Avondhu Blackwater Partnership – “Extra chairs please!” Larger than expected attendance at Agri Diversification Seminar

Avondhu Blackwater Partnership’s Agri Diversification Seminar held in association with Teagasc proved to be a great success when it was held on Wednesday night last week.  The purpose of the conference, titled “Where Do You Grow From Here?” was to encourage rural stakeholders such as farmers to take a different look at their options in order to create fresh sources of revenue.

The conference was held in Springfort Hall Hotel Mallow and the organisers were hoping to get somewhere between 100 and 150 people to attend. In the end over 200 people were present which was indicative of the appetite on the ground for alternative uses of both the farm and of rural spaces.

Sean Hegarty (Chairman Avondhu Blackwater Partnership), Fran Shinnick (Fermoy Natural Cheese Company), Frank O'Flynn (Dairygold), Pat Beecher (Teagasc)

There were presentations on a range of topics from the Enterprise Margins and Financial Implications of Future Business Developments, to Food Production and Food Marketing. Dr. Niall Walshe, Development Officer with Avondhu Blackwater Partnership gave a presentation on the companies’ Rural Development Programme under which many of the new business ideas will apply for Grant Funding.

The Rural Development Programme is the main vehicle through which Avondhu Blackwater Partnership disseminate grant support to business start ups in the Blackwater region and Dr. Walshe’s briefing was of particular interest to those present. His message was simple: “We’re here to help whatever way we can, so don’t hesitate to call”.

This view was personified by the presence of Mr. Frank Shinnick the owner of Fermoy Natural Cheese Company. This manufacturer of award winning cheeses gave a detailed presentation on the advantages as well as the pitfalls of owning and running your own business.

Mr. Pat Beecher the Vice Chair of the Avondhu Blackwater Board and a Teagasc Senior Advisor had a significant input into the event and was delighted with both the turnout and the range of advice offered by the presenters. “We wanted to present as rounded a picture as possible when it comes to start ups. From the germination of new ideas to the issues of finance and economic planning and of course that all important regulation. It all needs to be taken into account when looking at creating a niche business. At Avondhu Blackwater Partnership we have helped and supported hundreds of business ideas to take root and our door is always open for new proposals

Thia Hennessey (Teagasc), Frank Shinnick (Fermoy Natural Cheese Company), Fintan Phelan (Teagasc), Dermot Graham (AIB), valerie Murphy (CEO Avondhu Blackwater Partnership), Barry Curtin (Avondhu Blackwater Partnership), Sean Hegarty (Chairman Avondhu Blackwater Partnership)

John McCarthy the Small Business Advisor with Avondhu Blackwater Partnership and the main organiser of the event was similarly pleased with the conference. “When the idea to have a dedicated conference targeting Agri Diversification was first floated I thought it was inspired. We could have all our resources under one roof and answer all the relevant questions in one event. In Ireland we have proved we are resilient and innovative and hopefully the Seminar will start the ball rolling with farmers in our locality.

For further information on Grant Funding available under the Rural Development Programme please contact Avondhu Blackwater Partnership at (025) 33411. You can also  follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up to date news on events, courses and other funding opportunities!


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