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Who Is? Valerie Kingston, Co-owner and Founder of Glenilen Farm

By Donna Ahern
Who Is? Valerie Kingston, Co-owner and Founder of Glenilen Farm

Glenilen Farm recently announced that it has launched its chilled cheesecake range into Sainsbury's, which will be sold across 170 stores in the UK . Valerie Kingston, co-owner and founder of Glenilen Farm, talks to Donna Ahern

How would you describe your role? 

My role is in the background. I’m not really involved in the day to day running of the business anymore.

I’m a policewoman that makes sure that the ethos that we started out with 20 years ago is still maintained.

The dairy is in the farmyard so we practically live at our business.

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That’s why it  is really important for me to separate the home from the business and ensure that it remains a home for our family.

Last summer I ran the pop up cafe at the dairy along with the school tours.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

I grew up on a farm so the first job I remember that I got paid for was when I was nine years old and it was rearing geese in the farmyard.

If also picked strawberries at Raffeen strawberry fields and I remember picking  potatoes.

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I learned the value of food and about the hard work that goes into producing it.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

Thinking about all of the experiences, all of the opportunities, all of the people that we have met, and all the learnings along the way that perhaps would never have been part of our lives if we hadn’t diversified.

Also, being in a position to provide employment in rural west Cork and being part of maintaining life in a small community is immensely satisfying.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

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Our dream is to free ourselves up from the daily management of the business, to concentrate on the bigger picture and become more strategic.

What is your advice to people starting out in industry? 

Turn your passion into your livelihood.

The ideal scenario is to manage and balance your work so that it doesn’t become a millstone around your neck and to ensure that the spark is kept alive.

When confronted with challenges or hurdles, always put yourself in other peoples’ shoes and try to see things from their perspective. Being successful in business is all about relationships.

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What do you think the government could do to help business in the current climate?

We have had a really positive experience with agencies like Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland.

However, to meet the challenges of climate change and carbon emissions, the government will need to ramp up more support for green initiatives and sustainability and offer realistic tariffs for micro scale energy generation.

Who would come to your ideal dinner party? (dead or alive)

Sir Ralph Fiennes, an amazing octogenarian current day explorer (Listen to the way he relates his adventures in such a deadpan way on podcast.)

Corrie ten Boom, a holocaust survivor with an amazing story of finding the power to forgive.

Jesus Christ, who influenced history more than any other person who has ever lived.

That dinner would bring a bit of perspective!

What is the best piece of advice that you’ve got?

Marry that farmer with the little farm in West Cork!

What do you like doing in your spare time?

The simple things - cooking, gardening, beekeeping, hen keeping, walking and just enjoying the beautiful scenery of West Cork - just about everything except writing this!

How much time do you spend on social media in an average week?

I’m allergic to social media. I feel really strongly about the wasted time and the pressures that it brings and sorry for the generation that have to deal with it and live with  it.

Bring back living in the moment and the simple things in life.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I love BBC Outlook podcasts and documentaries.

 

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