The Norris family are leading potato and grain growers as well as beef and sheep farmers based in Moville, Co. Donegal. Andrew, Crawford and William Norris along with Malachy McDermott run the different enterprises on the 700-acre Glebe Farm holding.
The Norris’ have been growing and supplying high quality potatoes for four generations. Constantly evolving, the family also grow their own barley to feed their cattle and sheep which are in turn supplied to C&J Meats in Lifford, Kepak in Athleague, Co. Roscommon and Irish Country Meats in Camolin, Co. Wexford.
“We grow 70 acres of potatoes and 80 acres of winter and spring barley every year,” Andrew Norris explains.
“We also finish 400 cattle indoors and a further 50 on grass each year. We buy in young bulls and bullocks every Christmas which we fatten and send for slaughter the following Christmas. The barley is mixed and fed to the cattle with a Keenan diet feeder. Furthermore, we buy in 1,500 store lambs in the latter part of the year. They graze the land after the bulls go indoors in August.”
Andrew and William are committed to carrying on the family’s proud tradition of growing quality and tasty potatoes. “It’s what we’re best known for. Our potatoes are Bord Bia Quality Assured and are renowned for their quality and taste. Donegal is synonymous with potato growing, and our location on the banks of the River Foyle, where we don’t get much frost and there is good free-draining and south-facing land, is particularly suited to growing the humble spud,” notes Andrew, whose father Samuel and uncle William Snr took a step back from the family-run business a few years ago.
The Norris’ grow a range of potato varieties, including British Queen (early variety), Kerr’s Pink (main crop) and Rooster (main crop). A firm favourite with Norris Potatoes’ mostly local customer-base, Kerr’s Pinks are a traditional main crop variety which have a pink skin and a creamy white flesh with a flourier texture. They tend to be flourier than Rooster and therefore slightly more care is needed when cooking.
“About 70% of our produce are sold within a 15-mile radius of Moville where Kerr’s Pink is the most-consumed potato.”
As well as growing potatoes for consumption, Norris Potatoes specialise in growing certified seed for other growers, mostly as a dual crop. The Norris’ have an array of machinery to sow, maintain and harvest their crops, including a fleet of John Deere tractors which are serviced by Agri-Power in Lifford. They also operate a range of Grimme de-stoners, harvesters and planters.
Once harvested, the potatoes are weighed, brushed, graded and packed in an on-site production facility that boasts a state-of-the-art Tong Engineering grading line. A new shed and cold store were recently added to the premises. The potatoes are packed into 2.5kg, 5kg and 10kg bags and are supplied mainly to local shops and supermarkets, with the surplus going to packers.
All of the work is done in-house as Andrew explains: “We do our own ploughing, sowing, harvesting and spraying. Our aim is to be as self-sufficient as possible. We are constantly reinvesting in equipment, which allows us to provide an efficient, professional and value-for-money service.
“We have a wealth of experience behind us and pride ourselves in our excellent produce. Above all else, we want to ensure that our customers are 100% happy with our potatoes.”
He continues: “Potato sales were boosted by a rise in home cooking during the pandemic. Having rekindled their interest in potatoes during lockdown, we’re hoping that potatoes will continue to be a staple diet for consumers. Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which makes them very healthy. They are also convenient and easy to prepare.”
For the past couple of years, Norris Potatoes have run several competitions on Facebook which have proven to be hugely popular. The latest competition challenged children to dress up for St Patrick’s Day and submit their photos in the absence of a St Patrick’s Day Parade in Moville due to the pandemic. The family are grateful for the following and support they receive from the local community on their social media platform.
Passionate about farming for four generations, the Norris family would like to take this opportunity to thank their customers and suppliers for their continued support.
Telephone: 086 8874571
Email: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 4, July/August 2021