Seán Gilligan & Rob Kennedy

Seán Gilligan and Rob Kennedy are friends who run a 10-hectare (24 ac)mixed farm in Strandhill, Co. Sligo. They sell vegetables from their one-acre market garden, eggs from 300 pasture-raised hens and regenerative beef through their popular farm shop. They are consistently selling out, in this, just their fourth season of farming.

They manage 10-12 Belted Galloway cattle using a mob grazing system. However, they acknowledge that the ’animals below the soil are just as important as the ones above it’ to their business.

Soil fertility and closing fertility loops is of vital importance for the pair with cover cropping playing a big role in this, but also in attracting pollinators into the garden which are needed to pollinate many of their best sellers in the garden. Having a lot of organic matter in the soil is very useful for them, as they manage 1300mm rain annually. They are conscious of how healthy soil acts like a sponge, meaning they don’t pass on the water to their neighbours. They don’t engage in schemes or certification as they wanted to prove that a holistic system was economically viable on its own. They have proven this already with both of them, drawing good salaries and they took on an employee last year to keep up with demand.

With their system of grassland management, they’ve noticed how ‘in mid-season the pasture is just buzzing with insects and full of spider webs’. They actively encourage habitat creation through planting native hedges and allowing certain areas to go a bit wild. They see the benefit for nature and their business.

NOMINATOR: Cathal Mooney, Farming for Nature Ambassador
Sean and Rob have established in only a few years a beautiful farm with nature and community at its core. There farm honesty shops is one of the best examples I have seen through the country, they engage in education with young people and all round have such passion for farming and for improving their natural environment, in my opinion they are one of the best examples of farm startups that are farming sustainability, profitably and most importantly happily! I highly recommend FFN consider promoting them so there story can inspire other farmers and want to be farmers. For pics checkout their website Knocknarea Farm

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