Pulse PR is delighted to be representing Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend, which takes place virtually on Friday 30 July-Sunday 1 August, is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a packed schedule of virtual activities to showcase Northern Ireland food and farming at its best.
The initiative, led by the Ulster Farmers’ Union, with Bank of Ireland renewing its title sponsorship, is yet again set to capture the imagination of families and foodies from across the province and give a real behind the scenes snapshot of the local farm to fork story.
Edwin Poots, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, said: “Our agri-food industry in NI is renowned worldwide for producing high quality, wholesome, nutritious and award-winning food. Educating and making consumers aware of the source of their food, and the hard work by our farmers in continuing to produce these high quality products, has an important part to play in maintaining demand for our local produce. My Department’s continued support in the delivery of Open Farm Weekend helps meet that task.”
“I would like to thank the Bank of Ireland for their continued commitment to this important initiative, which is now in its 10th year, to the UFU in leading delivery along with all the other supporting partners. To the farms that are participating, I know that it can be a challenge to prepare and open up your farms to the general public, even in the virtual world, but I commend the hard work and passion that the host farms put in to making the weekend so successful. I would encourage people to view the virtual events to gain an understanding of the efforts of our farmers and industry in continuing to provide food on all our tables, especially during a very challenging year.”
Although visitors are unable to physically attend farms again this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, the online activities shown throughout the weekend on Open Farm Weekend’s social media channels and website will still give the public the chance to connect with more than 20 farms from across the province.
Richard Primrose, Bank of Ireland UK Agri-Business Manager, said: “The growth and prosperity of the wider NI economy relies heavily on a thriving agri-food industry. The last year in particular has shown how vital this industry is to communities within NI and we’re proud to be the title sponsor again to show our support. By continuing the online format for Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend, it will give farmers the chance to showcase their farms to new audiences. It will also provide the perfect opportunity to practically illustrate and educate consumers on how our local food is produced.”
Online viewers will get the chance to discover the wonderful range of fresh farm produce from Northern Ireland and celebrate our food heroes by interacting online with farmers who have been providing vital food and drink supplies over the last number of months.
Ulster Farmers’ Union Deputy President David Brown added; “We are delighted to be in a position to host Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend again this year, especially as this is the tenth time our farm families have so enthusiastically stepped up and embraced the event, albeit it in a slightly different format. We are indebted to our title sponsor Bank of Ireland whose support has enabled us to deliver an engaging Open Farm Weekend programme of activities across the three days.
“Our aim with Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is to showcase the outstanding contribution our farms and farm families make in producing the quality food we so often take for granted. The last 12 months have brought about a heightened awareness of where our food comes from and puts the local supply chain at the forefront of our minds. We encourage everyone to get behind this year’s event and celebrate the wonderful produce available right here in Northern Ireland.”
Sponsors for Open Farm Weekend 2021 include: Bank of Ireland | Asda | NFU Mutual | Livestock and Meat Commission NI (LMC) | Moy Park| Irish Farmers’ Journal
Life coach Siobhan Kearney, who specialises in supporting companies with employee wellbeing, is hosting a free online workshop on Tuesday 23 March to address the significant rise in individuals who are concerned about returning to the workplace after lockdown.
Available for all business sectors, the workshop will offer practical advice and steps for employers who want to provide a safe working environment for employees and also for employees who need space to think through how they feel about returning to the workplace and how they can prepare for it.
Siobhan, who owns and runs At One Wellbeing and has more than 10 years’ experience in the area of mental health and wellbeing, has worked with businesses across the board who recognise the importance staff wellbeing has on productivity. Throughout her career, particularly since the pandemic, she has offered practical support to help companies develop bespoke approaches to the wellbeing of their staff.
She said, “Lockdown has caused many of us to feel overworked, stressed, and worn out, but returning to the workplace also presents its own challenges. Preparing to return to work can cause fear for personal safety while commuting to work using public transport, the anxiety of seeing colleagues again face to face after a prolonged separation or if they have lost family members during the pandemic, and the fact that having been in lockdown for such a long time, they may have suffered from mental ill health themselves.”
Having a well thought out strategy that is structured and planned in advance, Siobhan believes will give employers confidence and make employees feel that their mental wellbeing is being valued by their employer.
She added, “A first point that could be considered by employers even before staff return to a working environment, is to find out how they feel about returning to working in the office or on site. A health and wellbeing survey could be completed with employees to gauge the main issues from lockdown and results may be used to inform any future wellbeing programme. This is only the tip of the iceberg and during the workshop we will tease out other ideas and help formulate a checklist of activity to give everyone confidence going forward.”
Topics that will be covered in the workshop include:
The importance of communication
Physical changes to the office environment
New protocols and procedures
Finding a balance between safety and anxiety
How to foster optimism
The workshop will take place on zoom on Tuesday 23 March at 12.30-1.15pm. To register for this free event please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Minimum 10 participants.
Two leading fashion retailers that use the IRP e-commerce platform to sell their collections online have seen a combined increase in sales of almost 400% in the past six weeks.
DV8 Fashion, who has 50 stores on the island of Ireland and offers a portfolio of the world’s best fashion retail brands, as well as family run womenswear retailer Jonzara, whose anchor store is in Lisburn’s Bow Street, have seen an explosion in online sales since the latest lockdown restrictions temporarily closed retail outlets across Ireland.
Selling mainly to customers in the UK and Ireland, the IRP platform also shows through data from its Insights Terminal, that shoppers in the Republic of Ireland are seemingly at the front of the queue when it comes to purchasing a new wardrobe, with combined sales for DV8 and Jonzara increasing by 500% over the same period in 2020.
Philip Macartney from IRP Commerce, the e-commerce platform that has transacted over £1 billion in online sales for Irish companies puts the increase in clothing sales down to several factors including the new regulations introduced for online retail on the back of Brexit.
“A percentage of sales are down to seasonal changes as we move from winter into spring and also because many of us have more disposable income as we aren’t going on holiday this year. However, after closely studying data from the IRP Insights Terminal, we believe the uplift is because shoppers in the Republic, when purchasing from Northern Irish retailers, do not incur the VAT and excise duty costs they currently face when shopping from an online retailer in Great Britain.
“Ultimately our IRP Insights show that our Irish customers, such as DV8 and Jonzara have an excellent opportunity to sell to their domestic market and outperform significantly in terms of online growth. Our team and technology and the IRP ecosystem as a whole, have delivered in very challenging circumstances and proved yet again that our profit focussed approach is the best road to success for Irish retailers in online selling.”
More information on IRP Commerce can be found here
Fresh food home delivery company, Moo to You, which was established at the beginning of lockdown last year, has now introduced a new line of home cookery kits with locally sourced ingredients and an easy step-by-step recipe guide.
The ‘Meals by Moo’ meal kits were created after customer research showed households in Northern Ireland wanted convenient recipe ideas to cook at home since lockdown restrictions have temporarily closed many restaurants across the province.
Similar to Hello Fresh which, along with other UK home delivery companies currently supply more than 5,000 meal kits to households in Northern Ireland, Moo to You is hoping to tap into this lucrative market by offering a local delivery service, using local produce from local suppliers.
Moo to You founder Chris Wilson, along with business development manager Stephen Lynn, a former Flybe pilot who lost his job before the first lockdown, are confident in the longevity of the new service after he saw the success of Moo to You over the last 12 months.
Chris says, “Our Moo to You delivery service has gone from strength to strength and based on our customer feedback and requests for a local version of convenient meal kits we felt it was time to introduce Meals by Moo.
“What makes them so popular we believe is because our fresh ingredients are locally sourced from quality Northern Irish producers. This uses minimal packaging and reduces food miles as our deliveries are made by our friendly drivers and not couriered by air from Great Britain. Not only is this much better for the environment but it also means we can deliver at a very competitive price.
“Meals by Moo also offers convenience and flexibility, we do not employ a subscription service like other home food delivery companies, meaning customers can order what they want, when they want. We hope the simple to follow meal kits will help retain and enhance our loyal customers’ experience and expand our new customer base.”
Examples of Meals by Moo meal kits include Thai Green Curry and Garlic and Herb Chicken.
Moo to You employs 10 staff and operates from its hub at Streamvale Farm in Dundonald. Its fleet of vans deliver to households across Northern Ireland. Find out more about Meals by Moo at www.mootoyou.co.uk