Meet Mullingar's seaweed entrepreneur
(Above) Ollie Greene working in his garden.
A local man whose interest in gardening helped him overcome mental illness has turned his passion into a business – selling organic seaweed fertilisers.
Dalystown based entrepreneur Ollie Greene has developed a range of fertilisers for farmers and gardeners using organic seaweed that is sourced in Donegal. His firm Better Plants has also developed a range of organic feed supplements for household pets and farm animals.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, Ollie says that he is often asked how a person from Westmeath ends up selling products made from seaweed.
“I love growing my own vegetables and as a gardener I wanted the best for my plants, but the problem was all the fertilisers I could find were full of chemicals and even the liquid seaweed was not the best quality, So I began making my own/
“I used to travel to Sligo surfing most weeks and I started bringing back bags of seaweed to use on my garden, but this still wasn’t working as it was a lot of work,
“So soon after I found a company in Donegal that ticked all the boxes. The liquid seaweed they made is of the highest quality and they used a gentle extraction process which means all the goodness of the seaweed stays in the liquid,” he said.
Prior to Covid-19 turning the world upside down, Ollie had devised a number of courses for people interested in growing their own vegetables.
In addition to lowering your food bills and keeping you fit and healthy, there are therapeutic benefits of growing your own vegetables, Ollie says and he has first hand experience of that.
“Getting out in the garden and growing vegetables can take your mind off a lot of worries that you might have.
“In my case, there was one stage where I was quite bad with depression.
“I was planting a tunnel and honestly felt that I mightn’t be around to see the produce.
“As the weeks went on though every morning I knew I had to get up and water the plants, a tunnel full of broccoli.
“I also went down every day to do some weeding. It was sort of a little escape route in one sense.
“I was down there and I mightn’t have been doing anything but I was in my own little space.
“I suppose it was time to think. I enjoyed the whole process and then there is the pride when you produce something.
“It was definitely a great help for me,” he said.
“We can teach complete beginners how to start their own gardens, look after their plants and have a support group for them.
“It’s all about connecting people and building, a community that will support each other.
“Having suffered from depression for many years, I found that growing my own vegetables really help me get through this dark time in my life, which inspired me to try and help people do the same,” he said.