Fergal Anderson & Emanuela Russo
Fergal Anderson & Emanuela Russo run a market garden in Loughrea county Galway. The farm is comprised of 30 acres in total, 25 of which is mixed forestry. The remaining 5 acres are used to produce a vast range of agroecologically produced vegetables and fruits, including but not limited to, beets, chard, kale, radish, blackcurrants, gooseberries, loganberries, apples, plums, pears and a range of medicinal herbs. They sell their produce direct to customers and supply restaurants in Galway.
Fergal and Emanuela have been working on the land for 8 years – gradually building the soil and transforming the land into a productive farm that is economically and ecologically sustainable. Bees are kept on the farm and they plan to reintroduce chickens and include them in their vegetable rotation system. They use a diverse range of green manures on the farm to increase the fertility of the soil as well as enhancing the soil biology and structure. They grow summer green manure crops to provide food for insects.
The farm is full of biodiversity – there is a stream in the woodland which has crayfish and otter in it. There are two small ponds on the farm with frogs and newts. There are red squirrel and pine marten, foxes, hares, bats and sparrowhawks. They have planted ‘natural edges’ around the land with hazel, hawthorn and other native trees. They leave ‘wild spaces’ around as much of the land as possible to further increase biodiversity on the farm.
Fergal and Emanuela are passionate about small-scale biological farming and food sovereignty.
Fergal and his partner Manu run a 5 acre market garden with mature woodland also. They have a very tiny setup and we’re one of the first csa’s in the country. They use lots of cover crops in the market garden and have quite a mix of fruit trees. They are a shining example of what small scale horticulture can look like. They have a lot of woodland around there garden which makes a wildlife haven and again an example of how production can fit in along with nature. In his own words: "We have about 30 acres of land here in East Galway, 25 acres of which was planted with a mix of native and non-native trees about 30 years ago now. There were two fields left of about 5 acres total which were rented for hay to a local farmer most years. My parents weren't farmers themselves.
Myself and my partner Emanuela Russo moved back to Ireland in 2011 and took over the two fields and began to set up some vegetable and fruit growing on a small scale for local markets. We have built up the farm over the years and are now moving towards managing the woodland. We use a lot of green manures in small scale intensive veg production, and try and leave as much space for nature (pollinator friendly beds between crops, green manure and bee meadow areas etc)as possible. We are planning to move towards managing the entire 25 acres of woodland for biodiversity enhancement and as a habitat. We're not part of any government scheme and have never gotten a single farm payment or a Glás payment or anything like that. The woodland was planted by my folks with a small one off grant but nothing else no headage or anything.
We've sold to local markets and had a CSA for a few years but have been selling primarily to Enda McEvoy from Loam and Eán Bakery in Galway in the last few years which meant 2020 wasn't a great year at all, and it looks like we might need to rethink what we do in 2021. I have been very busy building a house since last August (I'm still busy with that now) We normally organise meitheals or group work days to get the big jobs done. Less of that in 2020 too obviously which has been a real shame."
Nominator: Fergal Smith, FFN Ambassador