Today we visited O'Connor's Nursery in Gorey. O'Connor's is a brilliant example of a small business growing and succeeding in Ireland these days. They are 45 years in business. They started as a small family enterprise and are now a main supplier of bedding plants, shrubs and flowering plants for big supermarket chains such as Lidl. They also supply many smaller and independent retailers and nurseries. They grow different flowers at different times of the year, for example; poinsettias for Christmas, primroses for spring and bedding plants for hanging baskets in the summer.
They had to work hard throughout the years. They renovated and invested heavily in 2008 which was in the height of the recession and while it was difficult, they have succeeded and done very well for themselves. They have a number of staff however a lot of the work is done by machinery and robots. Some plants are never touched by humans in the whole growing process.
We saw how they sewed seeds, watered them, packaged them and transported them. Most of this was done by machinery. It was very interesting to see how it was all done. Obviously they have invested a lot of money in machinery and climate control as the glasshouses we saw were huge, warm and well ventilated to ensure flowers got the best possible environment to grow.
Bernard and Helen gave us the grand tour. Helen taught us lots about running a business and really helped explain some of the things we have been studying in Mini-company this year. Bernard taught us a lot about growing the flowers and how the machinery works. However he wasn't giving away any tips for good gardening to Ms Duggan who was eager to learn a few things for her own garden!!
Afterwards, they spoiled us and gave us drinks and crisps and a free potted plant to take home with us. This was especially thoughtful and we are all delighted with our gift. Watch this space to see whose plant lives the longest!!!!
Thank you especially to Helen O'Connor for allowing us to learn so much today.