Marc Sagarzazu & Brid og Norrby

Marc Sagarzazu and Bríd Óg Norrby farm 35 acres in north county Kildare. They farm 135 breeding ewes, producing spring lambs that graze the low-input permanent pasture. External inputs on the farm are kept to a minimum. The land has been in Bríds family for 3 generations and there are numerous pockets around the farm with mature native woodland. The pair have always farmed with nature and biodiversity in their minds. They recently planted 250 native trees on the land. Hedgerows on the farm are not cut unless absolutely necessary, and they have incorporated additional native hedgerows around the land. Marc made bird, bat and bee boxes and put them up around the farm.

For years there has been foxes, grey squirrel, moorhens, bats, hedgehogs and numerous songbirds on the land. However, the family have noticed a significant increase in new wildlife on the farm in recent years – “There are species on the farm now that weren’t around here when I was a young girl.” There is a pair of breeding long eared owls on the farm for the past 6 years, they have successfully reared 3 chicks per year. Other recent farm visitors include ravens, buzzards, mallard ducks and herons.

Marc and Bríd are involved in the Social Farming project and enjoy welcoming people from various farming groups out to the farm, showing and explaining how they manage their farm and conserve nature on the land. Looking to the future, they consider implementing an agroforestry system on the farm – making the most of what they have in terms of productivity and biodiversity.

Nomination Description:
Marc and Bríd óg have been farming 36 acres in North West Kildare for the past 17 years. Marc is originally from Barcelona and Brid og has lived most of her life on the farm.The farm has been in the same family for three generations. It has a good selection of mature trees in small woodland areas dotted around the farm. It also borders the bog of Allen and a Special Area of Conservation.
Marc does most of the farming and runs 130 lowland ewes , producing Spring lamb. He also has a keen interest in sheep dog training.

Bríd og always had a love for the environment, especially native trees. She is involved with the local Parish Eco group, which aims to enhance biodiversity in the area and take community actions towards sustainability.

As part of the REPs scheme some years ago the couple coppiced and rejuvenated a hedgerow. They also planted wild cherry, spindle, guelder rose and hazel into the hedge. This really opened their eyes to the huge benefits there is to wildlife by planting native species .

As part of the Glas scheme they planted a grove of 250 native trees - Birch, Hazel, Wild Cherry and Scots Pine. Marc made and put up 45 bird, bat and bee boxes around the farm.
On the farm they have always tried to keep their use of chemical fertilizer to a minimum, utilizing farm manure as the main fertilizer. Under Glas they have 5 hectares in low input permanent pasture.

On the farm there has always been foxes, grey squirrels, moorhens, pipistrelle bats, hedgehogs and plenty of song birds.
There is an old organic orchard on the farm with many heritage varieties of apple. Field Fares come here every Winter to eat the left over fruit. There is also a large badger set in one of the fields.

In recent years the couple have noted a definite increase in new species on the farm. There is a watercourse going through one field that flows into the Slate River. An Otter was spotted there a couple of years ago and now Mallard duck and a Herons can be seen there occasionally.
For the past 5 years long Eared owls have been nesting about 20 meters from the farmhouse. They have successfully reared 3 chicks a year. A family of Ravens have also taken up residence on a Pine tree close to the house. Buzzards are now a common sight and a Pine Martin has also been observed.
A cuckoo from the bog visited the farm last summer for the first time in living memory.

For the past 2 years Marc has been hosting Social Farming on a weekly basis. Participants experience and learn about hands on farming skills. Organic vegetable gardening and woodland management have been an important part of this experience. One of the participants is very passionate about wild flowers and sowed a small area of wild bird cover.
Nominator: Stephen Morrison, FFN Ambassador

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