Farm diversification funding through Women in Agriculture was the initial mechanism by which Jayne Paget set up her jam making business in 2001.

Thirteen years later, she and her husband Mark have created a successful micro-business making award-winning preserves, chutneys and marmalades.

The couple initially renovated and modernised some old farm buildings at the family farm in Garvary, and brought them up to the correct safety and cleanliness standards.

As their products gained a foothold in butchers, delis and bakeries throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic, they decided to build an extension in 2007.

This year, they intend to grow the business further, reporting that they have recently been growing at a rate of 30 per cent each year. Although it is still a micro-business (with just themselves and a part-time staff member at busy times such as Christmas), Mark states: “We have had a 30 per cent growth each year which is important.” He adds: “Technically we are an exporter as our products are sold in stores and delis in the Republic of Ireland; Sligo and as far as Galway.” “It’s made the way your granny would have made it,” Jayne comments. “I wanted to recreate the traditional flavours which have been lost in so many of today’s over-processed foods.” She studied Home Economics and recipe development at University of Ulster, Jordanstown and “has always been interested in cooking.” Strawberry jam and their Irish Whiskey marmalade remain their most popular products. “We make them in small batches of 40 to retain flavour and colour,” she comments.

Some ingredients are grown in their garden (rhubarb, damsons, apples and plums), but due to a lack of commercial fruit farmers in Fermanagh (and across Ireland), they must get the rest of the products delivered. For example they order frozen strawberries from Wicklow. Jayne reflects: “If there were more local fruit farmers, we could cut transport costs.” “It’s all handmade and natural; there are no preservatives,” Jayne stresses. “It’s just fruit and sugar, pure and simple!” While many of her recipes have been handed down through the generations, “others we have created ourselves to produce a range where the favourites of yesterday blend with exciting and innovative flavours for today.” This includes their chilli jam, which, when first made, some customers said could be hotter. “So, I made one with scotch bonnet chillis and it’s now very popular,” Mark explains. They find that while customer tastes are evolving, there is still demand for the old favourites.

Their products are then delivered to the various outlets by their van or by courier.

Another arm to the business is their ‘Baskets of Ireland’ range (more popular around Christmas). Jayne explains: “We were going to trade shows and country fairs and we noticed a lot of Irish hand-made products similar to ourselves. We thought it would be nice to put all those products together and so we came up with ‘Baskets of Ireland.’” This is all done online.

“You definitely need a website,” Mark believes. “It’s great to have facebook and twitter which are ways of getting free advertising and getting your name out there but it’s hard to keep up with technology trends and to find time to update the online side of the business.” Winning nine Great Taste awards has been a valuable boost to the micro-business, including two stars for raspberry preserve, apple jelly and spiced apple chutney. In 2013, the judges commented: “Now here are preserves, chutneys and marmalades which taste like they should do. The flavour and colour just sing. There are no nasties in here – just fruit and sugar, pure and simple. Think Victoria Plum preserve, Irish Whiskey Marmalade, Sweet Chilli Jam and mango chutney with chilli and lime.” The Pagets’ latest coup came in the form of being chosen by Sawers delicatessen, Belfast to be their exclusive supplier of preserves, chutneys and marmalades for their artisan range. Mark concludes: “That’s a fantastic endorsement of the quality of our products.”