Rathcon farm is a diverse farming enterprise comprising of about 280 acres of agriculture and agroforestry, 58 acres of mixed forestry and a fishing lake. Dermot and Jen currently farm Christmas trees, Sheep, Short Rotation Coppice for biomass and tillage. In 1999 they created an 8.5 acre lake from a poorly drained field which had a small stream flowing through it. The intention was to create a fly fishing lake which resembled as natural a setting as possible. A huge amount of planning was put into the layout and the planting of the fishery and 20 years later it is a great success. The fish are thriving with excellent feeding from the many varieties of fly life and abundance of crustacean. The banks are left untouched in most areas and attract many insects, bees and butterflies. There are also a lot of different nesting and migratory birds and mammals present. Many different shrubs and trees have been planted around the lake to help encourage the insect life and other wildlife. Their main commercial crop is Christmas trees. They are grown using as little pesticide as possible. They use an understory of clover and low growing grasses to suppress other more problematic weeds such as cleaver and thistle. The intention is to move away from herbicides completely and minimise the need for synthetic fertiliser through the management of the soil biology. They are currently using natural based foliar feeds and soil inoculants to re-stimulate the soil biology and also exploring biodynamics for issues such as frost protection, bird control and weed control. Since 2001 they have grown short rotation coppice willow for the energy market. This crop is a great habitat provider as it is only disturbed every 3 years and no chemicals are required. The natural vegetation throughout the willow is very varied and encourages many different inhabitants. Their sheep farming enterprise is non intensive. They have a good amount of grazable ground and lately they have experimented with putting them through the Christmas trees which provides some fertiliser and natural weed control. The grazing pastures are old and very lightly fertilised and never sprayed. Inspired by the book “Wilding”, they have left areas around the house, to a wilding project of their own. They have decided not to intervene in these areas in any way and watch how nature evolves in them. Go Greener with Grangecon Jen takes an active part in an environmental initiative which aims to engage the community of Grangecon in reducing its collective ecological footprint. Go Greener with Grangecon is raising awareness about waste minimisation and energy efficiency, and the reduction of water usage, transport emissions and fuel consumption. The group also works closely with the local Tidy Towns to encourage biodiversity, including the planting of native trees throughout the community. For more information about their activities, you can find Go Greener with Grangecon on Facebook.
Nominator: Kim and Mirielle McCall, FFN Ambassadors