Turn left at the green balloons…
Those were the directions given to the taxi driver. It was just as well he said – his sat nav wanted to send him elsewhere, but the balloons clearly marked the location in Comber, Co. Down, of Mash Direct, where, earlier this month, the great and the good of Comber, Belfast and beyond gathered to celebrate ten years of turning good potatoes into better business.
Balloons mark the Mash Direct birthday spot
Spud Sunday, Mash Monday – what’s a day between friends, eh? There was far too much gallivanting going on in Spud-land to get this out on the usual Sunday schedule, so here’s your slightly-later-than-usual but, I hope, no less tasty, weekly spud installment.
If we hadn’t missed the turn, we’d have missed the cabbages.
As it was, we drove past our intended destination, through the gently undulating Comber countryside and spied the fine sweep of dark green and leafy heads, awaiting harvest in the fields. We saw them again as we figured our way back down the road to the turn for Mash Direct, an entirely modest roadside sign belying the size of the enterprise beyond.
Here I was, then, in Comber, Co. Down – a place well known for its early potatoes – invited to see, at first hand, the operations at Mash Direct, a company established nine years ago by Martin and Tracy Hamilton, as a means of addressing the increasingly small returns they were getting from their family potato farm. They started by turning their spuds into champ – a traditional Irish mash with spring onions and butter – and selling it at market stalls. They have since expanded considerably, with over 100 employees now producing a range of some 30+ mostly potato-based prepared vegetable products, which are sold in Ireland, the UK and even as far away as Dubai, while back at home, work will get underway shortly to double the size of the production space at their farm in Comber.
The Mash Direct Original: Champ