FARMERS, food producers and artisans in the Burren are reaping the benefits of agritourism initiatives this summer as visitors flock to try unique food experiences in the region.
As people holiday at home this year, experiences such as food trails, foraging walks, food visitor experiences and farm stays have all become popular, according to Jarlath O’Dwyer, CEO of the Burren Ecotourism Network, which represents over 70 diverse businesses in the region.
“For farmers, agritourism offers an opportunity to diversify and create supplementary income,” he said.
“Many enjoy the social aspect of meeting people and share their special stories about the food, agriculture and biodiversity of the region.
“For visitors, it allows them to connect with the land, the people, the animals and learn more about where their food comes from while enjoying beautiful landscapes of the Burren.
“There really is no better place for visitors to learn about the region than from those who have farmed the land for generations.”
The Burren Ecotourism Network has a wide variety of farming businesses in the group, all focused on sustainable tourism and complying to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark Code of Sustainable Practice.
One of the success stories for agri-businesses in the region has been the development of the Burren food story.
This has seen groups of producers, farmers and chefs come together to organise trails and events to highlight the rich history of food production in the area, which dates back to the 12th century and the Cisterian Monks at Corcomroe Abbey.
“We are fortunate to have that rich food story here already, with such a huge variety of producers and top quality restaurants, which has inspired us to develop the Burren food trail and events such as the Burren Slow Food Fayre and Burren Slow Food Festival,” said Mr O’Dwyer.
“This year, The Burren Food Fayre will take place on the October Bank Holiday Weekend for the tenth year in succession. It coincides with the Burren Winterage Festival which celebrates the ancient custom of out-wintering cattle on the upland areas of the Burren, and is organised by Burren Beo.”
Birgitta Curtin, Chairperson of The Burren Food Trail added: “These events organised in conjunction with the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark have resulted in bringing more tourists to the area in previous years as visitors tend to make a weekend of it.”
Recently the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark joined the UNESCO ‘Geofood’ brand which promotes sustainable agriculture and conservation and supports farmers and communities in the area.
“UNESCO Global Geoparks are not only about geology, they are very much about how geology shapes landscapes, communities and culture, and how these can be conserved and sustained,” said Carol Gleeson, Manager the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.
UNESCO Global Geoparks have developed a ‘Geofood’ quality label with a clear philosophy of supporting the sustainable development of local communities by promoting locally produced food of the highest quality.
‘Geofood’ can only be used in UNESCO Global Geoparks designated areas. The brand emphasizes the connection between local food and local geology, protects biodiversity, promotes sustainable food production, responsible use of water and waste recycling, seasonality, reduces food miles, and increases local economic impacts. These actions work towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Agritourism initiatives in the Burren are funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the 2021 Rural Innovation Development Fund.
Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at [email protected] or telephone 065 6864146.