Mona and Harry Muller, along with their four children, farm 38.5 hectares of wet grassland in the Slieve Aughty Mountains in Co.Clare. The family farm is situated in a Hen Harrier Special Protected Area and they are members of the Hen Harrier programme since 2018. “The areas of wetland on the farm provide great biodiversity, but the land needs farming in a very sensitive way.”
The farm is certified organic and guided by biodynamic principles. On the farm there are horses, goats, sheep, cattle, hens, ducks, turkeys and bees. The animals play an important role in grazing the natural mountain vegetation and providing fertilizer for soil regeneration. Meat, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese is sold direct to the local community via a small on-site farm shop. There is a horticulture enterprise on the farm as well - organic vegetables are sold direct to local customers and the Mullers grow heritage vegetable seeds for Irish Seed Savers. There is a heritage orchard on the farm with apples, pears and plums.
External inputs on the farm are extremely low. Fodder crops and cereals are grown on the land to provide winter feed for the animals. The Mullers use draft horses to plough the land in place of machinery where possible. There is an area of native woodland by the river that attracts much wildlife to the farm. The family have worked hard to create a self-sufficient farm that is ecologically and economically viable. “We see our farm as an organism. Where all the different animals and all the different enterprises interlink and support each other and work with each other.”
Mona and Harry Muller and their daughter Alanna farm Glendree Organic Farm in County Clare. The farm is in the Slieve Aughty Mountains breeding Hen Harrier Special Protection Area (SPA). They practice biodynamic farming on their 32 ha of wet grassland in the southern part of the SPA. The whole family play a role in making the farm work for them, the local community and the local landscape. Mona says that they look on the farm as a whole body with different parts that need to work in harmony with each other to get results. They have small-scale horticulture, tillage, hives, seed production, lamb and beef production (everything with an emphasis on heritage varieties and breeds), goats and are thinking about adding microdairying to the mix! They sell their produce from the farm gate and through local networks providing quality products to the local community. They joined the Hen Harrier Programme in 2018 and the Project Team have been on site to see the lovely species-rich grasslands and high quality wet grasslands that they farm. You can see some of the Muller’s fields in our Grassland Management and Habitat training videos. The meadows are full of wildflowers that provide biodiverse fodder for their animals and pollen for local pollinators. These in turn provide food for small birds and mammals which provide an important prey base for the Hen Harrier. The Muller family have a great appreciation for what the landscape they live in provides for them and in return they work with the land to farm in a sustainable way while retaining the local heritage that surrounds them.
Nominator: Caroline Sullivan, Assistant Manager, Hen Harrier Project