent quality. This would be on a commercial basis....topping up the beds annually that is.


    The idea of buying a house with some land really sounds like the best way to go. Being able to rent land you're not using is perfect. However we already own a house so trying to get a 20% deposit together for the move could be tricky so renting some land might be the option.

    Unless I got a business loan, that's an avenue I have to explore.........

    How has your veg been working out in the no dig beds?


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  • pegdrums wrote: »
    sounds great. The no dig approach is something I would like to aspire to. However I have heard that it can be difficult to get enough compost of decent quality. This would be on a commercial basis....topping up the beds annually that is.


    The idea of buying a house with some land really sounds like the best way to go. Being able to rent land you're not using is perfect. However we already own a house so trying to get a 20% deposit together for the move could be tricky so renting some land might be the option.

    Unless I got a business loan, that's an avenue I have to explore.........

    How has your veg been working out in the no dig beds?

    Really only starting no dig on a permanent basis this year so I'll let you know.
    I got 10 tonnes of compost last month. It doesn't go far :)


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