FARMING FOR NATURE AMBASSADOR 2019
Gerard is a part-time farmer who runs a 22ha farm near Moycullen, Co. Galway. He manages that farm with the help of pedigree Belted Galloway cattle and is a enthusiastic believer and promoter of High Nature Value farming and farms with wildlife primarily in mind. The farm consists of a diverse selection of semi-natural habitats including dry and wet meadows, hill area and naturally regenerated woodland which are all sympathetically conserved by means of a low stocking rate. He's been lucky to record Marsh Fritillary (Annex 2 species in the Habitat Regs) and Small White Orchid which is listed in the Flora (Protection) Order, 2015 on his farm to date.
Nominator 1: Dermot Breen, Conservation Ranger NPWS
Gerard farms Belted Galloways outside of Moycullen. He is very active on social media @Beltie1 on Twitter and @Kylebroughlaun.Belties on Facebook. He is a vocal and well-informed advocate for High Nature Value farming in general while also giving a voice to farmers who farm these important areas for nature. His love of the land and of his belties is very obvious to those who interact with him.
Nominator 2: Caroline Sullivan, Ecologist
Gerard is a part time farmer with 35ha of mixed marginal land consisting of dry and wet meadows, mountain and naturally regenerated scrub and woodland. It has never been reseeded and contained a very mixed sward dependent and consistent with the underlying soil & rock type. He keeps about 12 pedigree Belted Galloway cows. Females were sourced from this island’s oldest herd in Antrim, as well in Kerry, Scotland & England. He sells the heifers for breeding, and males as both store bullocks & sometimes bulls. His family have farmed here since the early 19th century. He took over the family farm in 2011 from his aunt. Gerard decided to move to Belted Galloways as he was looking for something easier kept and from research he identified these as an ideal breed. He says Belties as he calls them, are able to cope with the rough and wet terrain and can be out wintered. They readily eat the coarse grasses such as rushes and purple moor grass allowing the floral diversity to thrive. Through farming he developed an appreciation of nature and describes his practice as what’s now called High Nature Value Farming and draw on likes of the Burren Trust model and Sligo/Galway Institutes of technology ecology sections for inspiration. He’s been interested in birds all his life but and is also very familiar and knowledgeable with and about the butterflies, flowers and all of nature on the farm. Some highlights last summer on the farm were his first Marsh Fritillary butterflies and also Small white Orchid. The hay fields have a rich diversity also. The farm woodlands at this time of year have flowers like Early purple Orchid, Wood Sorrell, Pignut, Wild Garlic, Primrose and Dog violets blooming. Common larger mammals include Irish Hare, Rabbit, Badger, Fox as well as more elusive Stoat, Pine martin and Otter on the lake shore. Gerard is a founding member & current chair of the Belted Galloway Club of Ireland. He is active at show casing the breed at shows and also at looking to develop premium markets for Galloway beef. He uses social media platforms of twitter ( @beltie1 – Kylebroughlaun Farmhttps://twitter.com/beltie1?lang=en ) and Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/Kylebroughlaun.Belties/ ) to discuss, engage and promote nature in farming as well as the Belted Galloway breed in Conservation grazing etc. He has had pieces published in the Farmers Journal (https://www.farmersjournal.ie/my-farming-week-gerard-walshe-moycullen-co-galway-305871 ) & Irish Wildlife Trust magazine which highlight both High Nature Value Farming & the Belted Galloway breed. He believes his communication & engagement in this regard helps promote and develop the agenda and benefits of nature in farming. Gerard hopes to see more indicators of nature thriving on the farm by the identification of even greater variety of species each year while enjoying keeping a breed of cattle evolved to thrive and produce very tasty beef in these high nature value habitats and that over time special markets will develop for this beef. Gerard would be a worthy award winner.
Nominator 3: Mark McNally, Moycullen Heritage Group