Andrew Chilton manages 2 farms in Co Roscommon alongside his family. The first farm is 6 ha of marginal land and is certified organic. An advocate for diversity on farms, there is a mix of animals kept on this farm including a small herd of Dexters and at different times there are pigs, goats, sheep and chickens. They grow vegetables for the home and there is an apple and plum orchard on the farm as well. Andrew has trialled different methods of agroforestry on this land including planting field corners and nature corridors, and block planting. He plants between 50-100 trees on the land every year. Andrew has dug 2 ponds on the land which has attracted many insects and birds to the land - “There is tremendous birdlife on the land, we have counted over 30 different bird species on the farm.”
The second farm borders Lough Key and is surrounded by woodland. A herd of 52 alpacas are kept on this farm and Andrew produces alpaca fleece which is processed in the UK and the finished pillow and duvet products are sold directly from the farm. They also run farm tours and alpaca trekking. All of the animals are on a rotational grazing system and overwinter outdoors. Andrew has been increasing the diversity of grass species in the pasture in recent years. There is also an apiary on the farm and honey is sold commercially.
Andrew works with Social Farming Ireland and teaches the NOTS Organic Production Principles Course. He is also a farm advisor/planner.
Deeply embedded in organic and social farming in Ireland for the last 15 years, Andrew Chilton is one of the most highly-respected figures in the sector. Hailing from South Africa, Andrew moved to Ireland in the late 1990s, and after some high-powered jobs in Dublin, packed up and moved west in order to start a new life in farming.
Andrew has three main farming hats at the moment. He is the head trainer for the NOTS' Organic Production Principles course, the Border Midlands Regional Development Officer for Social Farming Ireland, and runs Knockvicar Alpaca Farm close to his home near Boyle, Co Roscommon.
One of the most important social farming enterprises in Ireland, Social Farming provides people who use services with the opportunity for inclusion, to increase self-esteem and to improve health and well-being by taking part in day to day farm activities on a family farm. Andrew is involved in recruiting and training social farmers across the midlands, west, and border counties.
Knockvicar Alpaca Farm offer a variety of Alpaca Experiences for all ages. From meet and greet farm visit to private group experiences and alpaca trekking. There are more than 50 alpacas on the farm, and Andrew and his family and team care for them with the highest level of respect and love. The alpaca tours that Andrew and the team run are a superb outing for all the family.
In addition to on-farm work, Andrew is also an educator, and is the chief trainer for the Organic Production Principles course that NOTS run multiple times each year. Andrew's courses have been responsible for hundreds of entrants to the Organic Farming Scheme over the past 5 years.
Nominator: Kevin Fagan, Communications Manager, NOTS