It is said that the Tipperary Food Producers Network started because of a meal, or perhaps two! In 2007, Lorraine McGuinness, Slow Food Ireland decided to host a Long Table Dinner in the orchards of The Apple Farm near Cahir. In attendance at that meal were guests involved in food in Tipperary and that gathering inspired Pat Whelan (James Whelan Butchers) to get the wheels in motion in 2008.
This first project was to launch a website of Tipperary foods, but more importantly, to bring together a cohort of producers for a meal, that would be the beginning of our food community. This time the Long Table was held in Cahir Castle. The produce of 14 Tipperary Producers was enjoyed, along with other stakeholders of food in the county. The aim was to highlight how these 14 producers were employing 180 people locally and turning over €15 million. The meal and its significance was covered by Nationwide on Irish National Television. This key event brought about the establishment of a network.
The first Network meeting was held in 2009 at the Cashel Palace Hotel, with Pat Whelan of James Whelan butchers as Chairman. Projects were embarked upon, both public-facing and for members of the network. We wanted to engage in shared learning, to share our individual knowledge and resources and to share in each-others foods. The vision was always to position Tipperary as the cradle of nourishment, by virtue of its natural environment and the integrity of its food producers.
Some of the highlight events since 2008 include:
In 2019, we have a total of 32 Tipperary Food Producer Network members and growing. Our vibrant network of dedicated producers includes cheesemakers and bee-keepers, fruit farmers and cider makers, butchers and bakers and sauce and jam makers. We have producers of ice-cream and sorbet, vegetable oil, as well as sweets, chocolates and crisps. We even have members making corn tortillas and peanut butter. Many of the producers work directly on the land and personally deliver the finest quality offerings from what nature provides, in turn making these elements into something special. We have the world-renowned Cashel Blue Cheese, to more local specialities like Boulabán Farm ice-cream and Emerald Oils, all made on their family farms. Other members source their raw materials in the Tipperary area and use these to make their wonderful products like Julian and Helen, who forage the hedges of Tipperary for their elderflower raw material, using this to make delicious refreshing Irish Hedgerow drinks. There is Galtee Honey at the Southern end of Tipperary, where the Mac Giolla Coda family produce honey & have been instrumental in saving the native Irish honey bee from extinction through their rearing and care of queen bees for the past three decades. The examples are as numerous as our members…
We are proud of what we have achieved over the years. Hopefully you too can enjoy our great produce when visiting by enjoying Tipperary produce in our hotels, B&Bs, cafes, restaurants and also visiting our producers this summer through our Tipperary Food Experiences 2019.