MEET THE WOMAN WHO GAVE UP LIFE IN THE U.S. TO START HER OWN BUSINESS IN IRELAND.
Californian native Cori Calvert’s casual holiday to the Emerald Isle a number of years ago changed and shaped her progressive future. It was during this period that Ms Calvert discovered a new business idea- a major niche in the Irish market.
Before setting foot on Irish soil, the California State University, Fresno graduate held a position with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for almost two decades, assisting agricultural operations and related SMEs reduce their energy costs through energy efficiency projects.
“I noticed that there were many opportunities for Ag and SMEs in Ireland to make those same improvements and save on a fixed cost thus increasing their ability to stay sustainable during lean times. ” Cori told Catherina of That’s Farming.
For the next twelve months, Cori trekked to and from California and Ireland exploring potential opportunities. It was during one of these trips that she crossed paths with her now partner, a third generation beef and dairy farmer in Garryspillane, Co. Limerick. Her attachment to the Irish island continued to flourish and the rest is now history.
Cori decided to leave the U.S for the Irish island, but as the fifth generation farmer of the family, the adaptation to Irish farming systems was an easy learning curve.
Ms Calvert grew up on a sheep and beef enterprise, but the family have since converted their enterprise into sheep farming only. The big leap has been made due to drought conditions in her native homeland that have forced many farmers to close the doors on their beef cattle operations over the last decade.
As a lady with many hats, Cori farms with her partner and his family on a part-time basis and runs her own business, as the CEO and Founder of Glas Éireann Solutions.
“My major job is sneaking extra buckets of milk to the dairy calves! My partner’s family is very tight-knit and everyone assists each other with duties. My pet project though is the calves. I love giving them their milk twice a day (extra buckets or not!).” Cori explained.
While her business is a predominant focus, Cori’s farming commitments are not limited to milking, feeding silage, giving milk to the calves, calving during the spring, sorting cattle, or improvement projects around the farm.
“We work well together. My partner is amazing at manoeuvring the tractor, while I think I am better at taking care of the calves which takes a lot of passion and love.” Cori added.
Cori openly admits that she wouldn’t switch the green fields of Ireland for any other profession and she is quick to point out the immense enjoyment that she gets from farming.
“I love everyone working together and how much time you get to spend together. Growing up on a farm gave me a great work ethos as well as a love for teamwork.” Cori explained.
While the positives outweigh the negatives, Cori is conscious of the issues that are facing Agriculture in many countries, as someone who has travelled her fair share of the globe.
“It is scary to see the increasing amount of regulations facing farms.It is my life’s passions to ensure that farming operations stay sustainable. No family that loves farming should have to worry about how they’re going to survive or passing the farm from one generation to the next.” Cori added.
Cori, an ACORNS 3 (Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Startups) participant has a thriving business, which she believes has been greatly assisted by her participation in this programme specifically tailored for rural entrepreneurs.
Glas Éireann Solutions is an energy service company with an objective to assist SMEs and agriculture reduce their energy bill through energy efficiency upgrades such as VFDs, milk plate coolers, biomass, anaerobic digesters, boiler upgrades, solar and small wind.
“What makes us unique is that we pay for all the capital needed to do those efficiency upgrades since most SMEs and Ag don’t have the money needed for the upgrades. In return, we take a percentage of the energy savings once the projects are installed and functioning.” Cori added.
Women in Ag
When asked about being a female creating a powerful stir in the industry, Cori has nothing but positive words to share.She advises females that want to start out in the industry to pursue their passion and “each work day will be a joy”.
“My Mom has always been the main decision maker on the farm and even in my partner’s family, his mom is the main decision-maker as well so I think my situation may be unique! Female farming has been what I have always known since I was born.” Cori explained.
Cori is satisfied to reveal that he has only ever experienced positive encounters, as someone who since her entire professional career has been spent educating farmers alongside them as they continued their farm work.
“I have never been treated with anything but professional courtesy and respect. I feel that some women face difficulty when they are pursuing their interest in the sciences and maths which are essential for many agri-business careers. Too often women are told to pursue creative fields even though they may be better suited or naturally talented in the sciences.” Cori said.
The Bright Future
Satisfied in her current role, Cori has intentions to continue running her business along with farming as she believes she “now has a perfect balance."
“During the day I work on something that I am passionate about and it does a lot of good for SMEs and agriculture operations, while in the evenings and during the weekends I get to spend time with an amazing family doing my other passion: farming. ” Cori concluded.
A bright future is in store for Cori, with plans to expand the business further and hopes to welcome the next generation of farmers in the not-so-distant future.