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Heritage and specialty potato varieties take Ireland by storm

Maria Flynn at Ballymakenny Farm in Ireland is one remarkable lady – and so are the marvelous heritage and specialty potato varieties that she grows at Ballymakenny farm. The potatoes are marketed to high end restaurants in Ireland. Beautifully coloured creations they are – filled with the best nutritional value that only potatoes can offer. Where else can one go to find these, but to Ireland?

From humble beginnings just a few years back, the heritage and specialty potatoes grown at Ballymakenny Farm are today some of the most sought-after potatoes by high-end chefs and restaurateurs in the Irish culinary industry and beyond.

And all of this started when Maria Flynn wanted to create a “happy place” to escape to on her farm while the operation experienced trying times a couple of years ago.

“It was as if everything was going in the direction of a downward spiral,” Maria says. “I had to create some kind of ‘feel good’ corner on the farm where I could go…” Maria’s “go-to-place” became the heritage potato patch that is now delivering these exquisite potato range which is becoming very famous in all of Ireland.

Her undeterred commitment, dedicated and hard work, and the honest passion that she devotes to her potato variety operation are paying off royally today, day after day. Maria’s “happy place” eventually turned out to become her “happy business”…

A passion for coloured varieties

Talking with passion about the various coloured varieties that are produced on Ballymakenny Farm, Maria told The Taste, an Irish culinary website: “Our flagship product, Violetta, will always hold a special place in my heart. It is a lovely, colourful, great tasting potato.

The potato seed planted at Ballymakenny Farm is sourced from Skea Potatoes in Scotland. The colour is ingrained in the seed and it is produced by a naturally occuring anthocyanin – the same one that naturally occurs in beetroot.

“And because of the natural purple of the Violetta, it is high in antioxidants,” Maria told us.

As the business grew, Maria added new products to her colourful range, with Red Emmalie Potato, Pink Fir Apple Potato, Yukon Gold, micro baby potatoes and salad potatoes all on offer.

Maria also grows Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Kakettes, Long Stem Broccoli and Sweet Stem Cauliflower.

Importance of the culinary industry

Maria says the chefs in Ireland’s food industry influence what she will grow: “We try to grow produce that chefs would otherwise have to import.”

While Maria could imagine “100 different things to do with my life”, she loves what she does at Ballymakenny Farm, saying: “The fact is that we are farmers and we need to have a sustainable business and adapt to what I see as the changing landscape for farming in Ireland. Creating and driving forward a new business in our late 40’s was never the plan, but it became the necessity. The joy in it all is the utter pleasure the chefs are taking in what we grow, that keeps me going,” Maria told The Taste in an interview.

“The future plan for Ballymakenny Farm is to keep growing what the chefs want to cook. We have a 10-year-old who, so far, wants to be a farmer. So, the aim is to build something we can be proud of and leave it for him to take into the future, if that’s what he wants when the time comes. We also want to educate ourselves about making the farm more biodynamic and doing what we can to protect our wildlife.”

Awarded for outstanding efforts

Maria won two prestigious awards in 2018 because of her outstanding efforts: The W&A Women and Agriculture Award 2018 and the Eurotoques Award. She is very proud of this achievement, and rightfully so.

How to get in touch

For more information about Ballymakenny Farm and to stay up-to-date with all their latest news, you can visit them on Twitter – @BallymakennyF – where Maria maintains a lively and entertaining social networking group. Maria can be reached on on email at Mariaflynn70@gmail.com.

More information and pictures about the story and the varieties grown at Ballymakenny can be found on The Taste website: Thetaste.ie.

A picture collage of the heritage varieties can also be found here on the Potato News Today site.