Sixty people turned up to harvest 1ac of beetroot on the farm of Joe and Sandra Burns in Killeagh, east Cork, on Saturday after a call-out on social media.
The crop should have been harvested in October, but after the severe flooding in east Cork, the Burns couldn’t get back into the field with machinery.
“We knew we had to get it out as fast as possible,” Sandra Burns told the Irish Farmers Journal, adding that a night’s frost would have done serious damage to the crop.
The beetroot will be used for the full year’s supply of crisps for the family’s crisp brand - Joe’s Farm Crisps. The brand will mark 10 years in business next March.
“We can’t get [the beetroot] anywhere else, we grow it specifically for our crisps,” she said.
The flooding couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Burns, as the run-up to Christmas is their busiest time of year. In three weeks’ time, the company will be exhibiting at Gifted at the RDS.
“There was panic. The [social media post] was a last resort for me,” she said. The Burns sought help on social media, saying that they were looking for help to pick 14 beds of beetroot by hand.
Amazingly, 60 people from Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and near the Limerick border turned up on Saturday to pick the five varieties of beetroot in the field and had the job completed in four hours.
“We picked the lot in the four hours on Saturday. One of the lads below in the field said we’d need to send out an update, that we’d have the field picked.
“The laughs we had down in the field. They came to help us and they didn’t know us. For once in my life, I didn’t know what to say. It’s amazing what people can do,” Burns said.
She said that one thing stood out for her: “If you need help, just ask for it.”
“We are blown away by the support. There has been a lot of doom and gloom around - this showed that people are still willing to help people,” she said, adding that it reminded her of days years ago on her own farm when neighbours would come together in a meitheal to make silage.