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. Ailbhe gained a 3 year MSc. Organic Farming. Ailbhe’s farm enterprises include: organically certified lamb, honey bees, agri-environment – including 3 ha flower meadows, conventional tillage, and, native woodland and broadleaf plantation.
Ailbhe successfully lobbied the Department of Agriculture to extend the pilot badger TB vaccination programme to Tipperary, thereby saving extensive badger setts on Brookfield Farm and the locality from culling. Ailbhe presented at the Teagasc 2017 forestry conference on broadleaf farm forestry and at the Sheep 2018 Farm to Fork and artisan food.
Brookfield is a Teagasc demonstration farm training farmers in GLAS agri-environment actions. Leading by her example, some of the local farmers are joining GLAS and are integrating agri-environmental actions. See, for example, her farm’s website: https://www.brookfield.farm/pages/about-us
In 2015 Ailbhe bought an additional 4 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 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. You will find additional supporting material here - video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puUTdw18LqY
Ailbhe runs frequent farm walks, open days and communicates regularly on social media, local and national newspapers and radio. See: https://www.brookfield.farm/pages/events https://www.brookfield.farm/blogs/news. In 2014, Brookfield Farm hosted the All Ireland Permaculture Gathering; with dozens of workshops on food sustainability. This nominator attended the gathering, and was impressed by the farm, the talks by Ailbhe, and by the concern for the environment which she showed. In 2017, Ailbhe gave a presentation in Brussels on EU rural diversification; she participated in a joint workshop with DAFM and the Department Enterprise, and also in 2017 she met with Prince Charles; and in 2018 she participated in the UN/FAO/Africa conference on farm agribusiness. Features in media include: Farmer’s Journal, Sunday Independent, Image Interiors and Living, Irish Times, RTE, Newstalk.
Ailbhe is a Nuffield Agricultural Scholar. She travelled the globe 2016, 2017 to research farmers selling directly to consumers, and she presented a report at the 2017 Nuffield Conference. She currently lectures at Gurteen Agricultural College, teaching ‘Key Issues in Agriculture’ and Farm Business planning and management; and she is preparing regenerative agriculture courses in the UK as a trainer with Organics International 2019. Ailbhe participated in the ACORNS entrepreneur programmes 2015, and she is involved with a Teagasc and GMIT Letterfrack project to test Irish hardwoods quality and provide new markets for small dimension hardwoods. Ailbhe is interested in gaining Origin Green status, and she hopes to do so in the very near future; in my view she meets all of the relevant criteria. Please find included in this nomination form some photographs below which will show something of the work which Ailbhe is doing; and you will also find attached to this form (or sent separately by email) a brochure describing her farm and her work.
Two short films featuring Brookfield Farm and Ailbhe Gerrard. This first one is a short documentary on beekeeping entered for BAFTA short film award.
And here is a link to the Ireland 2040 video with Brookfield Farm landscapes and quotes on farming and rural Ireland's economy:
(Nominator: Jack O'Sullivan, Environmental Management Services)