A local Galway farmer who took the bold decision to add snail farmer to his resume has taken home a prestigious prize from Teagasc for his highly successful business.
Steven Ryan from Tuam took home the 2019 NEWBIE farm entrant prize for taking the step to add snail farming to the traditional beef and sheep on the farm.
He first started this curious brand of livestock management in 2014, and Steven’s farm now produces more than 4,000kg of snails for export each year.
Speaking after receiving his award, Steven spoke passionately about the ability of snail farming to produce “a good income from a small piece of ground” to put a little extra in a farmer’s back pocket.
As a farming practice, it’s easy to work around the other seasons on the farm, he added, emphasising the potential there is in Ireland.
“We started out using Google and YouTube for information and through trial and error developed a system that suits the Irish climate,” Stephen said.
He is part of plans to develop a processing facility right here in Ireland, which its hoped will help kickstart a market right here at home.
John Moriarty, NEWBIE project advisor with Teagasc, said that Steven’s story could serve as an example to farmers considering diversifying their business.
“Steven has identified an enterprise that complimented the existing enterprises while maintaining a quality work-life balance,” John said.
he NEWBIE Network is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project with 10 European partners which aims to encourage the growth of sustainable farm businesses.
New entrants are defined in the Newbie network as anyone who starts a new farm business, or becomes involved in an existing farm business at any stage of their lives.
People getting into agriculture can face barriers in the form of access to land, capital, knowledge and labour, which the NEWBIE Network also aims to help people overcome.
The prize includes €500 towards training or an international farm visit, costs associated with the making of a farm video, a plaque for display on-farm, and the opportunity to attend a NEWBIE conference with other national winners from across Europe.