Ian McGrigor and Eileen Carroll
I think this farmer deserves national recognition for his/her work in farming for nature because: Since 1991 Ian and Eileen have worked hard to create a beautiful oasis for bioidversity on their organic farm, 5 miles outside of Tralee, where they grow food, have created multiple habitats, host people in their wooden cabins, host educational visits and have many examples of sustainability that could be adapted to other farms.
Food and Seed Saving:
The farm produces food, fruit and herbs in tunnels and outdoors, growing all year round supplying a local organic store. Visitors staying in the cabins also avail of freshly picked food. They grow from seed, much of which they have saved. They are part of the Seed Gaurdian Network with Irish Seed Savers Association. Ducks help control pests in the vegetable garden and produce eggs. Soil fertility has brought the original PH of 4.9 to 6.5. Manure from the farm animals is used in the growing system. Farm design is based on permaculture principles. The farm is a Certified Member of the Organic Trust.
The farm is 9 acres and has been transformed into a biodiversity haven, with habitats which include natural stone walls, embankments, shelter belts, oak/hazel woodlands, forest gardens, ponds, reedbed, willow fences/features/coppices, native tree nursery, wildflower meadows, natural bogland and wild areas.
The farm has diversified over the years, with the building of 3 wooden cabins. These have proved to be very succesful in terms of visitors coming to stay on the farm while in Kerry. The farm also hosts Waldorf students on organic agricultural placement.
The farm hosts educational visits from schools, community groups and the Social Farm scheme. Kerry Earth Education Project (KEEP) was established in 2000 as as an educational initiative. They have been awarded a Green Flag from the EEU of An Taisce as a Green Centre and awarded funding over the years from organistaions such as The Heritage Council and Discover Primary Science to run educational programmes and develop educational signs around the farm. They have an outreach educational service, which involves working with many communities, schools and organisations around Kerry and beyond. KEEP was awarded a Gold Medal at Bloom in the Park for their school organic garden, The Living Classroom. They have also worked with Bord Bia on a primary school organic garden dvd project. KEEP published a book with Irish Seed Savers, The Year Round School Organic Garden.
I came to Gortbrack Organic Farm in 1996 for work experience and was inspired by the work of growing food and growing for nature and wildlife. The farm has inspired a huge number of volunteers and workers from Kerry and all over the world over the past 28 years. In this time of a Climate/Biodiversity Emergency, Gortbrack Organic Farm is a real example of how small-scale diverse farms can demonstrate working with nature, creating resilient farms for food production along with biodiversity, with creative solutions to support sustainable livelihoods into the future.
Nominator: Niamh Ui Dhuill, Self – Employed Growing Biodiversity and Food Educator