Olly started his 8.5 acre smallholding in August 2012 with his partner Chris and since then have been developing it into an ecologically run self sufficient farm with nature and wildlife in mind. They have planted over 1,000 native hedging and trees. They converted a disused sand arena into an organic vegetable garden, planted an orchard with mainly traditional fruit trees and keep rare breed animals from their small herd of Irish Dexters to a couple of rare breed pigs for the freezer. They have also leased a number of lands in the area.
There are no chemicals, fertilisers or herbicides used at all, nature helps keep a balance for example encouraging beneficial insects such as ladybirds keep greenfly at bay. Although not organically certified it is run organically, recycling everything and producing their own compost and mulches.
The house is currently being renovated to be as close to passive standards as possible for a renovation incorporating a heat pump, heat recovery and array of PV solar panels.
Olly keeps a large number of beehives around Dublin/ Wicklow mountains. Pollinating the heather on Wicklow Mountains National Park. This is how I met Olly when he approached me for permission to put his hives on the National park a few years ago. I have been fascinated by his knowledge and love for nature and it refreshing to meet someone work in harmony with nature. He recently won Gold and Best Food Producer in Dublin at the 2017 Blas na hEireann awards and 2 Gold Stars at the Great Taste Awards in the UK for his highly acclaimed raw honeys. His honey is in the Super Value food academy. He has just built a new state of the art honey house that when finished will be completely powered by solar panels. They plan on harvesting rain water from all the building to use in the veg garden and water the animals so not to take too much ground water from their well.
They make their own hay or silage but never cut before the beginning of July to allow nesting bird a chance to rear their young. There are bird and bat boxes in the trees and an owl box to try and encourage a breeding pair of barn owls to move in.
As a smallholder, Olly shares lots of info about what they are doing on the smallholding on social media, through his blog and talks at events such as A Taste of Cavan along other food festivals around the country. His has a devote following of customers visiting the farm to buy honey, fruit, veg, eggs and beef and he always enjoys the showing the visitors the farm, the animals and the bees. He is a true believer in farming for nature and sustainability.
Nominator: John Griffin, Ranger, NPWS