A DAZZLLING display of flowers at the entrance to the D&M Garden Centre and Restaurant in Croagh undoubtedly helped the owners, the Giltenane family, to achieve their first Bord Bia quality assurance award.
“You are scored on everything,” a very pleased Dermot Giltenane explained this week, when the award was confirmed. “We achieved three stars on our first go, but we were just one point away from four-stars and we hope to be a four-star by the end of the year or early next year.”
“I am delighted with it,” he went on. “Isn’t it great to get a boost?”
The Bord Bia award is particularly gratifying for Dermot and his family, coming as it does just a few months after they embarked on a big redevelopment of the business, which began when Dermot started selling vegetables from the side of the road.
The redevelopment included an expansion and extensive upgrading of the existing garden centre and restaurant and the complex now also includes a produce shop stocking artisan foods and gifts. In the months since, the investment has begun to pay off.
“Despite the bad summer, we have held our own,” Dermot said with some satisfaction.
One initiative the family has taken to encourage more business is to become involved in the Grow Your Own movement. The centre in Croagh is the meeting place for the West Limerick branch.
“It is going quite well,” explained Dermot’s son Thomas, who is deeply involved with this project. As many as 30 growers meet in Croagh once a month to share knowledge and tips, to learn from various invited experts and to hone or pass on their gardening for the table skills.
“We have a lot of beginners, others who are more advanced and up to professional level and people who do it for a hobby,” Thomas said. The GIY group plans for three months in advance.
Now that the centre has gained its first three-star rating, Dermot is determined they will move up the scale even further. The scoring system, he told the Limerick Leader, was done very well. “They give great guidelines which will help you to get to the next level,” he said.