FARMING FOR NATURE AMBASSADOR 2019
Kate runs a 9-acre chemical free farm dedicated to biodiversity and permaculture in Ballymore, Co. Westmeath. The farm is a good example of which can be achieved in a short amount of time, both in terms of habitat building and yield production. Kate is currently on hiatus from vegetable production as she explores some new growing methods and agritourism opportunities. Normally Kate’s products include vegetables, fruits, and eggs are sold at a local market, helping to reduce food miles and support the local economy. She is a building up a farm that is climate resilient and incorporates wildlife into all parts of the farm. “the farms first priority is offering a sanctuary, providing an oasis for wildlife, investing on the ecosystem services this can provide over time”. While the farm is on a break from commercial food production, workshops, camping and community events are available.
Kate’s farm contains part of an esker ridge, old hedgerows including old ash trees, and grassland. Just on the esker is part of an old woodland, comprising crab apple, wild rose, gorse, wild cherry, honeysuckle with lichens and moss growing just about everywhere. In the spring this area is full of primroses, and later there are lots of cowslips. Kate’s love for wildlife extends to the bats she and her family share their home with. It’s a maternity roost of several hundred soprano pipistrelles and a smaller roost of common pipistrelles so the bats are there from April onwards. Each year they welcome the bats back. Kate always farms with nature in mind. Since she began farming here, she has planted hundreds of native trees, and has recently started digging a pond. The grassy lawn around her house is managed as wildflower meadow areas and she has planted lots of pollinator friendly flowers. She has also planted a forest garden, using the principles of permaculture to more sustainably manage food production. She uses no chemicals on her farm, and grows vegetables, fruits, flowers and manages hens, ducks, geese to sell at a local market. She also collected seeds from the pollinator friendly flowers she sowed which she has shared with others. She also has connected with social care farming, and other socially responsible, ethical, environmentally kind farmers and was recently part of an exhibition showcasing nature kind farmers in themidwest region. She also uses the farm to share her passion for the environment with farm visitors. Schoolchildren visit the farm to learn about how she farms sustainably. She also uses facebook to share her love for nature. In everything that she does, she applies ethical and sustainable principles.
Nominator: Caitriona Carlin, Ecologist, NUIG