FARMING FOR NATURE AMBASSADOR 2019
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. She is a Nuffield Agricultural Scholar and lectures at Gurteen Agricultural College. Ailbhe was made an Honorary FFN Ambassador in December 2019.
I think this farmer deserves national recognition for his/her work in farming for nature because:
1. Ailbhe Gerrard has made a significant contribution to the protection and enhancement of nature on her farm and locality.
Ailbhe Gerrard purchased Brookfield Farm – 26 ha close to her Tipperary family home late 2010. Ailbhe took on the challenge to turn around a neglected farm through innovation and diversification to make a farm living. While caring for her terminally ill mother, (RIP 2013) Ailbhe gained a 3 year MSc. Organic Farming.
· organically certified sheep enterprise,
· honey bees,
· agri environment – including 3 ha flower meadows
· conventional tillage
· Native woodland + broadleaf plantation
Ailbhe lobbied the Dept. Ag to extend the pilot badger TB vaccination programme to Tipperary, saving extensive badger setts on Brookfield Farm + locality from culling.
Ailbhe presented on alternative farming enterprises at: Teagasc 2017 forestry conference on broadleaf farm forestry + Sheep 2018 farm to fork and artisan food event + Teagasc Options course.
Brookfield is a Teagasc demonstration farm training farmers in GLAS agri-environment actions.
Leading by example, local farmers are joining GLAS and integrating agri-environmental actions.
Ailbhe has just been awarded the RDS Sustainable Farming Award 2019 - more here: - https://www.brookfield.farm/blogs/news/rds-sustainable-farming-awards-brookfield-farm-winner-24th-april-2019
2. Ailbhe’s farm is agriculturally, economically and socially progressive.
In 2015 Ailbhe bought an additional 3 hectares with broadleaf forestry, a cottage and outbuildings to support her agri-business focused on biodiversity, hives and beeswax candles.
Brookfield Farm Hivegifts agri-business activity has driven up Ailbhe’s income nearly fivefold from when she started farming in 2010.
Ailbhe has successfully applied for the Traditional Farmyard GLAS grant, TAMS grants, Forestry grants and agri-business development grants. Grants mean the farm can hire skills in on a project basis, which provides local employment.
Ailbhe is improving the farm’s forest cover with native woodland and agroforestry and producing food.
A recent article in Teagasc’s Today’s Farm reports Ailbhe’s turnover per ha is higher than many dairy farms, and Irish Farmers' Journal featured her here in recent weeks: https://www.brookfield.farm/blogs/media/irish-farmers-journal-this-will-keep-me-on-the-right-track-tipp-farmer-scoops-sustainability-award.
Supporting material here - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPul07rTAKkecKQVQtfdO2w
3. Ailbhe has shared her passion with others.
Ailbhe runs frequent farm walks, open days and communicates regularly on social media, local and national newspapers and radio. See:https://www.brookfield.farm/blogs/media and
https://www.brookfield.farm/blogs/events and https://www.brookfield.farm/blogs/news
4. Ailbhe has a record of engagement with other stakeholders.
Ailbhe lectures at Gurteen Agricultural College, teaching ‘Key Issues in Agriculture’, 'Sustainable Agriculture' and other courses as required.
Ailbhe is a Nuffield Agricultural Scholar. She travelled the globe 2016, 2017 to research farmers selling directly to consumers, presented report at the 2017 Nuffield Conference.
Ailbhe has taught a regenerative agriculture course in the UK as a trainer with Organics International February 2019.
See a feature on her here: https://www.organicwithoutboundaries.bio/2019/04/24/organic-farmer/?fbclid=IwAR35J7-OTRzCC3LmZyreTNtMkGBsKE8MiDuf7WUfY3knugm2k8o5re07djQ
Participating in the ACORNS entrepreneur programmes 2015, 2018/9.
Ailbhe is involved with a Teagasc and GMIT Letterfrack project to test Irish hardwoods quality and provide new markets for small dimension hardwoods.
Nominator: Michael Somers, Forest Development Officer, Teagasc