A one-day information session on the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) for horticultural growers will take place in Birr, Co. Offaly tomorrow (Thursday, February 29).

The event has been organised by the National Organic Training Skillnet (NOTS) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) Organic Unit.

Attendees will hear from DAFM staff, the Organic Growers of Ireland, Teagasc, the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA), and many of the leading organic growers in Ireland. 

The event will be held at the County Arms Hotel in Birr tomorrow from 10:00a.m until 4:00p.m, with a full organic lunch included. No costs apply when signed up through NOTS.

Organic horticulture event

The organic horticulture information session in Birr tomorrow will be opened by DAFM Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett.

“Organic fruit and vegetables are often the first step for consumers when buying organic food. There is huge potential for us to replace imported food and provide an income for hard-working Irish growers.

“We can do much more to support organic horticultural growers, and this event is a real opportunity for us to share and exchange knowledge as we strive to grow the sector,” she said.

Everybody with an interest in organic horticulture is welcome to attend, including growers, gardeners, market gardeners, farmers, processors, and retailers, Minister Hackett said.

There will be dedicated questions and answers sessions after each presentation, as well as interactive roundtable workshops with key stakeholders at the event.

Sessions/discussion topics will include:

  • Opening address by Minister Pippa Hackett;
  • Setting up and running a small market garden (Jim Cronin);
  • The steps to joining the Organic Farming Scheme;
  • Discussion of the DAFM €8,000 turnover threshold;
  • Sourcing an advisor and key benefits;
  • What is an FBO number, and how do you get it?;
  • Applying for a DVO number, what it is and why do you need it?;
  • Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) application – what’s involved and how to achieve it?;
  • Putting together an organic business plan;
  • What other supports are available?;
  • Roundtable workshops related to the above topics, there will be horticulture and advisory experts on hand to answer questions and assist with dissemination of information.

“From a land-use perspective, organic vegetable growers produce more crops per hectare than any other land use type,” according to NOTS manager, Sean McGloin.

The aim of the event is to inform small growers of what supports are out there for them if they join the OFS and help outline how growers can access these supports, McGloin added.