Donie Anderson’s family have farmed in the Glenasmole Valley in the Dublin uplands for generations, and along with his wife and daughter, he continues this tradition today. Donie is passionate about keeping traditional farming skills alive so that they can be passed to the next generation. He believes that these methods are more nature friendly than modern approaches and the abundance of wildlife found on his farm is testament to this. He has a wonderful respect for nature and enjoys promoting this with all he meets.
Donie’s flock of over 100 hill sheep graze the upper reaches of the valley, these are commonage lands and lie within the Wicklow Mountains National Park. The land is comprised of upland grassland and dry heath and designated as SAC and SPA due to presence of rare flora and fauna. He has a deep rooted connection with the land and takes his role as their custodian very seriously. He spends time actively shepherding his flock throughout the commonage to ensure that no area is under grazing pressure.
Healthy hedgerows flourishing with birdlife surround his fields, he very conscious of the importance of hedgerows for wildlife. He also leaves meadow aside for birds to nest. A beekeeper keeps a number of hives at his farm. Donie is concerned about the decline farmland birds and pollinators, and delights to see thriving bird life and the honeybees at work. It is with pride that he will say that, these bees produce honey for longer periods than in other locations, as they have plenty of food at his farm. The river Dodder flows by and adds to the rich biodiversity.
Donie is a passionate advocate for managing upland habitats through hill farming and thanks to his efforts traditional hill sheep farming and sheepdog training was added to National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2019. He is very active in his local community and supports all their activities including participating the PURE Mile competition, an environmental project which encourages local communities to adopt an area, keep it litter free and promote it offerings. He is a member of South Dublin County Council’s Environmental SPC, a long standing member of Wicklow Uplands Council and an active member of an array of other organisations and committees.
Donie has become well known for his demonstrations of duck and geese herding with his faithful sheepdog Jess. Recently he has led a number of walks in the Glenasmole valley and fascinated people by sharing stories of the rich local heritage associated with the area. As he speaks about his own farming practices, his quiet but determined respect for nature shines through to captivated audiences. He shares post of his farming activities on social media to his many followers and gives them an insight into his farming practices. However, Donie is very modest and doesn’t boast about his efforts or achievements. He has a remarkable man with great respect for nature and a willingness to share his knowledge with all those who are interested.
Nominator: Pat Dunne, FFN Ambassador and SUAS Project Lead