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FARMING AWARDS: Milking the benefits of being part of the farming awards!

June 7th, 2022 5:50 PM

By Emma Connolly

Kevin and Liz O’Donovan of Gloun Cross Dairy, Dunmanway, winners of the Diversification category 2020, sponsored by Scally’s SuperValu, Clonakilty, in the West Cork Farming Awards, with their children Caolán and Eabha. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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From business expansion, to giving a new lease of life, past Diversification and Hall of Fame winners say the recognition they got from the West Cork Farming Awards was invaluable on lots of levels

SINCE winning the Diversification title in the 2020 West Cork Farming Awards, Gloun Cross Dairy has expanded into a major new processing plant.

Located on their farm at Gloun North, Dunmanway, Kevin O’Donovan explains that it’s at least five times as big as their original set-up.

The move means that Kevin and his wife Liz and team of eight are now thinking about product expansion with flavoured milks, ice-cream and yoghurts all in the mix for consideration.

It was poor milk prices over consecutive years that in 2016 saw the couple make the leap from traditional dairy farmers to award winning suppliers of milk, cream, buttermilk and butter.

The brave move paid off and their non-homogenised milk is used by the country’s most discerning baristas due to its fat and protein content. They also supply to countless supermarkets, markets, restaurants and hotels throughout the region.

They’ve also won many awards including the hotly- contested diversification category in the 2020 West Cork Farming Awards.

Kevin said that win was particularly meaningful as it was on their own doorstep.

‘It’s nice to be recognised in your own community, where we started out,’ he said. ‘Winning the diversification title was a real boost for ourselves and the whole team.’

He added that simply being involved in the awards was a positive experience for them and he urged suitable candidates to take the time to enter ahead of the June 9th closing date.

‘Not only does it give a morale boost, but we also noticed it gave a boost to business. It’s only through award schemes like this that coffee shops get to hear what we’re all about, and coffee shops are now our biggest customers,’ said Kevin.

He appreciated that people running businesses, and farming, like themselves, are very busy.

‘There’s always a lot to do, but take the time to enter as it’s well worth it,’ he urged. ‘The competition is a great way to get your name out there.’

Meanwhile, last year’s Hall of Fame winner Finbarr Hurley from Barleyfield, Kilbrittain said the recognition gave him a new lease of life.

‘I genuinely mean it when I say it meant the world to me,’ he said.

Finbarr’s story of courage and resilience was one that struck a chord with readers. After the tragic death of his beloved wife, he was left with five young kids to rear and a busy farm to run.

He restructured his farm so his family’s needs were always put first. He now farms in partnership with his youngest son Tadhg, an award-winning farmer who credits his dad for everything he’s learned.

Finbarr is also involved in various groups and organisations in his locality and he’s a valued member of his community.

‘The whole experience was a great boost. I love my family, and I love farming and I was really over the moon to get that recognition after all of my years working,’ said Finbarr.

How to enter

FARMERS from all sectors are encouraged to enter the  West Cork Farming Awards.

Past winners have all noted that due to the solitary nature of farming, sharing their stories, and getting involved in the awards has been a really worthwhile and positive experience.

Entering is very straightforward, and the very first step is to go to

southernstar.ie/farmingawards

Here you’ll see that there are six different categories in total. They are:

• Young Farmer of the Year

• Drystock  Farmer of the Year

• Dairy Farmer of the Year

• Diversification Award

• Hall of Fame Award

• Farming Family Award

The criteria for each category is outlined on the website. But the most important thing, say our judges, is to be proud about what you do.

The all-important closing date is June 9th and prizes will be presented at a ceremony in the autumn.

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