Rob O Foghlú
Rob Ó Foghlú and his partner Ciara bought 12.5 acres of land in 2017 and established Gortnacrusha Biodiversity Farm. The farm is a mix of permanent pasture and a steep glen which runs down to a stream. The pair have been gradually building the farm and doing so in a way that works with the natural landscape of the site as well as its existing habitats. They started by planting 5000 trees on the land, a variety of native and non-native trees which act as a shelter belt as well as creating additional habitat and improving soil structure. They also planted 400 meters of native hedgerows on the farm. They then planted 3 orchards on the land, with apple, damson and cobnut trees, each about 1/3 of an acre. The next project was the planting of 1 acre of inoculated truffle trees (pine and hazel) in the hope that these will produce an annual truffe harvest in the future. Finally, in 2020, Rob and Ciara started their market garden business. There are 2 commercial polytunnels and an outdoor growing area on the farm. They produce a wide variety of vegetables including salad leaves, tomatoes, peppers, chillies, aubergine, courgette and much more. The fresh produce is sold direct to restaurants, cafes and shops in the local area. They also have an apiary on the land and sell honey. The old meadow, which is a unique habitat in this part of the country, is managed purely for biodiversity and contains an impressive variety of plant and grass species including the wild orchid. It is a haven for insects and birds in the summer months.
Enhancement of biodiversity has been the node stone from which all decisions have been made at Rob Ó Foghlús farm Gortnacrusha Biodiversity Farm near Ballinspittle. On discovering that traditional meadow was the most threatened habitat in Ireland and identifying orchids growing in his, he has set aside 1 1/2 acres purely as meadow which is grazed once a year to prevent it reverting to woodland. He also has planted about 4 acres of native Irish trees (about 5000) to address the dearth of native woodland in the parish and create habitat. He has also planted 4 new lengths of native tree hedgerow and enhanced existing boundaries to fill gaps. All his horticulture activities are informed by a regenerative model with great attention spent on promoting soil health and bacterial and mycelium activity. He annually takes students from the Kinsale College Horticulture Course to demonstrate regenerative horticultural approach.
Nominator: Thomas Riedmuller, Coordinator, The Hollies
Rob & Ciara are working hard to transport 12 acres of monoculture modern agriculture green desert in a nature friendly farm and its in the name really Gortnacrusha Biodiversity Farm. Every decision is with nature in mind while trailing various novel approaches to make an economic return such as mushroom inoculated trees for gourmet mushroom cultivation. Its a mixed farm with 4000 native trees planted, nut and fruit orchards and a market garden and lots of wildflowers.
Nominator: Donal Chambers, Permaculture College, Kinsale