Thomas and Claire O’Connor
It is only 2 years since we met Thomas and Claire O’Connor but we were straight away hugely impressed by their passion and dedication to work within a certain ethos. All is part of a holistic system integrating production of high quality food sold locally, recognition and respect for the biodiversity that helps produce that food, a great sense of locality and community, and a permanent will to share all their knowledge with others.
Thomas was a publican. When he started learning about our food system, climate change and ecological collapse, himself and Claire decided that growing food for themselves and the community was the right thing to do. They sold the pub and bought a run down 25 acre farm in 2007 in the Gleann na nGealt valley near Camp Co. Kerry. After a lot of intensive work they now have a mixed organic farm producing vegetables, salads, wheatgrass, meat, poultry and eggs.
Their plan now is to apply what they have learnt about biological and ecological farming to supply quality, nutritionally rich food for the local community. They sell their produce locally in their shop in Tralee (mannaorganicstore.ie). Thomas and Claire both have been very active in organic community groups that work towards the same goal. These include : Transition Kerry since 2008, founding board member and presently acting as chair (transitionkerry.org), Talamhbeo and Biodynamic Agriculture Association of Ireland. Between himself and Claire, they served 3 terms on the board of IOFGA (now IOW).
They hold open days, farm visits and workshops on their farm and run Transition Farming and Biodiversity education days to help share their knowledge.
On their holding they have done extensive tree planting including fruit trees and biomass and at the same time retaining the ancient trees that were there. There is a lot of pollinator and biodiversity habitat and great attention is given to “our farm’s invisible little helpers”, soil biology. The same dedication and care is applied to the livestock on the farm.
In their own words : We truly believe that returning to nature and natural farming systems can only create health and vibrant environment. It can provide natural nutrient dense quality food and it can be the corner stone for future generations. Organic food and caring for the environment we live in is not just a job for us. It is our life, we live it every day : on the farm, in the shop and at home.
We believe Thomas and Claire would be worthy participants in the Farming For Nature Awards 2019.
Kim and Mireille Mccall.
Nominator: Kim and Mirielle McCall, Farming For Nature Ambassador, 2019