Who we are
Cill Ulta (LAN Ctr), located along the Wild Atlantic Way in the Donegal Gaeltacht in a Special Protection Area (SPA – CornCrake) and adjacent to a Special Area of Conservation (SAC – grey whorled snail), began in the 1960’s as a tomato growing enterprise supplying the Dublin early markets. When the price of oil skyrocketed in the 80’s, the enterprise was no longer profitable and the glasshouses were abandoned. Over the years, various community groups have worked tirelessly to preserve as much of the structure as possible. One acre of glasshouse remains with the rest of the site having been classified as industrial wasteland. In the late 1990’s, Lárionad Acmhainní Nádúrtha (LAN), a non-profit with charitable status, was formed to use and revive the site.
Since then, the industrial waste has slowly been cleaned and converted in to prime growing land and now includes 9 production poly-tunnels, the original 1 acre of glasshouse, an apiary, and multiple production fields. LAN now operates as Cill Ulta – a Centre for Sustainability which promotes food sovereignty, sustainable energies, farm-to-fork research, Irish agricultural heritage and craft, and the Irish language.
Currently at Cill Ulta we are:
- supplying 7 shops, 10 restaurants, and 100+ households with local, sustainable produce.
- providing a diverse range of training workshops in biodiversity conservation, sustainable food production, food sovereignty, traditional craft, heritage, and cottage industry.
- facilitating the local Sustainable Energy Community, working with more than 70 local community groups, sports clubs, churches, businesses, and individuals and co-authoring a regional Energy Master Plan leading to Cill Ulta being engaged by IT Sligo under the SEAI to act as Donegal County Mentor for the local Smarter Energy Community network.
- revitalising cultivation practices in the parish, supporting the local economy, biodiversity, and heritage through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Cúlra Créafóige.
- developing a Community Biodiversity Action Plan for the townland of Cill Ulta with the support of an internationally renowned ecologist.
- delivering a work experience program (Préab san Úr) for local youth with the support of Údarás na Gaeltachta, providing a cross-generational knowledge transfer and cultivating awareness and interest in sustainable horticulture, biodiversity, agriculture, teanga, and heritage.
- enhancing sustainability on site by converting to 100% compostable packaging for all produce sales, exploring the installation of solar thermal and solar PV panels, and purchasing an electric delivery van – further reducing our carbon footprint.
- collaborating with UCD’s agricultural research program - looking into heritage genetics of modern cereal crops, refreshing the genome to provide healthier, more resilient grains. This research will focus on Farm to Fork, investigating the relationship between soil health, plant health, and gut health.