Olly Nolan

Olly started his 8.5 acre smallholding in August 2012 and since then has been developing it into an
ecologically run self-sufficient farm with nature and wildlife in mind. He has planted over 1,600
native hedging and trees. Has converted a disused sand arena into an organic vegetable garden,
planted an orchard with over 60 fruit trees, 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.

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 his own compost and mulches.
The house is still 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, currently around 280, around South Dublin and North
Wicklow from Lucan village down to the Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry. At the end of July Olly
moves many beehives up to pollinate 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 has recently won Gold and Best Food Producer in Dublin at the
2017 Blas na hEireann awards and multiple 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 finished
building a new state of the art honey house and all going well will be completely powered by solar
panels in 2024. Olly is harvesting rain water from the building to use in the veg garden and water the
animals so not to take too much ground water from their well. When the house is finished, all the
rain water will be diverted to a large pond that has yet to be build to increase the diversity of wildlife
on the farm.

He makes their own hay or silage depending on the year but never cuts before the beginning of July
to allow nesting birds 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. Olly has seen barn owls on
several occasions but so far none have taken up residence in the box.

In recent years he’s become a strong supporter of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, spreading the word
of how important all our 100 species of pollinator are not just the honeybee. His business Olly’s Farm
is a proud business supporter of the pollinator plan.

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


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