With climate change looming and everyone striving to reduce carbon emissions, some Northern Ireland farmers believe homegrown produce is the way to go. Since much of what the region’s consumers see on their supermarket shelves is imported, the farmers believe their new NI Veg initiative could also pave the way for more sustainable farming and food security.
Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president William Irvine: “I think it’s fundamental to the future of balanced diets in Northern Ireland going forward and what’s really good about Veg NI and their produce - is it’s promoting local produce and seasonal produce and absolutely healthy produce.”
“Within Northern Ireland, while we have a good vegetable growing industry it does not fulfil Northern Ireland’s own needs so there is huge potential,” he added. “Not everybody has the land type that’s suitable but there is scope for growth and it would help round the Northern Ireland agriculture picture if there was more vegetables grown. It’s important on so many levels.”
Adrian McGowan, from Millbank Farm, says Veg NI was formed by a number of local growers who were part of the farmers union veg committee and “saw a need to create an identity for local vegetables” and create “awareness that there’s so many good vegetables available locally”.
“I think this is the start of a journey to help build the local vegetable industry which has probably declined slightly in growers over the last 20 years,” he added.