Justina & Liam Gavin
Liam and Justina Gavin run Drumanilra Organic Farm on the shores of Lough Key, Co. Roscommon. When the couple took over the family farm back in 2012, they had two ambitions; “We wanted to feed our family with wholesome food grown by our own hands. We also wanted to generate a sustainable and independent income for the farm by supplying produce directly to customers.”
Liam and Justina manage a 300-acre mixed livestock and horticulture farm. They farm a pedigree herd of Irish Dexter cattle, a flock of Jacob sheep, out-door reared pigs and a flock of laying hens. The organic animal produce is processed locally and sold direct to their customers via their farm shop/cafe or through a box-scheme. The market garden produces organic salads and vegetables which are also sold direct to local customers.
Most of the land is in permanent pasture and they are experimenting with multi-species herbal leys to help regenerate soil and provide nutritionally dense food for the animals. On the farm they have implemented a Holistic Planned Grazing system meaning the animals are moved to fresh pasture daily. During the winter months, some of the animals are housed in dry-bay sheds and the farmyard manure generated is spread as organic fertilizer on the land.
There are pockets of mature broadleaf forestry around the farm, as well nature corridors and diverse hedgerows that are managed for biodiversity. Given its proximity to the lake, this wetland habitat attracts lots of water birds to the land. Other wildlife seen on the farm includes deer, red squirrel, badgers, pine marten, rabbits and hares, as well as birds of prey like buzzards and kestrels. The Gavin family, along with their team, have created a diverse productive farm that operates with care and consideration for the natural landscape and ecology of the land.
The Gavin family moved their young family back from the UK in 2012, to take over Liam’s 200 year old family farm. They came with two ambitions, to feed their family with wholesome food grown by themselves and to try and generate a sustainable and independent income for the farm by supplying organic produce directly to customers.
Their stated mission is to ‘reconnect people with local, organic, wholesome, sustainable food, rooted in place and assured provenance, grown by us and other like-minded producers’ and to ‘help to put food and farming back at the heart of a thriving, local, rural economy by creating jobs, attracting tourism revenue and promoting local food and producers.’
Whilst the farm is busy and productive, the Gavins have ensured that they farm in a balanced way and that they have a low impact on the wildlife that live and breed on the farm land and surrounding lake. They chose to farm organically and use regenerative farming techniques and to specialise in rare/native Irish breeds (believing these breeds are best suited to the Irish landscape and environment). They are truly passionate about preserving Ireland’s rich farming heritage and investing in the local community.
They keep a pedigree herd of Irish Dexter cattle, raise rare-breed Jacob sheep, and finish small batches of out-door reared, organic pigs. They also keep a flock of laying hens for organic eggs and cultivate four polytunnels and an outdoor market garden for organic salads and vegetables for direct sales and use in their own farm outlets which will soon to be opening/reopening in the North West (Carrick on Shannon, Boyle, Strandhill (Sligo)).
It is wonderful to see how the Gavins have embraced a whole farm ethos which to them means working in harmony with nature and the environment. Essentially they are developing a local regenerative business that is guided by concern for people, animals and the planet.
And we love their double Dexter burgers with cheese!
Nominator: Andrew Chilton, Organic Farm Advisor and Trainer, Clerragh Farm Services