SIX Offaly farmers, including a 17 year-old budding farming entrepreneur shared the prizes and €7,000 in prize money at the Farm Business Ideas Awards for Offaly & Westmeath Innovative Farmers. The Offaly winners were announced at the offices of Offaly Local Development Company on Tuesday last.
Announcing the winners, Sheila Hoctor of Offaly Local Development explained that there were two categories in the competition, Category A covered new business ideas while Category B covered new farm related business that is no more than one year in existence. She also explained that due to sensitivities in relation to patenting it would not be possible to provide a full profile of the winning ideas.
The overall winner in Category A was Paddy Bracken from Geashill whose winning idea will see the development of an innovative way to dispose of household waste. Collecting his prize, that comprises €1,000 in cash and €1,000 in business mentoring and support, Paddy was understandably coy about his winning idea, “All I will say is that it is a simple idea that anyone could think of,” he said.
In second place came Eamon McLoughlin a farmer and hedger from Tubber whose idea will see the creation of a sustainable way of disposing of brash and bushes from hedging and hedge cutting. In third place came farmer John Brady whose proposal for a sensory farm for people with disabilities won favour with the judges.
In the second category, for new farm related businesses no more than one year in existence, the winner was tillage farmer Tom Loonam of Cloghan who is exploring the generation of heat and power from grain. Second prize went to Timothy Camon, also from Cloghan who invented, patented and is selling a steel clamp known as ‘Slat Fix’ that acts as a permanent splint on broken slats in slatted houses.
The winner of third prize is a young man from Geashill, 17 year old Paul Dempsey who has developed a little business known as D&M Model Sheds. Along with a friend, Adam Mangan of Daingean, and his transition year classmates at Colaiste Choilm, Tullamore, Paul designs builds and sells model farm sheds.
Brendan O’Loughlin, CEO of Offaly Local Development Company, thanked its sister, Westmeath Community Development, Teagasc, the farming organisations and main sponsor, Banagher Concrete for their support in developing the awards.
Chairperson of Offaly Local Development Company, Tom Finnerty, promised the company will continue to be proactive in supporting farmers who want to try new things as they seek to put all their skills to productive use and increase the productivity of their holdings.
According to Sheila Hoctor the awards celebrate the achievements, innovations and hard work which go into new farming businesses and farm business ideas, “Entering the competition will give participants recognition for what they do and should open doors to industry contacts, new clients, plus PR and marketing for their business.”