The strategy, commissioned by Donegal County Enterprise Board in conjunction with the other state development agencies, was prepared with input from representatives from all of the sectors within the food industry in County Donegal.
A wonderfully diverse assembly of food producers, chefs, butchers, retailers, restaurateurs, food festival organisers and food writers, along with members of the county development committees attended the launch. A fabulous selection of the best of local county food, supplied by some of the Donegal’s best (but not yet all well-known) food producers, was on display and also an amazing buffet had been prepared by Michelle Hunter’s kitchen at Glenveagh Tea Rooms kitchen for tasting.
The Donegal Food Strategy sets outs an ambitious vision for food within Donegal and seeks to make Donegal a county famous for food and recognised as a pioneering region for its approach to fostering and growing new and existing food businesses.
|Chef Gary O’Hanlon speaking at the launch of the Donegal Food Strategy
Gary O’Hanlon, Executive Chef at Viewmount House is now filling the role as Food Ambassador for the Donegal Food Strategy and he emphasised the importance and opportunities there are in sourcing and using local quality produce.
“It’s a great honour for me to be appointed an Ambassador for Food for my home County” said Gary. “Chefs from Donegal are proud of where they’re from and proud of what they’re utilising.” “Nothing much comes out of bad economic times, but thankfully one thing that has come out this is that the whole food culture has been re-born in Ireland and people are starting to grow their own food again”.
An example of this, Gary said, was how Harry’s Bar, in Bridge End Co. Donegal, are now producing so much quality food from their walled garden that they are now looking to open a shop to sell on their produce to the general public. “The demand for quality local products are there” he said.
|Chef Gary O’Hanlon – the new Food Ambassador for County Donegal|
The Donegal Food Strategy identifies 83 key priority actions to be delivered on over the next 5 years. A critical priority identified in the Donegal Food Strategy report is the creation of a number of new food producer start-ups over the five year period. Research during the preparation of the report identified that there was a need for additional new food start-ups in the county which could give the county a better profile, both at national and international level and that these new food manufacturing businesses should be assisted “to fill a gap in the provision of products at local, regional, national and international level”.
|Fresh locally grown vegetables from Leghowney Country Market, near Donegal Town|
|Donegal Rapeseed Oil is an example of a well-developed Donegal food brand|
Donegal food producers (and in reality all Irish food producers) can aim to be part of this new growth, by working with retailers and restaurant purchasers to establish a network of local suppliers to share the word, so that locally grown Irish food can become a demanded international product.
|Baked Donegal Oysters with Bellingham Blue Cheese which is
made by cheesemaker and Donegal-man Peter Thomas