Greenmount Farm Shop, Richhill
Expertise in farming, supporting the local community and environment and ongoing diversification – including a new restaurant venture – are at the heart of the Armagh-based business, owner dean Irwin tells Niamh Wallace
Greenmount Farm Shop is a carnivore’s haven. This family-run business holds a legacy in the farming trade of over 300 years, making Dean Irwin and his family well experienced and passionate in the farming and butchery trades.
Their products are diverse, but they are best known locally for their grass fed, Himalayan salt cured beef burgers. As a long-established pillar of the rural community in Co Armagh, Greenmount continues to adapt and grow with the changing market, making them as strong a business in 2018 as they were in 1995 after opening.
Despite the rural location, their proximity to Armagh City and Portadown, and presence at St George’s Market in Belfast, allows them to attract a wide variety of customers. This allows them to not only appeal to other members of the rural community, but also to represent Northern Ireland on a global scale as tourists flock at the weekends to sample the finest produce our country has to offer.
Since opening, the shop has undergone many physical changes, such as renovations to the building’s interior and the installation of a coffee shop, a salt chamber to cure their meats from home and the exciting new addition of a restaurant, Darby’s Bridge, to give them a taste for their products and to demonstrate to customers how their products may be used.
The diversity of their product range is ever growing, ranging from farm-produced traditional and seasonal meats, to slimming meats, pies, and locally-produced condiments such as jam, relish, honey and goose fats.
This allows them to promote the trade of the local community, showcasing it in arenas such as St George’s Market where they might not otherwise have the opportunity to do so.
Greenmount Farm Shop prides themselves on providing good quality meat to young families who want to feed their children with the most wholesome and tasty food, providing them with local, wholesome nutrition from a young age. As a farming family, food is very important to them, with Dean’s son Stephen entering the local food industry in his own way through Darby’s Bridge Restaurant.
The livestock family at Greenmount are a diverse bunch. With livestock ranging from various breeds of cattle, pigs from Co Armagh, farm-born lamb, and seasonal livestock such as turkeys, ducks, geese and venison, the Greenmount staff really have their hands full.
Since opening, the farm has expanded to incorporate a blend of traditional heifers such as the Aberdeen Angus while also continuing to branch out by housing more unusual breeds of cattle such as the British Blue or Simmental breeds.
Greenmount are passionate about their livestock and allow the animals as much freedom as possible in their lifetimes to make them as enjoyable as possible. They slaughter their cattle under 30 weeks, which ensure that the taste and tenderness of the meat is at optimum levels, giving them an advantage against supermarket competitors in the industry.
The fact that they feed their livestock on their own grounds and by their own produced barley, and the installation of a wind turbine on site creating their own electricity, shows how Greenmount continues to become an independent and self-sufficient business.
It is fair to say that Greenmount Farm Shop is an award-winning enterprise. The array of awards won over the years demonstrates a versatility that not many can boast, as they take home awards won not only for their steaks, burgers and sausages but for pies, tarts and other unconventional products too. They are a favourite of the Great Taste awards, winning in 2012 for their grass-fed sirloin steak and twice in 2014 for their chicken and ham pies and for their game pie. They also won first place at the Bramley Apple Festival in 2013. “It’s nice to win awards for doing something you love” says Dean.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA
To immerse themselves in the local community, Greenmount make use of social media in order to keep their customers up to date with their seasonal deals, changing stock and changes to opening times.
In the winter, they used Facebook to notify their customers of deals on reasonably priced lighter sticks, coal and logs, while in the spring they alerted them to a freezer clearance sale of up to 75% off.
They have also been uploading mouth-watering photos on their Facebook and Instagram page of their BBQ range, and photos promoting the delicious food at Darby’s Bridge.
In order to ensure they support the community by hiring local, they also advertise when they are hiring on Facebook, supporting the community by providing employment in shop, farm and restaurant staff. Their hard work is rewarded on social media with many customers giving five-star reviews and visiting regularly due to great food and excellent service.
After a gleaming review in the Irish News, Darby’s Bridge is a new and exciting venture for the family. Dean spoke about how food was always important in his family and how it has passed naturally down to his son Stephen, who thought of the idea for the restaurant.
“I always wanted him to choose his own path in life and he did by going to university to study engineering, but it is nice he has come back to his roots. He has taken an interest in the family business but has made it his own through Darby’s Bridge” says Dean.
In an ever-changing market and uncertainty regarding how Brexit will affect the farming trade, Dean explains how important it is to keep up with changing trends and how they never stop learning and developing their business.
They strive to draw people away from supermarkets in favour of home grown produce through their affordable deals and excellent personal customer satisfaction that can only be found in local produce.
Greenmount has big plans for the future. By the end of this year, they plan to revamp their online shop so that they can provide a delivery service to customers, promote their events room on site to cater for birthday parties and other events, and provide a fully-fledged Christmas dinner service for businesses to provide to their staff.
They have also planted 10,000 trees in order to promote local biodiversity, with the hope of providing scenic walking paths for locals as an extension to their farm. They plan to take their excellent reputation and grow on it by extending their catchment area across Northern Ireland, continuing to adapt and change while also providing reliable excellent customer service. Greenmount Farm Shop are proven trailblazers in their field and remain strong contenders on the local produce scene; one to watch in the future of the industry.