We see that maintaining and preserving our abattoir is vital to ensuring the integrity of our products is protected. The rarity of having this resource, an abattoir, on an island means no carbon footprint for the food products crafted here. Central to the system of farming here is the breed of sheep which has adapted to the environment here, the hardy Mayo Mountain flocks. They graze extensively with no borders and move through vast commonage areas grazing and foraging on natural foliage, areas pure and uncultivated, unfertilised and unploughed. All of this helps to control several invasive species on Achill. Since the decline of cattle grazing on the local commonages these species in vast areas are out of control.
Taking inspiration from and learning at the Burren Winterage School, Calvey’s are exploring RBPS schemes of uplands sustainability. We live by a nose to tail ethos often running campaigns to promote offal and lesser used cuts to ensure any food waste is kept to a minimum. Our wrapping comes from biodegradable materials. The Calvey family won the national Farming for Nature award 2018, are members of Origin Green and work to keep our business as environmentally friendly as possible.
From April to October we offer Achill Farm Tours on our farm through Failte Ireland. We also contribute to the national Food and Farming community bringing awareness to small family business, agricultural and farming and food-related issues.
Our rural area of Achill Island has been gutted over recent years and particularly in the wintertime the place can become very lonely. There is always a hub of activity at Achill Lamb HQ and it is important that farmers can call in, connect and chat. It is there where we provide a social network for those of all ages and for those with shared interests.
When the farmers lambs are ready Dad goes out to their flocks to select, then they bring the animals to the abattoir mostly on Sundays. Sometimes it’s just a walk away. On Mondays we process in the abattoir and on Tuesdays the farmers return to weigh their lambs when the vet has completed the post-mortem inspections on the carcasses.
This is a good boost to the farmer to see the quality and condition of the lambs they raised and this generates chat and conversation and sometimes competition! We pay top prices in full on the day of the weighing with no stoppages. The majority receive generous bonuses. The farmers and their families often call in to tell us about a programme, book or an article they saw about the lamb, hogget or mutton and to inquire how things are going.
We also sponsor the annual local sheep show and generously contribute to local fundraising and events. In the past we made the most suitable site, which was on our farm, available to the RNLI to build the lifeboat station on Achill Island.