Home » Breaking News » Ringing the changes in Lisdoon
Lieke Schoneman, Marian O'Loughlin, Karin Funke, Jan Strozer, Richard Jones, Nicole Pennekamp and Marie Urquhart. Photograph by Natasha Barton

Ringing the changes in Lisdoon

More than 250 North Clare people have joined REKO Meitheal Lisdoonvarna, a new form of farmers’ market which has started to take off in recent months.
REKO is a Finnish trading movement which aims to promote local producers and encourage fair consumption.
Thousands of REKO-rings, or local markets, have been established across Scandinavia and northern Europe in recent years, with the first Irish REKO ring being set up in Lahinch in 2018.
REKO rings are different to farmers’ markets in that all the purchasing is done online each week, usually through a dedicated Facebook page, and the ring itself is only for exchanging the pre-ordered products for payment.
This has a number of benefits for both customers and producers, with both knowing exactly what they are buying and selling before the ring even starts.
Because no transactions are taking place during the REKO ring itself, it means that the event can take place anywhere, and doesn’t have to be located in designated market areas and market times.
REKO Meitheal Lisdoonvarna takes place at 6pm every Thursday evening, and according to founder Karin Funke, it is already proving to be a great success.
“Every week the producers post what they have on offer for that week. They put a picture up on our page saying that they have 50 heads of lettuce at €2 a head, for example. The people who are in the group can order simply by commenting underneath that post. It’s very simple,” she said.
“After that we all meet up every Thursday in the carpark in Lisdoonvarna, opposite the Imperial Hotel, and we exchange the goods for money. It is a very simple process and it has been working really well so far, we have been growing steadily since we started on May 9. We have already grown to be about 250 members in total, and it is growing all the time.
“At the moment we are offering baked goods like pies, breads, scones and cookies, we also have vegetables and products like elderflower syrup, we have chicken and duck eggs and we even have some natural remedies.
“There is lots of scope for more producers so if anybody wants to come on board, we would be delighted. All they have to do is join the group and then they can start posting.”
A key part of the REKO philosophy is that it encourages local consumers to support local producers and crafts people.
“One of the great things about this is that local people can support each other and they can buy from a local person that they know and trust. One great example of this is Lieke from Lieke’s Natural Way, she grows plants like tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries and plants like that so people can grow them themselves, that is her unique selling point,” said Karin.
“If you go to a garden centre, let’s say, and get the plants there, you don’t know what they might have been treated with. It’s the same with the eggs and the vegetables. They might not be organically certified, because it takes a lot of time to be certified, but they are definitely organic.
“You know who you are buying from so there is much more trust there. And you are cutting out the middle man so it is much cheaper for the customer and more of the money goes to the person who is doing the work.
“It is very important not to be so dependent on the supermarkets for everything and not to be so dependent on the supply chains.
“We all saw how quickly they could break down when Brexit happened. But another important reason is for all of us to get to know the people who are in our community.
“Some people come from farther away. We have some people who come from Ennis and from Inagh, and it is great to get to know what they are producing and what they are growing.
“This all helps to grow a sense of community. We get to know each other, the knowledge that we can share with each other is also very important.
“That is why I included the word meitheal in the name, REKO Meitheal Lisdoonvarna. It is about the producers coming together, and for the customer it is about the food coming from a source that they trust.”
The REKO ring is also very convenient for producers, as it saves them time and waste as they only have to bring the exact number of products that have been ordered to each ring.
“Farmers’ markets are great but they will always take at least half a day. It is lovely to be able to spend that time talking to people, but it does take time,” said Karin.
“REKO rings are much more efficient in that way. It’s a very quick meet-up, there is no waste, because you know exactly what you are going to sell before you get there. There are some nice advantages to it over a farmers’ market.”
To become involved in the REKO ring, simply search Facebook for REKO Meitheal Lisdoonvarna.
“If people search for the group on Facebook they can apply to join. Once they apply, I will approve them, I approve everyone, and when they are a member they can invite other people to become members,” said Karin.
“After each Thursday I clear away all the offers from the producers. Then, over the next few days, the producers put up new posts saying what they have on offer that week. It’s all very simple.”

About Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

Check Also

Common threads set to entwine in two day Burren festival

THIS OCTOBER the breathtaking surroundings of the Burren will provide the epic backdrop for Common …