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HomeFarming NewsTrio, 3-acres, 15 employees, 20,000 cucumbers
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Trio, 3-acres, 15 employees, 20,000 cucumbers

Prestigious award for Irish cucumber growers

Welgro Produce, one of only two commercial cucumber growers in Ireland, has won the third Irish Newbie new entrant competition.

The Rush, Co Dublin-based business is the brainchild of Shane Halpin, Sean Weldon, and Gary Weldon.

Shane has a background in horticulture and mechanics, Sean has an accounting and processing background, and Gary has an agricultural degree.

They identified an opportunity to develop a business utilising glasshouses that had been unused since the owner’s retirement.

The trio now tends to over 20,000 cucumber plants in glass houses that span over 3-acres.

The company employs up to 15 people at peak times in grading/picking, packing and distribution, producing between 1-1.3 million cucumbers in a season.

As with many new entrants across the EU, access to land was a major hurdle for these three friends to become established in a strong horticultural area.

Leasing the disused glasshouses was the most viable option to get established while maintaining sustainable set-up costs.

Welgro has developed relationships with several well-known retailers. This was instrumental in ensuring a route to market for the cucumbers they produce.

Leasing to overcome a barrier 

Speaking following the announcement, Shane Halpin said:

“We are very proud to have won the Newbie award. We as a team have worked very hard over the last year. It is great to get the recognition of Teagasc.”

Gordon Peppard Teagasc added: “It is very exciting to see three young enthusiastic new entrants to agriculture recognise a gap in the market, devise a business plan and seek out the necessary facilities to make their plan a reality.”

John Moriarty Teagasc, adviser on the Newbie project, stated;

“Shane, Sean and Gary have shown great initiative in setting up Welgro Produce. They have identified a suitable enterprise and pursued the opportunity.”

“Like most new entrants, purchasing or developing a site would be difficult for them.”

“Therefore, they have used leasing to overcome the barrier and become established in the industry.”

Newbie Network 

The Newbie Network is an EU Horizon 2020-funded project with 10 European partners.

According to Teagasc, Newbie offers a “unique” platform by bringing together new entrants, successors, advisors, researchers, important regional and national actors and relevant stakeholders in national networks.

The aim is to enable new entrants to establish a sustainable farm business in Europe successfully.

The Newbie network defines new entrants as anyone who:

  • Starts a new farm business;
  • Becomes involved in an existing farm business at any stage of their lives.

Furthermore, new entrants across sectors and regions face common barriers such as:

  • Access to land;
  • Capital;
  • Knowledge;
  • Labour.

The Newbie Network will identify and highlight new business models that overcome some of the barriers new entrants face through 90 case studies and a video library available to new entrants across Europe.

They will share these through various European and national activities, including national discussion circles, videos, and bilateral exchanges.

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