Former DAERA minister visits rural businesses in North Down

Stephen Dunne MLA recently hosted a visit by the then Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Edwin Poots to North Down.

During the visit, the Minister was able to see first-hand two relatively newly established businesses, Kylestone Nurseries and Olive Tree Bakes Groomsport and Four Acres Farm in Donaghadee as well as visiting a rescue centre for German Shepherds, German Shepherd Rescue RRR based in Craigantlet, Holywood.

Kylestone Nurseries, owned and managed by Mr and Mrs Vance is a rural horticultural business which supplies bedding plants, shrubs and trees to the public.

Owned and run by proprietors Mr and Mrs Vance and their son, the Minister was keen to hear about any issues that this rural business face as well as how the business survived during the challenging Covid period. The Vance family have extensive experience in plant propagation and growth and are keen to pass on their expertise to customers and share their love of sustainable horticulture. On site is a farm shop which is managed by Olive Tree Bakes.

Mr Poots was keen to see the work carried out by the German Shepherd RRR

Stephen Dunne MLA commenting on the visit said: ‘It was great to invite the Minister to North Down and get out on the ground and seeing businesses which fall under the remit of the Minister’s Department.

“As we face the cost of living crisis it is more important than ever to support local sustainable businesses, and I am always encouraged by the innovation and dedication of our local businesses who work so hard every day.”

Councillor MacArthur who also joined the visit commented that, ‘relatively new rural businesses such as Kylestone Nurseries faced the challenges of growing a business during Covid and are now faced with a significant hike in energy costs. It’s important that we all do our bit this winter to shop local and Kylestone Nurseries is right on our doorstep, providing a great quality product to the customer. The home-made bakes provided by Olive Tree Bakes are a great asset to this rural business.”

The second stop of the day was with Four Acres Farm, a rural tourism and farm diversification business owned and managed by Mr Kyle McBride. Whilst on site the Minister was able to find out how the business uses solar energy, have planted thousands of trees and stocked the onsite lake with trout for those wanting to fish. Established during the Covid period, this business also plans to expand in the future and bring footfall and employment into this rural area of Donaghadee.

Stephen Dunne MLA said: ‘I’d like to congratulate Kyle McBride on what he has achieved to date. He has developed a first class rural business during a particularly challenging time.

"The Minister was also encouraged to hear that the business has plans to develop further, have availed of DAERA funding and are keen to invest in agriculture on this site. I wish them well with their plans.”

DAERA has developed codes of practice for the non-farmed animals such as dogs so the Minister was keen to see the work carried out by the German Shepherd RRR run by Raymond and Katie Quinn.