UK Credit Union visit Galway on Cultivate mission

REPRESENTATIVES of a UK Credit Union visited Galway last month to learn more about the Cultivate farm finance product which has proven to be very popular with western farmers.

Alan Hignett and Matthew Stevens from Hull Credit Union in Yorkshire travelled to Ireland to learn more on the growth of the Cultivate package which was started back in 2017 by a group of Galway Credit Unions.

Brendan Heneghan, Project Manager of Cultivate, organised a busy itinerary for their guests with a  first call to a dairy farm in Oranmore. The second stop over was to Naomh Breandain Credit Union in Loughrea – the hub of the Cultivate launch back in 2017.

Here, they were introduced to the four key people and founder members of Cultivate: David McDonnell CEO of Naomh Breandain CU; Anne McInerney, CEO of Gort CU; Gráinne Murphy, CEO of Ballinasloe CU and Mick Culkeen, former CEO of St Jarlath’s CU, Tuam. Niall Clarke and Margaret Loughnane, who were marketing managers in the early stages of the project, were also present.

At Kylemore Cheese in the picturesque village of Abbey near Loughrea, proprietor Teresa Roche, offered the visiting party an extensive tour of her business – both practical and theory.

Her father Bertie gave a full history of the Roche family and their dairy farming enterprise. Alan Hignett and Matthew Stevens then rolled up their sleeves and turned the whey into cheese which was then placed on a high shelf to mature.

Teresa’s idea fitted into the Cultivate concept perfectly, using the high-quality milk from the farm to make a distinctive local cheese. All left with a cheese sample from her enterprise.

Next up was a presentation from Colm Begley from Visualise at Naomh Breandáin CU where he detailed the Cultivate loan process from start to finish.

The final part of the day was a visit to Mountbellow Agricultural College – the venue where full training was given to the original group of students before meeting the farmers face-to-face in explaining the new Cultivate product.

Extensive training in the dairy, beef and sheep farming sectors was given from top class instructors back in 2017. This continues today with regular updates across the agriculture sector.

Pictured during the visit of Hull Credit Union to Galway last month were (back, left to right): Jasmine Astl, Frank Hynes, Brendan Heneghan, Matthew Stevens, Mick Culkeen and David McDonnell. (Front): Teresa Roche, Ciara Hickey, Bernie Diskin, Alan Hignett, Anne McInerney and Niall Clarke.  

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