Lisa Gifford grew up in the U.S., but her Irish roots brought her back to the land in 2016 and she bought a small farm in County Leitrim - “When I came to Ireland many years ago, the beauty of the place touched a sympathetic cord in my heart and I said to myself maybe someday I will come back. And here I am.” Lisa manages the smallholding with her daughter Gypsy Gifford and daughter-in-law Richelle South. There is a range of stock on the farm including goats, sheep, pigs and chickens. The main commercial aspect of the farm is milking goats and producing farmhouse goats cheese that is sold direct to customers at local farmers markets. Lisa is particularly interested in rare-breed goats such as the Irish Goat. Much of the grassland is diverse in plant, grass and herb species, and the remaining land will be reseeded with a multispecies mix suitable for goats. The pigs were introduced this year, and they are naturally tilling the grassland in need of improvement. External inputs are low and the farm is very extensively managed. There are mature hedgerows around the farm and they are planting trees on the land and in field corners to provide shelter and improve soil structure, as well as creating additional habitat for wildlife. The plan is to retrofit an old farm building and to convert it into a micro dairy, then to increase the herd of goats and the quantity of goats cheese. Lisa takes great pride in the diversity of this farming system, as well as the fresh, natural product created on the farm.
Lisa Gifford, along with her daughter Gypsy Gifford and daughter-in-law Richelle South, maintain a smallholding goat farm and cheesemaking micro-creamery in Drumcong, County Leitrim. In 2016 Lisa started the farm with a small herd of goats and flock of hens. The pastures are planted with a variety of forage, grass and herbs giving diversity in nutrition for the goats as well as supporting soil health. Hedgerows are being replanted with native tree and shrub varieties while Paulownia trees have been introduced to provide sustainable wood supply as well as forage for the goats. In 2022, pigs were introduced to provide slow-tilling of pastures in need of improvement. Following the pigs’ uprooting of mossy pasture areas, native trees and mixed grasses will be planted to improve soil quality and reduce water build-up in those areas. Additionally, an existing farm building has been retrofitted to operate as the Leitrim Hill Creamery cheesemaking facility. The trio make raw milk cheeses following natural cheesemaking principles by creating their own starter culture from the milk of their herd.
Nominator: Noel Kiernan, FFN Ambassador