Dowth man is young farmer of year
Dowth farmer Jonathan Marry is the FBD Young Farmer of the Year. The 27 year-old Tullyallen Macra member won the prestigious title following a challenging interview process and on-farm visit. Judging panel member, Prof Gerry Boyle, director of Teagasc, announced the winner at an awards ceremony in the Twin Trees Hotel, Ballina, Co Mayo. Jonathan wins a travel bursary worth €3,000.
The competition is organised by Macra na Feirme in partnership with the IFA and sponsors, FBD. Aaron Forde, director and chairman of Ornua, and chief executive officer of Aurivo Co-operative Society Limited, chaired the final judging panel of Dr Vanessa Woods, Agri Aware; Willie Fahey, former CEO of IFAC Accountants; Prof Gerry Boyle; Joe Healy, former Macra president; and Dr Tommy Boland of UCD.
What made him stand out from other competitors was his catering business, the Pig Spit and BBQ Company. Four years ago, Jonathan bought a single pig roasting machine with the aim of earning some extra money through local catering gigs.
Now, with a total of six machines, he and a chef travel to functions across the country on weekends, doing an average of four pigs every week. The team has served up at least 70 pigs so far this summer, he estimates, adding that he hopes to double that number next year.
His father, Jack Marry, who died in 2008, was one of Ireland’s most well-known pig farmers. The farm now holds 540 sows, with fattening accommodation for 800 pigs. Jonathan is one of three full-time staff farming the land at present. New pigs are born there every day, while some 230 go to slaughter every week. About 200 weaners are sold off site in any given month. His next big goal is to make the farm entirely self-sufficient by building 800 extra fattening places.
Jonathan is a committee member of the European Pig Producers’ Irish branch, and has travelled to Europe on several occasions to visit other pig farms and attend conferences.
Meath East deputy, Helen McEntee, said: “Congratulations to Jonathan on winning the FBD Young Farmer of the Year. This is a huge achievement and is testament to the hard work and commitment Jonathan has shown since he took over the running of the family farm in 2009. As well as running a hugely successful farm with 540 sows he also runs a side line pig spit business. Jonathan’s ingenuity, drive and ambition is a fantastic example for other young farmers. I wish Jonathan all the very best for the future and no doubt his farm and business will continue to thrive over the coming years”.