“I always knew I wanted to farm, always loved being on the farm, always loved being outdoors. It took longer than I expected to get back but when the time came, we took the jump. It hasn’t always been easy but now we’re making it.”
A native of Co. Galway, Rory O’Reilly is an organic suckler beef farmer who has found innovative ways to make a living from heavy marginal land, while also protecting its ecology. After over a decade in America, Rory returned to Ireland in 2010 with his wife and 4 children, when his father became too elderly to manage the farm on his own.
An innovator by nature, he has developed a new market for beef from his 42 animal herd by selling directly to his customers via a box scheme. He sold his first box in 2014 and since then, he has grown his customer base to around 200 customers. Rory does all his direct sales and marketing through social media and the boxes can be shipped to households located anywhere on the island of Ireland.
He sells two different types of 10 kilo boxes: “One has steaks and one doesn’t basically. The main thing is, they (the customer) keep coming back”, says Rory. For him, “on the beef side of things, the customer is the most valuable asset there is. It’s very hard to get them. It’s very easy to lose them.”
Converting to organic farming had always been the plan for Rory. Even before joining the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS), he was avoiding chemical sprays and limiting his use of chemical fertilisers. He began the certification process with the Organic Trust in 2015 and sold his first certified organic animal in 2018. Rory’s focus on low input and self-sufficient farm management has helped his business to weather the recent inflation in input prices. He also works with a local organic butcher, Michael Healy in Banagher in Co. Offaly, who processes Rory’s animals.
When considering what Rory O’Reilly has achieved, two words that come to mind are sustainability and resilience. His extensive production system provides resilience against rising input costs and developing his own market for his beef gives him financial stability. His involvement in various agri-environment schemes over the years has helped him to put the measures in place to protect the ecology on his farm and in the surrounding area.
For customers of Lough Mountain Farm, they have the opportunity to purchase high quality beef, safe in the knowledge that they are contributing to the sustainability of a family farm that has environmental protection at the core of all its managerial practices.
For more information, visit Lough Mountain Farm’s website.
Rory will be on Ear to the Ground on Thursday, November 8th 2023.