“There is awakening that has to happen in Irish farming… We also need to challenge the political system and I think empowering farmers is one of the best ways of going about that.” Fergal Anderson, FFN Ambassador 2021.
The Farming for Nature (FFN) project is delighted to welcome Galway-based farming duo Fergal Anderson & Emanuela Russo to their growing Ambassador network. Now in its fourth year, FFN was set up with an aim to source, share and celebrate the stories of farmers across Ireland who manage their land in a way that sustains nature, while providing a livelihood for their family. This years FFN Ambassadors come from across Ireland and include beef, sheep, forestry, dairy, horticulture and tillage farmers who manage a wide range of very valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows. The FFN ambassador network is made up of family farms, couples, and both male and female farmers.
Fergal Anderson & Emanuela Russo of Leaf and Root Farm run a market garden in Loughrea county Galway. The farm is comprised of 30 acres in total, 25 of which is mixed forestry. The remaining 5 acres are used to produce a vast range of agroecologically produced vegetables and fruits, including but not limited to, beets, chard, kale, radish, blackcurrants, gooseberries, loganberries, apples, plums, pears and a range of medicinal herbs. They sell their produce direct to customers and supply restaurants in Galway.
Fergal and Emanuela have been working on the land for 8 years – gradually building the soil and transforming the land into a productive farm that is economically and ecologically sustainable. Bees are kept on the farm and they plan to reintroduce chickens and include them in their vegetable rotation system. They use a diverse range of green manures on the farm to increase the fertility of the soil as well as enhancing the soil biology and structure. They grow summer green manure crops to provide food for insects.
The farm is full of biodiversity – there is a stream in the woodland which has crayfish and otter in it. There are two small ponds on the farm with frogs and newts. There are red squirrel and pine marten, foxes, hares, bats and sparrowhawks. They have planted ‘natural edges’ around the land with hazel, hawthorn and other native trees. They leave ‘wild spaces’ around as much of the land as possible to further increase biodiversity on the farm.
FFN is featuring their Ambassadors on a bi-monthly basis until August 2022. Keep an eye on FFN’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter platforms to learn more about these wonderful farmers and the valuable work they are doing for nature on their land. FFN will work with these inspiring ambassadors to produce farm videos, podcasts, ‘Ask the Farmer’ sessions, farm walks and more. Go to www.farmingfornature.ie to learn about this incredible network of Ambassador farmers and to access further information, resources and tips.
The Farming for Nature Awards are sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Rural Network.
For more information go to their page.