Harnett’s Oils were gold winner in 2014 for their Harnett’s Rapeseed Oil. As well as finding Jane at the George’s Street Market in Belfast every Saturday you can also find more about Harnett Oils on www.harnettoils.co.uk
When & why did you start your business?
Harnett’s Oils was started in 2007. After commissioning a cold-press in 2002 and pressing for non-foods Jane came back home, after completing a degree in Land Management, and took on a farm project in taking home grown Hemp to the shop shelf. After a few months of producing Hemp Oil Jane included Rapeseed and created a business plan around the cold-pressed oils.
Who is your food inspiration?
I have grown up with great cooks in my family where everything has been cooked from scratch from afternoon teas at my great aunts’ to my mother’s Sunday roasts and my Grandmothers Italian luncheon feasts. I have been so lucky from both sides of the family producing local food for the table and as such I tend to take their different attitudes to cooking as my inspiration,
What do you love about your job?
I love the fact that no two days are the same and that I am involved in all aspects of the food business from growing the crops on the farm to cold-pressing, bottling, hand-labelling, delivering and selling across the country and innovation in doing something new.
What is your typical day?
On a production day it involves cold-pressing the seed which is then filtered ready to be bottled or infused for the range of flavoured oils. Once ready we fill the oils and hand-label the bottles from 30ml up to 1000l ready to be sold. Most of the day does involve cleaning down the rooms and equipment before and after which is longer than the production itself unfortunately!
On a Saturday and throughout the year we sell direct at St Georges Market, Belfast and other shows. This usually involves an early morning where we head across the country to set up our stall for the day whether it involves bringing a tent or just a stand. During the day I will be sampling our oils and talking of what we produce which is a great way of getting immediate feedback on our oils. The shows usually finish in the evening ready to pack up and drive home to a hot bath.
Both days usually include checking up on emails and social media at some stage and if very productive a bit of paperwork.
What was your best day since you started this business?
As the years go on I am lucky to having too many days to decide from with meeting the Prince of Wales and the Taoisoeach sampling our oils to producing our first batch of oils to winning Gold in 2014 for our Pure Rapeseed Oil to people coming back and talking to us in the markets or shops to sampling in San Francisco and the Houses of Parliament.
Where do your ingredients come from?
All our oils are grown on our farms in either Waringstown in the Barony of Iveagh in County Down or by the sea in the Mournes. All the oils do not contain chemicals as we don’t use insecticides or round-up when harvesting. We swathe the crops which cuts the crops allowing for the seed heads to ripen up before coming back in with the combine to take in the seeds to the farmyard ready to be dried and cold-pressed. In regards to our vinaigrettes we use Armagh Cider Vinegar infused with fruits from my aunt’s farm in the Mournes.
Tell us about the people you work with?
I work on my own but do call in help from family members from time to time and when working in the different markets I get to work beside like minded artisan producers which is always great to be able to use as a sounding board.
What three words would you use to describe yourself/your business?
Ambitious, honest, outgoing and the business honest, genuine and innovative.
Has there ever been one single moment which has changed how you look at your business?
I fell at the end of 2014 and damaged my ankle in which I needed an operation this forced me to take a step away from the business which allowed me to bring more people in and allowed me take on my other ideas and expand on them to bring more products to market. Over this time I don’t think it necessarily changed my outlook on the business but maybe focused more on what I want to achieve and how to build on the success of the previous few years.
Has there ever been a situation which started out as a negative but turned out for the best?
I think the previous situation with my hurt ankle did start out as a negative but in the end brought more focus to the business and let me take time out from the business from time to time which I wouldn’t have been so prepared to do before. Any negatives have usually been there to try us and teach us lessons and that is how I have always treated them turning them into a positive as there is no time for regrets in life and try to live my life through this and thus the business and taking opportunities where possible.