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Minister Smith launches Programme of Seasonal Food Market Events in OPW Heritage Sites

Market opportunity for small-scale food producers and food tourism

Speaking today at the launch of the Bord Bia/OPW farmers markets programme for 2006 at Emo Court, Emo, Co, Laois, Mr. Brendan Smith TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Food and Horticulture at the Department of Agriculture and Food said: "I am delighted that the 'Food at Farmleigh' concept is being extended to five regional Heritage sites managed by the Office of Public Works. I was myself impressed by the success of the Farmleigh farmers market in creating a new specialty food experience and considered that there was potential for similar regional events."

The programme, jointly developed by Bord Bia and OPW at the request of Ministers Smith and Parlon, will, Minister Smith said, commence on Sunday, 26th February in Fota House and Gardens, when a Food Market Event will be held from 11am to 4pm. Heritage sites in Wexford, Kildare, Donegal and Laois will host seasonal one day Events in a cycle spread over the year:

JFK Arboretum

Wexford May
Castletown House Kildare July
Newmills, Letterkenny Donegal September
Emo Court Laois December

Minister Smith urged the local communities, County Councils and Chambers of Commerce together with local food producers to support this joint food and heritage promotion. "This opportunity for promoting regional foods in heritage surroundings will, I hope, stimulate benefits for tourism and the local food economy. The success of the initiative will depend on the extent of the community interest and response it attracts and is key to planning more Food Day Events on these Heritage sites."

Minister Smith added: "There are now more than 100 farmers' markets in operation in Ireland, reflecting increased demand for fresh locally produced foods. Consumers can enjoy and participate in the development of local and regional speciality foods. For producers, they provide an alternative direct route to market and an opportunity for innovation and test marketing of new products as well as generating income. Heritage sites can provide a further dimension to promoting food and tourism."

Concluding, Minister Smith congratulated OPW and Bord Bia on their joint work and partnership to bring the concept to programme stage for 2006.

7 February 2006

NOTE FOR EDITORS

Bord Bia, the agency responsible for developing the promotion of Irish food, drink and horticulture, saw the potential of farmers markets early on and promoted the 'Food at Farmleigh' model which attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually. In co-operation with Invest Northern Ireland, Bord Bia published a comprehensive guide on the operation of farmers markets, available on their website (www.bordbia.ie).

Their Small Business Department provides advice and mentoring assistance.

Bord Bia is liaising with Dublin City Council as part of the Smithfield Regeneration programme and the proposed development of the Fruit, Vegetable and Fish markets. Interested parties were invited to make submissions on the proposed regeneration to the Dublin City Planner and a consultative forum, including Bord Bia, was established. This initiative will provide small food producers with direct access to the lucrative Dublin market.

Date Released: 07 February 2006