In 2019, Brendan Guinan embarked on a journey of transforming 26 acres of neglected forestry into a regenerative farm. Backing on to Cul na Móna bog, this diverse piece of land contains Ash, Oak, Alder, Sycamore and Pine trees. Brendan has carefully thinned the woodland entirely by hand, creating ¼ acre paddocks for his grazing animals. He has worked hard to ensure his farm works in harmony with the native flora and fauna that are present on the land. Coming from a family farming background, Brendan values farming traditions from generations gone while also understanding the importance of progression in farming systems - “I want to maintain traditional ways of farming but with a modern twist”.
Brendan combines Planned Holistic Grazing and Agroforestry to ensure his animals get a rich and varied diet, while simultaneously enhancing soil biology and capturing carbon. Brendan produces free-range veal, free-range Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, free-range turkeys as well as free-range eggs. The animals are pasture fed and remain outdoors year-round, sheltered by the cover of the trees during the wintertime. There is a natural spring on the land where Brendan plans to build a pond to keep brown trout and create a water habitat. On the farm there are pine martins, foxes, pheasants, cuckoos, buzzards, frogs, dragonflies and more. Brendan sells his eggs, veal sausages and burgers, pork sausages and dry cured ham direct to his local community. He has built his customer base through social media and he loves welcoming visitors, neighbours and customers to his farm. He is passionate about sharing good quality, local produce with his local community.
Brendan Guinan hails from Geashill on the Laois-Offaly border. A few years ago he embarked on a journey of transforming 26 acres of neglected forestry land just outside Portlaoise town into a truly regenerative farm that will stand up to financial, environmental and conventional scrutiny.
He began converting this forestry land into a diverse agro-forestry based system with many enterprises including poultry, pigs, cattle, lumbar and a market garden. He directly sells this produce to customers and through other local businesses.
Brendan uses regenerative agricultural practices, frequently rotating his egg laying hens, pigs and veal calves through the thinned out Sycamore forest, allowing diversity to thrive in the aftermath and building carbon into the soil as well as the remaining trees.
Brendan puts the thinnings to good use, fencing the boundaries with rustic looking post and rail. He has also identified a natural spring where water often lies that he is considering converting into a pond to further aid diversity on his farm.
Brendan is a passionate advocate for regenerative agriculture and welcomes customers to his farm and through his social media accounts he informs people on the merits of the practices he implements.
I think Brendan would make an excellent candidate for farming for nature and I think the system he is implementing is one that needs a lot more attention, one where we can build carbon into the soil and into trees and show that we don't have to have forestry at the expense of agriculture and that land sharing where productive agriculture co-exists with nature as opposed to further compartmentalising an already disconnected system leading to even greater problems down the road.
Nominator: John McHugh, FFN Ambassador