Over 1,000 visitors descended upon Agri Aware’s Open Farm Day on the Fitzgerald’s dairy farm in Kilmagemogue, Portlaw, Co. Waterford.
Despite worrying heavy clouds in the morning, at 11am when gates opened for the one day event, the sun began to shine and remained throughout the course of the day.
Visitors both young and old arrived to Kilmagemogue with smiles and an eagerness to learn all there is to know about producing quality milk in a sustainable fashion.
Visitors on the day were given a map upon arrival of the event, with visitors arriving at the main yard before making their way down the biodiversity trail.
Along this trail, visitors were able to walk along a designated path both on the main farm roadway and through the paddocks to the see and learn about the milking cows, calves, flora, fauna and soil as well as finding out what the Fitzgerald’s are doing for the environment.
Back to the main yard, the National Dairy Council’s Majella McCafferty was situated in the milking parlour talking about how the cows graze grass and convert it to milk and how that milk the cows produces is ends up in the shops.
Beside the parlour, in the paddock nearest to the yard was the main stage area. At the mainstage, renowned Waterford-based chef Paul Flynn carried out three cooking demonstrations.
In between the cooking demonstrations, two panel discussions were held. The first one being chaired by Agri Aware’s Executive Director Marcus O’Halloran. This panel consisted of the Fitzgerald family and Agri Aware Chairman Shay Galvin. We heard from the Fitzgeralds about the history of the farm and how it has evolved to the present day. While Agri Aware Chairman, Shay Galvin spoke about the important work Agri Aware does in relation to its school programmes and the events it runs such as today’s Open Farm.
The second panel discussion consisted of event partners, including Bill Callanan of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mary Harrington of the National Dairy Council, Ann-Marie Butler of Teagasc, Thomas Ryan of Tirlan, Elaine Houlihan of Macra na Feirme and Brian Rushe of the Irish Farmers’ Association.
Each panellist was asked ‘What does dairy mean to you’ which resulted in a fascinating discussion which saw the visitors listening in engage with and questions to.
On the day, food vendors and an ice cream truck were there to feed and water everyone, while for the younger visitors they had the treat of having their faces painted, playing games, including having a go on a farm machinery simulator, and seeing the Agri Aware Mobile Farm.
For the machinery enthusiasts that were there on the day, they were treated to some pristine vintage machinery.
The day was brought to an end with some live music before watching the cows coming in for the evening milking.