Ballymena Farmer Urges Public to Shop Local this Christmas

BALLYMENA farmer, seed potato plant breeder, and Past President of Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Robin Cherry of RJ Cherry & Son, has issued an appeal to the public to support local agri-food producers when shopping this Christmas.

With over 40 years’ experience in the agri-food production industry, RJ Cherry & Son specialise in growing Pak Choi and their own brand of potatoes known as Sunbeam and Carnlea Gold.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges for many industries over the past number of months, including the agri-food industry. That in addition to the ongoing uncertainty regarding Brexit and trading conditions, is why, according to Robin, it’s more important than ever for the public to support local farmers this year.

“Like many other businesses, local agri-food producers have also been feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Robin said.

“The impact of repeated lockdowns has meant greater challenges for farmers when it comes to selling their products to different markets. The past few months have also seen a greater reliance on supermarket shopping and at home delivery services, which means that local farmers who sell their produce to smaller fruit and vegetable shops have been hit particularly hard.”

“We have a number of farmers located across the length and breadth of Northern Ireland who work hard all year round to produce high quality food that’s the envy of many other countries – it would be a terrible shame if we were to lose that.”

Robin claims that agri-food such as potatoes, have a unique selling point in that they can be a great addition to just about any dish or recipe.

He added: “Apart from the fact that potatoes have been a staple part of our diets in this country for many, many years, they’re so versatile, nutritious, easy to cook with and can be added to just about anything. They can be a tasty addition to soups and stews and can be mashed, boiled, roasted, steamed or used to cook homemade chips and jacket potatoes – the possibilities are endless. Not to mention the fact that potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals which are essential for health and well-being.

“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to support our local farmers as much as possible this Christmas and even beyond the festive season. Remembering to purchase locally produced food is what will help get our fantastic farmers back on their feet again.”

RJ Cherry & Son supplies directly to the following locations where you can purchase Sunbeam potatoes:

Slemish Market Garden, Ecos Centre, Ballymena
K & G McAtamney Butchery & Deli, Greenvale Street Ballymena
Dayfresh shops in Ballymoney, Ahoghill, Cullybackey and Magherafelt
J Paul & Son Butcher in Kilrea

And also, at the RJ Cherry & Son farm, 38 Carnlea Rd, Ballymena BT43 6TS.