Getting Back to Business with Local Enterprise Office Donegal

Donegal Farmhouse Cheese and Natnoot

Getting Back to Business with Local Enterprise Office Donegal

James and Noreen Cunningham of Donegal Farmhouse Cheese developed their new online shop with a Trading Online Voucher from Local Enterprise Office Donegal

As the country enters the first phase of re-opening, Local Enterprise Office Donegal continues to support businesses in the county as they navigate their way through the current crisis. 

While the Covid-19 pandemic brought unprecedented trading challenges, it has been used by many businesses as an opportunity to make strategic or operational changes. One Donegal business used the shutdown as an opportunity to increase its future trading capacity by developing an online shop. Donegal Farmhouse Cheese secured a Trading Online Voucher through Local Enterprise Office Donegal to fund a new website, which launched earlier this week.

Based in Kilcar, Donegal Farmhouse Cheese was set up in November 2018 by James and Noreen Cunningham: “We have a small farm of cattle and sheep and wanted to diversify the farm and add value in different ways,” Noreen said. “Using traditional techniques, and with the help of Local Enterprise Office Donegal and Teagasc, we started producing our handmade Kilard cheddar; a semi-hard cheese produced annually from May to September when the cows are grazing. Kilard Cheddar is handmade from pasteurised cow’s milk, contains no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives and is suitable for vegetarians. The fresh summer grass on the Donegal shores gives our cheese a distinctive flavour reflecting all that is unique about the Donegal countryside. Working with Local Enterprise Office Donegal helped us improve the efficiency of our cheese-making process with a Priming Grant and the COVID -19 support for the new website will help us reach new customers with our online shop, which went live this week” Noreen added. 

Derek Walker of Natnoot also works closely with the Local Enterprise Office to help his business, which was established in 2014: “We began selling wheatgrass juice shots and Turmeric juice shots at farmers’ markets and food festivals,” Derek said. “In 2019, we scaled up and started supplying around 30 retail stores locally in Donegal. We then developed three new products and began producing 250ml bottles of cold pressed juices combining fruit, vegetables, and superfood juices to make tasty and healthy juice drinks. The products proved popular locally, so we wanted to take the business to the next level.”

Derek and Anna Walker of Natnoot are growing their juice business with the help of an expansion grant from Donegal Local Enterprise Office

“We joined the Supervalu Food Academy programme and applied for an expansion grant with Donegal Local Enterprise Office. With the help of grant aid, we upgraded our juicery last September by installing a commercial cold pressed juicer; this allowed us to increase our stockists to 150 stores nationwide. Naturally, this pandemic has been tough, as we had several other contracts secured that have been shelved for now, but I really believe the increase in business that we achieved in 2019 with the help of our Local Enterprise Office has left us in a very good position to continue producing. When the situation allows, we are determined to pick up where we left off and continue growing our team and the business” he said.

Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise Donegal is encouraging businesses to avail of the many supports on offer through the Local Enterprise Office: “Our team is delighted to help businesses like Donegal Farmhouse Cheese and Natnoot grow their business and develop their trading capacity. A wide range of measures has been made available from the government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the level of awareness and interest from businesses in the county has been exceptional. I would encourage any business experiencing difficulties to talk to us about accessing these supports.”

To find out more about the supports available, including free mentoring, Trading Online Vouchers, grant aid and advice on starting your own business, contact the team on info@leo.donegalcoco.ie or call 074 9160735. 

For more information on Donegal Farmhouse Cheese visit www.donegalfarmhousecheese.ie and to find out more about Natnoot cold pressed juices visit www.natnoot.ie

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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