27th October 2016
When asked to picture a farm people mostly paint the same picture- cattle, sheep, chickens and crops. However unusual farms exist all over the world- there are moose farms in Russia, edible cacti farms in the southwest USA and pearl farms in China.
Ostriches, alpacas and rabbits have all been farmed for commercial purposes in Ireland in the past. Below is a list of some of the more novel enterprises that could or do exist in Ireland.
While unusual from an Irish perspective, heliciculture has enjoyed recent growth in the country. There is a market for edible snails in Europe as both France and Italy import over 50% of their mollusc requirement each year. There are approximately 30 snail farms in Ireland currently.
Not for the faint hearted- wasabi is regarded as an incredibly difficult plant to grow commercially. It is cultivated in a water bed and needs cold, fast flowing clear water to grow correctly. There is also the problem of getting access to seeds or cuttings as real wasabi is rare outside Japan. In addition it grows very slowly. But potential profits are high and attempts to commercially farm it in Europe are on the increase.
Asian buffalo farms are on the rise in the UK and they are rare but not non-existent in Ireland. They are said to be similar in character and behaviour to cattle but stronger and long-lived. Buffalo are mostly farmed for milk and cheese but can also be used for meat.
Global demand for seaweed is strong and mostly driven by China and Japan, but there is a growing European market for Europe-sourced seaweed. There are over 500 types of seaweed along the Irish coastline, a small number of which are commercially harvested.
Oyster farms in Ireland have been recorded as far back as the 1850’s. Irish Oysters are regarded as high quality seafood and often imported by France and China. Oyster farms are more common than many of the items on this list and generally found on the south and west coasts.
These are but a few examples of possible farming enterprises. Perhaps in the future we will see innovative souls farm bait insects, medical leeches or edible cactii to take advantage of a gap in the market?