Category: Archive

The auld sod in a new bag

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Alan Jenkins and Pat Burke believe they will, and gladly.
Jenkins and Burke are the movers behind a new venture called The Auld Sod Export Company Ltd.
The company has a very simple product: sealed packets of the Irish sod that have been given the nod of approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Customs.
“We’ve has a fantastic reaction. We knew it would be good but we never dreamed we would get the kind of reaction that we have been getting,” Jenkins, a native of Lisburn, County Antrim said during a visit to New York.
Jenkins, who lived for a number of years in Maine and Florida and spent much of his career in the construction industry, finally put his long-gelling dream into action earlier this year when he formed the company with Burke.
“The idea was suggested to me years ago by a doctor in Florida,” said Jenkins.
“He said that many Irish and Irish Americans wanted to throw a bit of the auld sod on the caskets of loved ones but simply couldn’t get their hands on any.”
It was one of those ideas that people hear, reckon is a good one, but then park in the back of their minds.
Jenkins did just that, but never forget the doctor’s words.
Now living in West Cork, Jenkins has been able to lay hands on a suitable source of what he calls Irish dirt.
“I used to refer to soil when I worked in the construction business here in America but the guys on the sites always used to call it dirt,” Jenkins told the Echo.
Putting a good idea into action was stalled over they years by an absolute block on imported soil enforced by the U.S. government.
That embargo has now been lifted for the three quarter pound bags of Irish dirt that Jenkins and Burke plans to ship by the container load to the U.S. beginning in a few weeks.
Each container will contain 80,000 bags of bona fide Irish terra firma.
“The dirt has been passed by all the relevant authorities. We have all the documentation and we have the mixture patented worldwide,” Burke, a Cahir, County Tipperary native with a degree in agricultural science From University College Dublin, said.
The dirt is a blend that includes milled peat. As such, it is suitable for growing just about anything, including shamrock.
As such, the original marketing plan, limited to the idea of selling dirt so that it could be used at funerals, has been expanded to the idea of spawning life.
“We will also be offering shamrock seed along with the dirt,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins and Burke said their idea had been enthusiastically received during a New York stopover that included meetings with Irish Consul General, Tim O’Connor, and Father Colm Campbell of the Irish Center in Queens.
Jenkins and Burke are looking to launch of their product in or around September when they are also aiming to activate a company website.
One unusual aspect of the duo’s business plan is that while they expect to make lots of green for their brown product, not all of the profit is to be ploughed back into the company’s coffers.
According to Jenkins, 80 percent of the net profit will be donated to worthy causes and in some cases Irish American charities.
Jenkins has a particular plan to divert some of the profit to a mission in Tanzania run by a friend of his who is a nun.
He said that the mission badly needs a new water supply but to get to a fresh source about 30 feet below ground the mission would need specialized drilling equipment.
If all goes to plan, upcoming sales of Irish dirt will serve to bore a hole in the African version and provide all the water that the missions needs.
Jenkins and Burke are looking to other markets in addition to the U.S. Australia and Canada are but two of them.
“We’re going to have a very busy six months ahead of us,” said Burke.

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