Ask the Farmer Sessions

What:

Farming For Nature Ambassadors Darina Allen, Mervyn Auchmuty,  Suzanna Crampton, Feargal Ó Cuinneagain, and Bridget Murphy  will be our featured guests during our upcoming ‘Ask the Farmer’ sessions this summer.

These Monday evening sessions will include a short interview with the featured farmer and then an open Q&A session where you can ‘ask the farmer’ about anything you want to know about farming for nature on their farm, with a focus on practical management advice. It is a great opportunity to learn from our amazing Ambassadors who work with nature every day on their farms, and also to share your own ideas and experience of ‘Farming for Nature’.

This will be all done online through Zoom which you can access on your smart phone or computer.  All you have to do is register for free on the relevant link below.  Note spaces are limited to 100 to do sign up as soon as possible if interested.

When:

These sessions will take place on Mondays in July and August at 8pm online through Zoom and will last up to one hour.

6th July: Dairy, horticulture & food education with Darina Allen    Register here: https://bit.ly/AsktheFarmerDAllen

13th July: Farming tillage, beef & nature with Mervyn Auchmuty   Register here: https://bit.ly/AsktheFarmerMA

20th July: Farming with sheep & agritourism with Suzanna Crampton    Register here: https://bit.ly/AsktheFarmerSC

27th July: Farming for habitats & species with Feargal Ó Cuinneagáin    Register here: https://bit.ly/AsktheFarmerFOC

3rd August: Hillfarming & species richness with Bridget Murphy  Register here: https://bit.ly/AsktheFarmerBM

 

Who:

Darina Allen: 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 throughout the year, and is home to free-range pigs, beef, approximately 600 hens and dairy cows which are milked daily to produce local cheese and yoghurt. Vegetable crops with a whole range of native Irish organic produce is grown is on a quarter acre site. 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. They make every effort to not only minimise impact on the environment but to enhance it where possible. Core to Darina’s work is sharing ideas on food sustainability with others through a permanent on-site cookery school and a number of other courses.  Darina was awarded the Farming For Nature Ambassador role in June 2020.  More information and a short podcast (coming soon) on Darina’s farm here. https://www.farmingfornature.ie/nominees/darina-allen/
Register for Darina’s Q&A session here: bit.ly/AsktheFarmerDA

Mervyn Auchmuty: 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”.  Mervyn was awarded the Farming For Nature Ambassador role in October 2019. More information and a short film on Mervyn’s farm here. https://www.farmingfornature.ie/nominees/mervyn-auchmuty
Register for Mervyn’s Q&A session here:  https://bit.ly/AsktheFarmerMA

Suzanna Crampton: 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. So is also a published author.  Suzanna was awarded the Farming For Nature Ambassador role in January 2020.  More information and a short film on Suzanna’s farm here. https://www.farmingfornature.ie/nominees/suzanna-crampton/
Register for Suzanna’s Q&A session here: https://bit.ly/AsktheFarmerSC

Feargal Ó Cuinneagáin: 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.  Feargal was awarded the Farming For Nature Ambassador role in May 2020.  More information on Feargal’s farm and a podcast can be found here: https://www.farmingfornature.ie/nominees/feargal-o-cuinneagain-2/
Register for Feargal’s Q&A session here: https://bit.ly/AsktheFarmerFOC

Bridget Murphy:  Bridget has been living on and farming mountain land on her own 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. Bridget is to be Farming For Nature’s Ambassador for July 2020.  More information on her farm here: https://www.farmingfornature.ie/nominees/bridget-murphy/  
Register for Bridget’s Q&A session here: https://bit.ly/AsktheFarmerBM

 

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