Husband and wife duo, Becky and Charlie Cole have been running Broughgammon for over 11 years. What started out as a couple of goats on a plot of land has turned into a street food trailer, a farm with their own shop and butchery courses, and an online website where you can purchase nature-friendly, ethically sourced produce! We had a chat with Becky Cole all about how they got started.
Broughgammon are part of the Euro-Toques Ireland community of Irish producers.
Can you tell me about your own background in the food industry?
We’ve been running for about 11 years, my husband and I have always grown up loving food. I actually had a background in fashion design! My husband had been in agriculture college, he was trying to find a job, and his parents bought a plot of land and he decided to work on this instead. He set up a caravan – he had a few goats, and was rowing them up for meat. We met, fell in love, and I just jumped in the deep end! Charlie had a love of farming, and his mum had an interest in food as well. He tried to sell the kid goats to a restaurant but it fell through, but we needed to sell them somehow, so we came up with this recipe for Billy burgers, which is still one of our best selling items today.
Billy burgers, tzatziki, beetroot relish and rocket – we just used all the ingredients we were growing on the farm. We took them down to a fair, no one was interested at first because it was something they’d never heard of, but as people got drunker, they started to dare each other to eat the burgers and realised they actually love them!
What inspired you to set up your business? Did you notice a gap in the market?
There was a gap yes – we are very environmentally conscious, and it seemed crazy that there was almost a broken loop in the dairy industry. The female goats are used for plenty of thing and the male goats were being put down, but their meat is always so good and healthy, that traditionally we would have eaten. If you’re going to drink the goat’s milk and eat the goat’s cheese, there can’t be a broken food system where nobody is eating the meat! Putting down the goat’s seemed mind boggling to us, so this was a big driving factor to us.
How did you set up the business and how has it been growing over time?
Completely from the grassroots up. We started with the caravan and the baby goats, rearing them by hand and feeding them bottles of milk. As we got more of an investment we put up the polytunnels, though we didn’t have money for a barn, which was a bit of a disaster because the goats kept eating the plastic! We eventually made enough money to build some barns but it took us a long time to get to where we are now.
A lot of the business came direct from the customers. We talked to them at farmer’s markets and festivals and asked what they liked. A big part was telling the story!
We started to then look at other areas. Free range roast veal had a similar story to the male goats. Female cows and calves are always valuable in the market, but male calves had no use. Back in 70s and 80s, there was a campaign against the unethical treatment of male veal, validly so, but it led to a much worse situation – they were getting put down or being exported. By not eating the meat ourselves, they were being sent off to a much worse life.
We worked with our local dairies and promoted free range veal and ethical meat, and worked on the land to try and manage it in a sustainable and environmentally-focused way.
During lockdown, we renovated one of the barns and turned it into a farm shop, offering foraging walks, butcher classes, cheese making. We have it open 3 days a week.
Can you tell me about some of the benefits associated with your product?
Environmental – We’re a nature-friendly farm, we really look after the land in a long-term way. We promote biodiversity through the hedge rows and native species.
Quality – We have an on-site butchery; we do it all ourselves. When we sent our meat away to get butchered, we weren’t happy with it, so having our own gives us complete control.
We’re a small, local business and it’s always important to support – you know where your food comes from!
How has working with Euro-Toques Ireland impacted your business?
The prestige and the name – it helps with the awards and the association with such a prestigious organisation!
What has been your favourite part of working with Euro-Toques Ireland?
Publicity and winning the awards – without it, it’s very hard to actually publicise yourself, so it’s great to have someone else help get your brand out there, talking about you to chefs etc.
How important has social media been for you in spreading the word?
100% important – we have Instagram, a mailing list etc. Within that, that’s how we get in front of our customers – it gives them a look behind the scenes. Without that we wouldn’t be able to sell!
What makes your product unique?
We have an environmental, nature-friendly farming focus. My husband is part of the nature-friendly searing group. We are a showcase farm for the UK and Ireland, and we’re extremely environmentally conscious.
Other unique elements: diversity, ethical meats, farming shop, farm eggs, baking, market availability, our street food trailer. There are lots of different ways to interact with our brand! We also allow customers toiInteract with us in a very transparent way – we encourage customers to walk around all the farm which most farms wouldn’t allow.
In terms of the street food trailer, this was how we started getting our burgers down to the sea front. Summer is our street food time, it’s a very important part of how we do things. It’s a great way to get to try things, like veal or goat, but in a burger! It lets people be adventurous, and also stops us creating waste. People can try the burger and be converted to the farm.
Where can people get your product (shops, restaurants?)
Temple Bar food market every Saturday (fresh meat and street food)
Online via our website. You can order meat boxes, cheese boxes, produce boxes etc.
Make a trip to the farm in Co Antrim – our farm shop open 3 days a week, with courses running throughout the week.
Are there any other small Irish food producers you admire?
Corleggy cheese – We met through the Temple Bar food market, they’re fantastic! What they do is absolutely incredible. She’s an amazing cheesemaker, and she comes up and does the cheese making classes on our farm.
McNally Family Farm – We also met through the market – gave us lots of ideas for growing veg, it’s a great farm shop and they stock our meat there too – they’re a really inspiring family farm.
NearyNógs – artisan chocolate maker who are just outstanding.
We try and stock as many people like that as we can, and then we can collaborate with a class, and we love that collaborative side of being a small business.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced since going into business?
So many – Brexit was a big one. Being in Northern Ireland it made it so much more complicated.
Lockdown was also a tough one, because suddenly we couldn’t go down to the markets. But me and my husband have a good attitude of keep calm, adapt, talk to the customer, which has been the saving grace. Most of our customers have been with us since the start and watched us develop, so you have the ability to directly talk to them.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement to date with this business?
Doing it! Carrying on, adapting – we tend to always add something on every few years. We’re still afloat and here.
Could you ever have imagined doing anything else with your life?
When I was younger, this is not how I pictured my life. I thought I’d be living in London, working in Vogue… but working in fashion design, inside all day on a sowing machine, I realised that was not for me. Now that I live this life, it is hard and it can be frustrating, but it’s amazing working with the land and the animals.
What does the future hold for your business?
Hoping to add wild game back in. We had it a little during covid, but unfortunately with Brexit, we need a whole new butchery, but it would be very exciting to give it a whole new market!
We would love to have more people on the farm – we’d love to do an eco-accommodation here!
Anything further to add?