PJ Dooley farms 30 acres in Coole, County Offaly. The organic farm is made up of a small suckler herd, a vegetable garden and forestry. This extensive farming system requires very few external inputs. Guided by permaculture principles, PJ has spent the last number of years incorporating systems and activities to increase biodiversity on the land. “I see nature as having all the answers – if we just follow the patterns of nature and natural systems, rather than working against them.”
6.5 acres of native woodland was planted on the farm in 2015. 8 acres of land has been used for a wild bird cover crop to ensure a food supply for birds and other wildlife during the winter months. There is a pond on the farm which acts as a water/wetland habitat for numerous creatures. Part of the farm is callow land, this wet grassland contains meadowsweet and a rich variety of naturally occurring grasses. Last year, a baseline biodiversity survey was conducted where all the flora and fauna species on the land were recorded. From this they have created a biodiversity action plan which will guide the development of the farm, ensuring wildlife and diversity are protected and promoted, as the farm increases productivity.
PJ has plans to increase plant diversity on the land by sowing multi-species herbal leys, incorporating combi-crops and rewilding areas of the land. He also plans to implement a Holistic Planned Grazing system as a way of regenerating the soil and managing the grassland on the farm. Additionally, PJ is in the process of developing an eco-community on the land. He is passionate about community engagement, open farming and education on topics like sustainable living and regenerative agriculture.
In my opinion PJ. Dooley takes a very holistic approach to Farming for Nature, he strives to engage with community through sharing projects with them on his 38 acre certified organic farm. His aim is to enhance biodiversity, revitalise the rural area and enrich community wellbeing. To give you some examples, PJ has ongoing community projects (1)to use regenerative/organic systems of growing local healthy food, organic veg and fruit;(2) used a consultant to measure the farm baseline biodiversity and create actions for implementing initiatives to build biodiversity; (3) planted 6.5 acre of Native woodland and 0.5 acres of Coppice woodland; (4) implemented an appropriate management strategy for ancient hedgerows on the farm, (5) carried out insect surveys on the farm, (6) he strives to create local green jobs and reduce the community carbon footprint.
Further plans include: (1) create some large ponds, (2) Plant a food forest and agroforestry systems, (3) Carry out beetle surveys, (4) develop Lesson Plans suitable for the Heritage in School project (Heritage Council initiative) (4) further diversify the farming enterprise by introducing chickens and ducks.
Nominator: Sean O Farrell, FFN Ambassador