Mark and Alison Hurst
FARMING FOR NATURE AMBASSADOR 2019
Mark and Alison Hurst run the 70-acre Featherfield farm with their farm manager, Julian Laitenberger in Lullymore, Co.Kildare. The farm is very diverse with enterprises such as beef production with Dexter cattle, a small sheep enterprise, a poultry layer and as well as a collection of rare breed poultry. There is also a small vegetable and fruit growing as well as a beekeeping enterprise. They sell direct to customer and have an education centre as they are keen to encourage others to grow and produce food in a sustainable manner. “We are just visitors on this land, and strive to leave it better than we found it for nature…whilst making an income”
I have visited Featherfield Farm on numerous occasions, both as an organic inspector and later as a lecturer for their weekend courses (organic gardening, beekeeping etc). In my opinion this is the most impressive farm in terms of farming for biodiversity as well as running a profitable farm.
Walking through the fields I found at least 20 species of grasses and wildflowers and the hedgerows are small strips of woodland often measuring ten meters where birds and insects thrive.
The farm is very diverse in itself with diverse enterprises such as beef production from rare breed Dexter cattle, a small sheep enterprise, a poultry layer and broiler enterprise as well as a collection of rare breed poultry. There is also a small vegetable and fruit growing enterprise as well as a beekeeping enterprise. More farming enterprises are on the horizon to further diversify the holding.
When Mark and Alison Hurst started the farm they first planted thousands of native woodland areas, planted hedgerows, dug large ponds – all with the aim to encourage wildlife and in its truest sense – Farming with Nature.
It is very obvious that nature and biodiversity comes first on Featherfield Farm. Mark and Alison realise that all aspects of the farm are interrelated and this includes all farm enterprises as well as nature around. They recently had an insect survey done at the farm and Mark proudly told me how insect population massively increased since they started farming.
Nominator: Klaus Laitenberger, Organic Agriculture and Horticulture Inspector, The Organic Trust CLG