Current Ambassadors

Below are the Farming For Nature Ambassadors since 2018.

 

Ailbhe Gerrard (Co.Tipperary)

Ailbhe runs a 30 hectare farm on the banks of Lough Derg.  She bought the land in 2010 and took on the challenge of turning a neglected farm into a diverse farm system to make a living.  Today one third of the farm is broadleaf (3 acres of which is designated), one third is arable and one third is agri-environment under wild bird cover. She has an organic sheep flock and honey bees which she sells both directly from the farm and online.  Ailbhe shares her passion of farming with others with regular open days and demonstration days, and her farm is an official Teagasc demo farm.  She is a Nuffield Agricultural Scholar and lectures at Gurteen Agricultural College.  Ailbhe was made an Honorary FFN Ambassador in December 2019.  More information about the farm and a short podcast with Ailbhe are available here.  Ambassador December 2019

Andrew Bergin (Co.Kildare)

Andrew Bergin farms 320 acres of tillage. He has been practicing no-till cereals for a good number of years, while managing the soil in a way to promote high levels of biological benefits. Andrew sows cover crops, and is constantly trailing on farm what species work best for his soil and rotation. This is an integral part that has allowed Andrew prosper in this system that benefit both the environment and the farmer.  His approach is to improve the soil structure and the microflora and insect populations in the soil.  Crops include spring and winter cereals, oil seed rape and peas.  Integrated crop management is practiced to minimise the use of sprays – no insecticides have been used in the last 5 years.  Pollinator strips, 6 – 10 meters wide are in place around most of the tillage fields margins, attracting large numbers of insects and birds.  In addition, a number of fields margins and other areas, which were difficult to cultivate for tillage crops, have been planted with trees – oak, beech, birch, holly, hazel, pheasant berry etc. Andrew’s farm is moving away from excessive inputs and looking bring new ideas and knowledge as well as a positive focus to a type of farming generally considered less environmentally friendly. “It is important to get involved in and look at local research so we can each discover what is best for our own soils, not what chemical is best to throw on it.”  More information and a short film on Andrew’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2020

Boyd Bryce  (Co.Donegal)

Boyd and his wife Bride run a 350-acre farm on Inch Island, Co. Donegal. The farm is a mix of arable areas, sheep pastures and woodland, all of which is managed sensitively for nature. Boyd farms his land for nature and manages all aspects of the farm with nature in mind, including his shorelines, wetlands, woodlands, field boundaries and non-farmed areas.  He is a good example of someone who has spent a lifetime improving his farm for nature.   “Leave your hedges… a hedge without berries or blossom isn’t a hedge but a bundle of sticks”  More information and a short film on Boyd’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2019 

Bridget Murphy (Co.Sligo)

Bridget has been living on and farming mountain land for nearly 20 years. She would be the 8th generation she knows farming the land. She prefers to practice agroecology over agriculture or agribusiness and uses her farm as a case study on issues ranging from governance of the commons, to using native ponies and bees to diversify grazing / forage regimes on the hills. She keeps a flock of Cheviot sheep, four hill ponies and an apiary of native black bees, plants in copses of native woodlands and maintains watercourses and streams. She builds dry stone walls and keeps a few acres under traditional hay meadow. Her land has a healthy wildlife population that includes pine marten, badgers, foxes and lots of hares. The birdlife is prolific and there are small trout in the streams. Heath and blanket bog characterise the higher land parcels, and for the last decade she has been working on rewetting sections of the land; she sees the value in the allowing the natural habitat to return and recognises the need to keep the carbon stores locked in the ground. She is a long time land rights activist from her early days fighting the Apartheid system in South Africa and claiming land back for rural black communities, she is also a long time ecofeminist. More information and a short film on Bridget’s farm hereAmbassador July 2020

Calvey Family  (Co.Mayo)

The Calvey Family are based in Keel, Co Mayo.  They farm a herd of 150 Black-faced Mountain Sheep on their shareholding of an extensive (20,000 acre) commonage, as well as on an area of machair (a rare seaside habitat). These ‘Mayo blackhead ewes’ have been kept on this farm for many generations and are perfectly adapted to grazing the mosaic of protected habitats – from mountain to seashore – where they play a key role in maintaining local biodiversity. Martin is also a master butcher and he and his family have, since 1962, run the only abattoir on Achill island. The Calveys sell their trade-marked ‘Achill Mountain Lamb’ from their local shop as a high-quality food product, one which has won numerous awards and is the choice of many top-chefs through the west of Ireland, including Ashford Castle. Martin is a champion of good environmental management – a member of the local ‘custodians of the commonage’ group who helps ensure the land is properly cared for, as well as a great advocate for the link between habitat management, local food production and the added ecosystem and financial value that can result. As his daughter Martina says ‘We respect nature, we work with it and it rewards us very well’.  They were the Farming for Nature Award  public vote winners in 2018.  More information and a short film on the Calvey Family Farm here.  Ambassador October 2018 

Clive Bright  (Co.Sligo)

Clive raises 100% grass-fed organic beef on his 130-acre farm in Ballymote, Co.Sligo. He has built his ‘Rare Ruminare’ brand based on his mix of traditional breeds such as Hereford, Shorthorn and Angus which are well suited to maintaining the farm’s species-rich grasslands. He sells his beef directly to the consumer. He uses mob grazing to ensure that grasslands are given time to recover between grazing periods and to improve the diversity of his grasslands through a more even grazing pressure and suitable stocking rate. He is a good example of how working with the right stocking rates and the environnment at hand you have you don’t have to supplement the diet of the animals or put them inside but just work with nature.  “With this method of [mob] grazing you have put on enough condition on the cattle with a 100% grass fed diet.”   More information and a short film on Clive’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2019 

Darina Allen (Co.Cork)

Darina has a mixed stock organic farm with her husband. The farm includes one acre wide glasshouses which yield an abundance of fruit and vegetables, and is home to free-range pigs, beef, approximately 600 hens and dairy cows which are milked daily to produce local cheese and yoghurt. The patch is also often used to test experimental planting and sowing techniques such as biodynamic planting – sowing crops in harmony with the various phases of the moon – with the aim of optimising yield, flavour and quality. Darina is totally passionate about the soil and believes the healthier the soil, the healthier the plant, the animals and the humans. Another biodiversity friendly technique incorporated is the use of green manure – the incorporation of certain green plants back into the soil, which improves the soil structure; increases soil biodiversity, helps to prevent soil erosion and helps to reduce pests and diseases affecting plants & vegetables. It is a circular economy with zero waste. The core philosophy of the farm is sustainable food production whilst also building up wildflower meadows, recording insects, swift boxes and house martens, not cutting hedgerows and planting edible hedgerows for wildlife and shelter. Core to Darina’s work is sharing ideas on food sustainability with others through a permanent on-site cookery school. More information and a short podcast on Darina’s farm here.  Ambassador June 2020

Donal Sheehan  (Co.Cork)

Donal, along with his wife Ita and two children, farms a 70-cow dairy herd on ‘Blossom Farm’ near Castlelyons, in the Bride valley, Co. Cork. While Donal runs what would at first be considered a ‘typical’ intensive farm, he has a keen interest in farming in a more nature-friendly way. As he puts it ‘we try to push the boat out all the time trying to make farming around here more sustainable’. He dedicates a proportion of his farm to biodiversity including ponds, pollinator strips and wild bird cover for overwintering birds. He keeps bees and farms with these in mind minimising herbicide use.  He doesn’t cut hedges and has energy saving devices on his milking machines. Donal believes farmers can make a huge difference in improving biodiversity, lowering their carbon footprint and improving the quality of our water. Such is his conviction and vision, that he is one of the main drivers of an innovative new pilot project called The BRIDE (Biodiversity Regeneration In a Dairying Environment) Project which rewards farmers for delivering measurable improvements in biodiversity over a 5 year periodDonal is a very eloquent advocate for – and exponent of – farming for nature.  More information and a short film on Donal’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2018

Donna Mullen (Co.Meath)

Donna and her husband brought their 43-acre farm twenty years ago. It initially comprised of three large fields of intensive grassland with little plant or animal diversity. Through their work and dedication, it has been transformed into a nature reserve. They have planted 7 ½ acres of bird seed crop – oats, linseed and kale. There are now twenty-two species of birds on the farm, including species new to the farm: buzzards, mallard ducks, jays, woodcock and grasshopper warblers. 15 acres of woodland was added to increase species diversity. Two orchards of heritage Irish apple trees were planted as was an acre of wildflower meadow for pollinators. Over the last six years 1km of hedgerow has been planted. Hedgehogs were reintroduced last year and pine martins were recorded on the farm for the first time last year. A lake was created to encourage newts. Over 50 bat boxes are located  on the farm. What Donna and her family are doing on their farm is easily replicable, providing diverse habitats to encourage diverse species. Donna was nominated in 2019 and given the role of honorary ambassador in April 2020. More information on Donna’s farm and a podcast can be listened to hereAmbassador April 2020

Edmund Joyce (Co.Carlow)

Edmund Joyce is a drystock farmer from near Borris in Co Carlow. He was nominated in 2018 for the Farming For Nature Awards. He runs a herd of limousin-cross suckler cows and a flock of commercial Suffolk-cross ewes on the 125 acre holding. Since taking over the farm in 2007 Edmund has planted over 6000 native trees in different newly established groves around the farm. Red squirrels are a regular sight on his farm, and all 15 bird boxes have been occupied each year, even a pair of great spotted woodpeckers took up residence in one of the boxes this year. Both Soprano Pipistrelle bats and Brown Long Eared bats also present in the woodland. Whilst a number of barn owls are particularly attracted to the long grasses in an established wild meadow area and are nesting in the trees. The native apple orchard planted about 7 years ago is providing an abundance of fruit whilst the cottage garden has also been planted up with flowers and shrubs which are a haven for bees, butterflies and hedgehogs. Edmund chose the planting to compliment the setting whilst also providing a succession of plants from early spring right through to winter for nectar feeding insects. Water voles occupy a watercourse which runs the length of the farm whilst the dry-stone granite walls that subdivide the farm have provided ideal cover for other small mammals including stoats and pine martens. Edmund was nominated in 2018 and given the role of honorary ambassador in February 2020 from the 2019 Ambassador Awards. More information on Edmund’s farm and a film can be viewed hereAmbassador February 2020

Feargal Ó Cuinneagáin (Co.Mayo)

Feargal has 25 acres on the Mullet Peninsula where his primary objective is to return Corncrakes to the farm, while also boosting wider biodiversity including Twite (another ‘red-list’ bird), Chough, Barnacle Geese, pollinators, and habitats in their own right like a species-rich fen. Working on a farm plan with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Feargal is designing and implementing a series of measures to convert what was a rather lifeless monoculture of grass to a tapestry full of colour, sights and sounds as would have been commonplace throughout the Irish countryside in previous generations. Feargal has not only created a haven for important habitats and species, but is also trialling new and innovative measures in managing for wildlife on productive agricultural land. Since Feargal began farming for nature here, there has been a remarkable increase in the rare and threatened wildlife on his farm.  More information on Feargal’s farm and a podcast can be found hereAmbassador May 2020

Fergal Smith (Co.Clare)

Fergal Smith is one of the main drivers behind Moyhill Community Farm, a regenerative agriculture farm. At the farm they currently manage 66 acre of land with their main enterprise being 2 no dig market gardens both with roughly 100 x 30metre beds in each, and four tunnels.  Their aim is to regenerate soil, so they are bringing more animal enterprises on each year. Currently they have a small flerd of six cows and ten sheep. They run a turkey enterprise for Christmas with 160 birds this year and they have three pigs, which they have been using to clear rough land over the past seven years. They next plan to bring on laying hens, and increase the flerd.  They follow holistic management whereby all their animals are moved on daily or twice daily system.  They are inspired by the Savory Institute, and hope to become a Savory hub in the future.  They have a strong connection to the local community; all their sales are through direct selling models (CSA, market, farm shop, Reko ring, Neighbour food) and local restaurants.  They have planted 26,000 trees on the farm in an agri-forestry system (wind breaks, hedgerows and alleyways).  Outside of regenerating land, education is their other focus; they offer this through internships, open work days, and are building a farm system that needs more employees, as an alternative to being a stand alone farmer.  More information on Moyhill farm hereAmbassador August 2020 

Gerard Walshe (Co.Galway)

Gerard is a part-time farmer who runs a 85-acres farm near Moycullen, Co. Galway. Its scrub, woodland, and species rich grassland.  He manages that farm with the help of pedigree Belted Galloway cattle and is a enthusiastic believer and promoter of High Nature Value farming and farms with wildlife primarily in mind.  He is a good example of how marginal land can be farmed ecologically through correct stocking rates and represents the growing amount of part-time farmers.   “Farming needs to be supported toward ecological production not yield production”  More information and a short film on Gerard’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2019 

Jim Cronin (Co.Clare)

Jim Cronin has a 16-acres organic market garden farm in Co.Clare where he has been adopting biological agriculture principles for the last 30 years without loosing many of the traditional methods of farming. Jim’s entire farming ethos is seamlessly entwined with nature conservation. Not only does he create a habitat for pollinators and wildlife but also for all the unseen worms and micro-organisms which are fundamental to growing crops and sustaining life above ground. Jim has both a small suckler herd and 2 working horses that both help work the land and provide essential manure for soil fertility. Jim is both a teacher and a commercial grower of fruit and vegetables. Jim both combines the old traditions with new knowledge and methods based on sound principals as well as proves that one can make a good commercial yield from a small area without compromising nature. “Listen to your heart, yes you have to make money, but every farmer I know is a custodian of the land and intrinsically knows what is best for nature”.  He has distilled his farm knowledge down to an exact science and created a bank of wisdom.  Everything Jim does is a deliberate move to try to harness the resources that nature already offers us in terms of soil health, pest control and crop growth.  Most importantly there is the unquestioning fact that he loves what he does and what he does is a truly beautiful way of farming for nature. More information and a short film on Jim’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2020 

Joe and Eileen Condon (Co.Tipperary)

Joe and Eileen farm 50-acres of enclosed farmland along with 1000 acres of commonage in the Knockmealdown Mountains, Co. Tipperary.  They keep a herd of Belted Galloways and Galloways which are 100% grass fed and organic.  They chose these cattle as they are well suited to the uplands, can be outside all year and can have a positive impact on their environment by controlling invasive species.  They sell direct to customer.  They are a good example of farmers that manage commonage ecologically and have their cattle outside 12 months of the year.  “We don’t feel hard done by working with this land, we can see its benefits and how to capitalise on that is to work in sync with nature than trying to manipulate nature to give you something that isn’t naturally there.”   More information and a short film on Joe and Eileen’s farm here.  Ambassadors October 2019 

John McHugh (Co.Laois)

John McHugh has a 230-acre organic dairy farm in Co.Laois. He moved away from being an intensive dairy farmer in 2015 when he realised that he needed to create a sustainable and resilient lifestyle that his children could carry on.  He is a farmer that has adapted from a commodity and profit driven production system of dairy farming to one that is focused on family succession, long term environmental goals and nature based farming. A farm that is being built around supporting and developing his local community – developing the Clondarrig Community Farm Project.  Since 2015, he has sown diverse pastures, practises holistic grazing that allows pastures to flower and seed enabling some natural succession to take place and bringing about huge jumps in insect populations. “Having long grazing intervals and reduced grazing pressure is allowing more natural diversity back into the farm”. He has embraced the principles of Permaculture, converting pastures to agroforestry and lining cow access roadways with fruit and nut trees. Pigs were introduced to the farm as another means of promoting diversity, helping to break the dominance of perennial rye grass and create opportunities for other plants.  Oats are sown to provide the straw and grain requirements and the surplus is sold to Flahavans for organic porridge.  In 2018 he decided to open up his farm to people that were able to teach others about engaging with the land and reconnecting with nature, this saw the birth of the Clondarrig community farm project. “Its all about connection, connection of trees, wildlife, butterflies, but the connection with people as well”.  More information and a short film on John’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2020 

Kate Egan (Co.Westmeath)

Kate runs a 9-acre chemical free farm dedicated to biodiversity and permaculture in Ballymore, Co. Westmeath.  She bought the farm with her partner, Tom, just a couple of years ago and is a good example of which can be achieved both in terms of habitat building and yield production in a short amount of time.  Kate’s products include vegetables, fruits, geese, ducks, and hens are sold at a local market, helping to reduce food miles and support the local economy.  She is a building up a farm that is climate resilient and incorporate wildlife into all parts of the farm. “Our first priority is offering a sanctuary, providing an oasis for wildlife”  More information and a short film on Kate’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2019 

Kim and Mirielle McCall  (Co.Kildare)

Kim and Mireille manage a 214-acre mixed livestock stock farm in Calverstown, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. They keep a herd of 75 pedigree suckler cows and their followers, a flock of c.80 sheep, as well as a few pigs in the summertime. The farm boasts a wide range of habitats – wetlands, woodlands, wet and dry grasslands, old buildings and walls. Kim acknowledges that farming sustainably isn’t easy, particularly trying to remain profitable, but feels that if you manage the land within its capacity, it’s very doable – ‘farming for nature, not against it’ as he says. No artificial fertilizers are purchased, no pesticides are used and hedgerows and grasslands are rarely topped – ‘tidiness is a state of mind’ according to Kim – with the preferred approach being a careful and balanced management which has resulted in an ideal situation for nature – birds, butterflies, bees – to thrive. The McCalls work in this regard has been recognised by several National awards and several appearances on TV. The McCalls work closely with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, providing valuable data. Kim is concerned about changes in the rural landscape, in particular the loss of wetlands to forestry, as we try to increase carbon sequestration, a potentially worrying trade-off in his opinion. He offers the following advice on farming for nature: ‘Stand back and look – observation is the basis for intelligence’. Here is a leaflet that Kim and his wife Mirielle put together on their farm. View here: Calverstown Farm     More information and a short film on Kim and Mirielle’s farm hereAmbassador October 2018

Mark and Alison Hurst (Co.Kildare)

Mark and Alison Hurst run the 70-acre Featherfield farm with their farm manager, Julian Laitenberger in Lullymore, Co.Kildare. The farm is very diverse with enterprises such as beef production with Dexter cattle, a small sheep enterprise, a poultry layer and as well as a collection of rare breed poultry. There is also a small vegetable and fruit growing as well as a beekeeping enterprise.  They sell direct to customer and have an education centre as they are keen to encourage others to grow and produce food in a sustainable manner.  “We are just visitors on this land, and strive to leave it better than we found it for nature…whilst making an income”  More information and a short film on Mark and Alison’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2019 

Mervyn Auchmuty (Co.Roscommon)

Mervyn manages a 500-acre mixed cattle and tillage farm with his father along the shore of Lough Ree, Co.Roscommon.  The farm uses a low disturbance strip till system to protect soil structure, increase earthworms, reduce leaching and prevent soil erosion. They use cover crops which are then mulched on top of the soil as a green manure. Additionally, slurry has been spread using a low-emission system for the last 10 years in intensively farmed areas of their land.  Mervyn’s is a good example of a farm that is making the transition from intensive methods of spraying to working with nature whilst not effecting the yield.  “The earthworm has gone up four times since I stopped ploughing”.   More information and a short film on Mervyn’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2019 

Michael Hickey  (Co.Tipperary)

Michael runs a 100-acre organic farm in New Inn, Co.Tipperary where he  manages half the farm for tillage and the rest for his herd of 40 Aberdeen Angus and horses. The farm has a variety of habitats including seasonally flooded grasslands, fen areas, pastures and meadows. Michael manages his field boundaries as habitats and is a good example of someone who has spent the time looking to see what management practices best suits each habitat to give the most for biodiversity.  “I have given 30% of my farm over to habitats”  More information and a short film on Michael’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2019

Oliver Nagle (Co.Clare)

Oliver and his family farm 121 acres of winterage, meadow and pasture on the Burren at Slieve Carran, Co. Clare. He has been involved in the Burren Programme since it began and manages his land in a way that exemplifies farming for nature. Oliver has done a variety of conservation actions on the farm, including restoring old field systems and protecting natural springs. He is passionate about nature and shares his knowledge freely with the next generation through farm walks with Botany students from NUIG. In doing this, he is spreading a real understanding of what it means to farm for nature among the next generation. Oliver won the national ‘Farming Together with Biodiversity’ award in recognition for his efforts in conservation farming in February 2019.  Oliver was made an Honorary FFN Ambassador in November 2019.  More information and a short film on Oliver’s farm hereAmbassador November 2019

Olly Nolan (Co.Dublin)

Olly started his 8.5 acre farm in 2012 and since then has been developing it into a self-sufficient farm with nature and wildlife in mind. He has planted over a thousand native trees. He has converted a disused sand arena into an organic vegetable garden, planted an orchard with mainly traditional fruit trees and keeps a small herd of Irish Dexters and a couple of rare breed pigs. Although not organically certified, the farm is run organically, recycling everything and producing its own compost and mulches. Olly keeps a large number of beehives around Dublin/ Wicklow mountains, helping to pollinate the heather on Wicklow Mountains National Park. His ‘honey house’ is completely powered by solar panels. He harvests rain water from all the buildings to use in the veg garden and water the animals so as not to take too much ground water from the well. He makes his own hay or silage and never cuts before July to allow nesting birds a chance to rear their young.  Olly was made an Honorary FFN Ambassador in March 2020.  More information and a short film on Olly’s farm hereAmbassador March 2020

Padraig Corcoran (Co.Roscommon)

Padraig has a cattle and sheep enterprise on their holding in Mount Plunkett, near Lough Ree, Co. Roscommon. Padraic manages this 54-acre section of an old estate – which he and his family run as a Nature Reserve – composed of diverse range of tillage, grassland, woodland and wetland. He has restored woodland, planted new hedgerows, dug ponds, installed bat and bird boxes and restored wetland areas for breeding waders of conservation importance by clearing encroaching scrub.  He has established plots for wild birds and used seed mixes that are optimum for biodiversity.  Padraig is very knowledgeable and keen to advocate for getting the best for biodiversity from his landscape.  “We don’t do anything special, just care for what’s there. Farming is about being sensitive and compassionate to the environment that we are working in’.   More information and a short film on Padraig’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2018

Pádraic Ó Flaithearta (Co.Galway)

Pádraic Ó Flaithearta runs a small suckler farm on Inis Mór, Co. Galway. The farm is predominantly composed of orchid-rich calcareous grasslands and machair, two priority habitats under the EU Habitats Directive, as a result 51.78ha of his 55ha holding is designated as a Special Area of Conservation. Pádraic’s management is responsible for the conservation of some of the best examples of calcareous grassland in Ireland. The machair is home to a significant number of breeding lapwings as well as three species of terns, plover, wheatear and skylarks – Pádraic managed his grazing regime to minimise disturbance he also actively monitors the populations of these bird species as well as the negative influences such as predation by hooded crows and overgrazing by rabbits. Pádraic manages the species-rich grassland to maximise species diversity addressing the many negative influences that can reduce species diversity, this includes active scrub control, targeted grazing and minimising nutrient input. More information and a short film on Pádraic’s farm here.  Ambassador September 2020

Pat Dunne (Co.Wicklow)

Pat is a sixth-generation hill sheep farmer in Glenmalure valley, County Wicklow. He farms with his two sons, together keeping 1,100 ewes on 1,250 acres of commonage. The farm is 90% mountain grazing, mostly dry heath and upland grassland which is all designated SAC and NHA. The area is rich in wildlife, including grouse. Pat takes his role as the current “keeper” of the family’s long tradition of work on the uplands seriously and is anxious to hand-over the Wicklow hills in the best possible condition to the next generation of upland farmers. He feels that over the last 40 years there has been a slow but progressive decline in hill sheep farming, with the quality of the grazing declining along with the associated biodiversity, as bracken and Molinia start to take over. Pat was determined to work out a solution to this issue and was instrumental in establishing the new Sustainable Upland Agri-Environmental Scheme (SUAS) so that farmers can work together to the better of the uplands. The project will explore key management issues including vegetation management through targeted grazing, feeding and burning. Pat feels that it is important to keep these places ‘as living landscapes, not just wilderness’. Though he recognises the challenges, Pat loves farming and ‘doesn’t know a better way of life’.  He was one of the first Wicklow farmers to establish an “Agreed Access Route” on his lands. He is very involved in the local community, also in the Wicklow Uplands Council and at a National level on the IFA’s Hill committee.  More information and a short film on Pat’s farm here.   Ambassador October 2018

Sean O’Farrell (Co.Tipperary)

Sean manages a 60-acre certified organic Cloncannon farm on the western slopes of the Devil’s bit Mountains, near Moneygall in North Tipperary. Sean keeps a 20 cow suckler herd, as well as pigs, poultry and goats. With a Master’s degree in Biodiversity and Conservation, Sean is a heritage enthusiast, continuously planting native trees, putting in ponds for wildlife and pollinator strips for his beehives and birdlife.  He does this to encourage biodiversity but also for his personal fulfilment and satisfaction ‘for when he has aged 30 or 40 years from now’. He says that this is part of ‘my 5 year plan, my 50 year plan, my 500 year plan’ and feels that farmers should think long-term like the native Americans, ‘seven generations from now’ Sean feels he is on a journey of learning and he is particularly passionate about the importance of soil and making sure it is properly nurtured to ensure good crop health – ‘the microbes and the fungi – so minute yet so powerful, they drive the whole system’.  Sean runs numerous education programmes for primary and secondary schools, hosts events for Biodiversity and Heritage Week and opens the farm as an eco-tourist visitor site.  More information and a short film on Sean’s farm here.   Ambassador October 2018

Shackleton Family (Co.Cavan)

The Shackleton family farm 320-acres and have been providing organic grass-fed beef and lamb to their customer since 1996. Grazing traditional breeds Aberdeen Angus and Belted Galloway occurs on 60ha of the farm. The farm also has 5ha of semi-natural habitats including bogs, wetland (Mullagh Lake), woodland, hedgerows, hay meadows and stonewalls, all of which are managed by owners who have qualifications in ecology, landscape design and environmental management. New habitats have been created, such as a 20ha mixed conifer and hardwood woodland which is managed as agroforestry; hedgerows and an ornamental garden which supports a varied bird population. The farm has a traditional orchard, bee hive and is self-sufficient in vegetables. Monitoring of birds and insects for Biodiversity Ireland is ongoing. The farm is also open for farm walks for IOGFA, Bord Bia and others. A boardwalk and birdwatching hide have been constructed along the lake edge. A publicly assessable nature walk passes through the farm and the explanatory information panel along this route in the farm is curated by the owners. The Shackletons are fully committed to their approach to farming and enthusiastic to share this knowledge and experience online, with groups, the local community and schools. They believe “Farming extensively is the future, it is better for the bank, the life balance, the herd and most importantly the wildlife”.  More information and a short film on their farm here.   Ambassadors October 2020

Sinéad Moran and Michael McGrath (Co.Mayo)

Sinéad Moran & Mick McGrath own a micro-dairy with a herd of traditional breed cows on 40-acres of high nature value farmland in Co. Mayo where they sell raw organic milk direct to customer. They are passionate about conserving the species-rich grass, mature trees and both retaining and enhancing biodiversity that is found on their farm. The land has been in Mick’s family for years and was never farmed intensively. The ground hasn’t been re-seeded, overstocked, fields widen or hedges removed. The land has an old orchard, an old cottage, granary and mature trees dominate all but a few boundaries. This landscape relies on grazing animals and they manage it in a way that both conserves and preserves the land’s biodiversity through holistic grazing while still producing nutrient-rich food for direct sale to the local community.  “Our rich yellow butter is down to both the traditional breeds we use but also the diversity they eat… if anyone wants to something to farm better for nature, then definitely include more diversity both in the animals and what they eat”.  Sinéad is passionate about environmental issues and climate activism, and has open up her farm as a place of educating others on what they can do to mitigate climate change.  More information and a short film on their farm here.   Ambassadors October 2020

Stephen Morrison (Co.Kildare)

Stephen is a full time farmer with an 80 cow suckler herd, taking all progeny to finish.  He is not organic but is transitioning away from inputs.  He also has a tillage and forestry enterprise in place. Whilst the farm is busy and productive, Stephen farms in a balanced way that he has a low impact on the wildlife that live and breed on these lands. He continues to add biodiversity each year. He has fenced off the watercourses on the farm and allowed riparian margins to develop along these areas. “The biggest eyeopener for me was when I fenced off the water courses what I noticed was how much nature just came back and took hold over the years” He has dug out a network of ponds in an area of fen to provide a habitat of any aquatic species that may colonise this special area.  He planted 18 acres of native woodlands, also has a 2-acre plot that is in wildbird cover for the past three years. Additionally, a wildbird area has been planted with bushes and trees specifically chosen for their potential to provide nuts and seeds for birds located alongside the Hartwell Stream that flows through the farm. The most recent addition has been a forest garden planted last winter – the acre plot is full of bushes and trees but each one of the 150 plants will produce fruit, nuts or seeds.  “It is about giving nature a chance, and sometimes it is more about what you don’t do than what you do”.  More information and a short film on Stephen’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2020 

Suzanna Crampton (Co.Kilkenny)

Suzanna’s farm is near Bennetts Bridge, in Co. Kilkenny. The farm’s species-rich meadows and pastures, woodlands, parkland, and numerous stand-alone mature trees, form a haven for local wildlife. She farms 12 acres on which she has 30 ewes and followers. They have access to a mixed sward with 17 different species of grasses alone. Suzanna practices regenerative agriculture with a rare breed of sheep that is triflective (milk, meat, fleece). She designs blankets from the wool that she has won awards for over the years. Additionally, a decades-old traditional orchard provides bountiful fruit and further herb-rich grazing for her sheep, with mature hedges that add even more habitat diversity for native plants, insects and birds. Suzanna regularly undertakes public engagements speaking to local, national and international audiences about regenerative farming. Suzanna was nominated in 2019 and awarded the Farming For Nature Honorary Ambassador 2019 role in January 2020.  More information and a short film on Suzanna’s farm here.  Ambassador January 2020

Tommy Earley (Co.Roscommon)

Tommy manages his 100-acre organic Aberdeen Angus suckler farm on the shores of Lough Allen, Co. Roscommon. He has been farming organically on the site since 1996 with a clear focus on nature and habitat conservation. His farm has high natural value with a variety of habitats such as intact raised bog, mature native woodland, species rich acidic grassland, wildflower meadows, lakeshore and river.  Tommy’s active role in local conservation has inspired others to follow his example in promoting nature on their own lands.  “We have lost of a sense of connectiveness under our feet and once we get that reestablished we will be on our way to a healthier planet”   More information and a short film on Tommy’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2019 

Thomas and Claire O’Connor (Co.Kerry)

Thomas and Claire manage a 25-acre mixed organic farm in Gleann na Gealt, Camp, Co. Kerry. They produce vegetables, salads, wheatgrass, meat, poultry and eggs which they sell locally in their shop in Tralee (Manna Organic Store). They have 15-acres of native Irish woodland and 4-acres of permaculture including fruit trees.  They are a great example of diverse food production and biodiversity production all on very marginal land, of proving what is possible.  “Climate change is caused by the disconnection with the land and we need to produce farming systems that are less energy intensive”   More information and a short film on Thomas and Claire’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2019 

Thomas Keane (Co.Galway)

Tom Keane farms in the Dawros catchment in Connemara. He farms 160 mountain ewes on a mosaic of high nature value peatlands and wet grasslands and is a participant of the Pearl Mussel Project EIP. The Pearl Mussel Project rewards farmers for the ecological quality of their land, which in turn contributes to the pristine water quality needed by the Freshwater Pearl Mussel. Tom’s system of farming has maintained and enhanced large areas of active Atlantic blanket bog, achieving a score of 10/10 on the Pearl mussel peatland score card for much of it. This is an excellent example of perfectly intact peatland which is farmed in a manner to benefit both the stock and the land. Tom is very passionate about where he farms, he feels one of the best things about farming in this area is the wild nature of the area.  He ensures his stock are rotated regularly and works with nature to get the best from his land.  Tom is a farmer with a strong understanding of the crucial importance of his land management to the environment. He notices and knows nature, as he does farming, recognising not just the challenges but the rewards of hill farming.  More information and a short film on Thomas’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2020

Trevor Harris (Co.Kildare)

Trevor runs two farms, there is the home farm, 140-acres, which is cattle and sheep both organic and biodynamic certified.  He grazes the two together, selling his beef directly and the lamb is through ICM.  It is a mixed enterprise with 12 acres in forestry and 40acres in cereal – he sells his oats to Flavahans and his barley to make a biodynamic whiskey. The second farm is horticultural land, 14 acres outdoors and 1500sqm indoors, where he is growing vegetables for restaurants, a box scheme and retail. On both farms, Trevor is passionate about soil health which is to the fore in his approach to management of his enterprise, the focus is to build resilience in the soil through diversity. “I feel it is so important to build the fertility in the soil as where there is a good biome, the produce will taste better.” This involves getting the right mineral balance and physical soil structure to encourage soil biology to flourish. Diversity of plants also encourages diversity in the insect and bird communities which helps keep everything in balance so that no one species will dominate and cause problems for the farm crops.    He has planted trees and hedges. He has planted an oak woodland (3 acres). He has established a small orchard with a native meadow underneath. He believes “one thing we can all do is just leave our hedgerows grow and flourish”. Trevor produces good yields without any chemical inputs.  More information and a short film on Trevor’s farm here.  Ambassador October 2020

 

Are you interested in being nominated for the annual Farming For Nature Awards and want to know more then view our FAQs section here.

 

Are you interested in seeing what food products, accommodation, tours and other things that our current ambassador offer.  Then go here.

See a short video with our 2019 Ambassadors below:

See a short video with our 2018 Ambassadors below:

Sign up for our newsletter

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.
Scroll to Top