The inaugural winner of the National Farming for Nature Award 2018 will be announced by MEP Mairead McGuinness this Saturday, 27th October at a special event in in Kinvara, Co. Galway compered by journalist Ella McSweeney. The awards ceremony will be the closing event of the 2018 Burren Winterage School www.burrenwinterage.com which has delegates from eight EU countries discussing the theme ‘Farming for Nature’.
Over the past four weeks members of the public, and in particular the farming community, were asked to vote for one of six shortlisted farmers as their top pick for the prestigious Farming for Nature award, part of a wider independent initiative (www.farmingfornature.ie) which hopes to source, share and celebrate the stories of those farmers across Ireland who are doing great things for nature on their land and in their community. The shortlist was compiled from an initial longlist of farmers which was nominated by over 150 environmental professionals
One of the Award organisers, Brendan Dunford, said that ‘While we are acutely conscious of the negative impacts that farming can have on our environment, it is important to celebrate those farmers who are doing good things for nature. It is our hope that these farmers can inspire others – this year’s nominees are such inspirational people – to do a little more for nature on their own farm. It’s not easy, given the poor market returns, the drive for efficiency and the impact of new technologies. The awards are a small thank-you to these people who are at the coalface of nature conservation whose voice and practical insights need to be heard and whose work should be supported.
Project co-ordinator Brigid Barry felt that the public buy-in for the project has been really positive: ‘We are delighted with the level of public support and engagement this first year. The nominees are a fantastic cross section of the Irish farming community, great characters with great knowledge to share. Over the past month thousands of people have viewed short films of the nominees and we’ve received thousands of votes to help decide the winner’.
Burren farmer Michael Davoren, one of the judges, felt that the grass roots nature of this project is what makes it genuine: ‘What I like about this Award is that it gives voice to the farmer on the ground who deals with nature every day. Too often its some expert or other talking about nature but that’s just one perspective, it’s so important to also hear from those people who are out in nature every day and have a real love and working knowledge of it’.
The national Farming for Nature Award is sponsored by An Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Rural Network, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Irish Farmers Association, the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Teagasc, the Irish Farmer’s Journal and the Heritage Council. The announcement of the awards will be on Saturday 27th October, 2018 in the Kinvara Community Centre, Co.Galway.