The View from Northern Ireland: Farm diversification shouldn’t be just a leap of faith into a new business sector. It should be well thought out with a sound business plan to secure new income streams for the farm family. We at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), through our Farm Diversification Business Training programmes, will be able to help you get on the right track with your diversification plans.

If you or a member of your farm family have a diversification idea or are keen to know what is involved in farm diversification then you cannot afford to miss the Diversification Awareness Event at Lurgaboy Adventure Centre, 12 Gosford Road, Armagh BT60 1LQ on Wednesday 23 October, 2013 commencing at 10.30am until 12.30pm.

Lurgaboy Adventure Centre was established by Richard Dougan 10 years ago on the family farm outside Markethill. Richard is a former Mount Everest Expedition Leader, and has a great knowledge and passion for outdoor life. Running a diversification business on his family farm combined with doing something which he loves provides him with the right work/life balance. From his experience he fully appreciates the hard work and commitment that it takes to get a diversification idea up and running and is keen to share that experience with you at the Awareness Event on Wednesday 23 October.

The Adventure Centre is a family-run business, which offers a wide range of activities such as archery, climbing, mountain biking and a high ropes course for families, groups of friends, for schools, colleges, youth groups, adult groups and summer camps.

All of this is based on a 35-acre site in the heart of the Armagh countryside, with panoramic views of seven mountain ranges in Northern Ireland. Richard is committed to sustaining his family farm and surrounding land and feels that the diversification business has injected a new energy into the farm business.

During this event you will have the opportunity to see at firsthand how Richard has successfully diversified, hear about the challenges and benefits of establishing a diversified enterprise and learn how you can turn your ideas into reality on your farm. CAFRE staff will highlight the various services they offer to farmers and farm family members who are considering diversifying.

Following on from this event, CAFRE will be running a Diversification Challenge – Business Start Course at the Old Courthouse, Markethill starting on Tuesday 5 November at 7.30pm. These free workshops, delivered over six evenings will cover the main aspects of starting a new business and preparing a business case which is essential for funding.

To register your interest in attending the Awareness Event at Lurgaboy Adventure Centre and/or in CAFRE’s Diversification Challenge – Business Start course, please contact Siobhán Sheppard on 028 8676 8276 or 07795 303 731 or email [email protected].

 By Siobhan Sheppard, CAFRE Rural Enterprise Lecturer

Pictured: Outdoor adventurers enjoying the facilities at Lurgaboy Adventure Centre, Co Armagh