The Horse’s Mouth Mentorship
A farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing project
Applications open in March 2024
We hope to open up the application form in March 2024. Just pop us an email on [email protected] and we will let you know when the call for applicants is open
Here at Farming For Nature (FFN) we often get queries from farmers and landowners who are seeking on-site advice about how to enhance the biodiversity of their land but aren’t quite sure how best to proceed. Some have asked for a fellow farmer to visit and provide practical tips. In response to this, we are offering a farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing service to help people decide on what actions could be undertaken to improve the environmental condition of a site and how to do them. This will be opened shortly.
Whether you are just starting the journey to include more nature on your farm, maybe you have recently inherited/bought a farm, or you want to change a farming system, or you already have lots of nature but want advice on what more you can to do, no matter how far you are along the journey of increasing biodiversity on your farm, this project for all farmers and landowners looking for on-the-ground practical advice from fellow farmers on how to include more nature on their farms but remain productive. It will involve an informal walk on the farm and a farmer to farmer chat to share simple, practical advice and encouragement. These farmers are not ecologists but are fellow farmers that are working day in, day out in situations that have a abundance of wildlife and plant life without impacting their farming systems.
How to get involved
- Please ensure that you are happy with what is expected of you as the host farmer (see below) and wish to proceed with the application process.
- Complete the application form : This IS CURRENTLY CLOSED BUT WILL REOPEN IN 2024. Email us if you wish to be included on the interested parties list.
- The application for this has to be done through the above online link to be consider. This should take between 30-60 mins to fill out depending on the detail you wish to give.
- Just so you know, questions include:
- Location, extent (ha) of land holding/parcel
- Background to ownership
- Description of land
- Description of Farm Management System
- What would you like to do here and why – what’s your main motivation?
- What’s your bottom line
- What’s your timeframe
- Is there any other relevant information you’d like to share with us?
- Do you have a preferred Ambassador you would like to work with?
- We will be shortlisting up to 50 application for this year’s scheme depending on the interest and capacity. To ensure your application is given serious consideration, please complete the application to the best of your knowledge.
- We will let you know within a few weeks if you have been shortlisted for a peer-to-peer visit.
ONLINE APPLICATION FORM currently not open
What is expected of the host farmer:
- If shortlisted, we will ‘match’ you with a FFN mentor, chosen from our national network of Ambassadors. You will be asked to make yourself familiar with this FFN Mentor by looking at their online profile and watching/listening to any videos/podcasts they have. These links will be sent to you beforehand.
- You and the FFN Mentor will arrange a date to walk the farm along a route decided by you beforehand – it should include all the potential habitats and areas that you hope to improve (ie hedgerows, watercourses, woodlands, crops etc).
- We encourage you to take notes during this visit.
- The visit should last no more than 3-4 hours and should focus on the habitats present and how you might be improved for nature through simple changes in management.
- Following the visit, a short list of recommendations will be drawn up by the FFN Mentor and sent along with any other useful resources to you by FFN within a month.
- You would need to fill out a short feedback form to help us develop this programme going forward.
- IMPORTANT: We would ask that the Mentor’s goodwill and time is respected with any further engagement post-visit to be done through FFN.
Cost to you
- You must pay the visiting Ambassador €50 on arrival. We will pay the remaining balance to the Ambassador for their time.
This is a list of FFN Ambassadors who are willing to act as Mentors for this pilot project. In your application form, you will have the option to request a specific mentor (ideally one that is close by) otherwise we will suggest a suitable mentor based on what we consider to be the best match. Not all selections can be guaranteed.
Andrew Bergin, Tillage, Co. Kildare. See profile here.
Colm Flynn, Cereals & Beef, Co.Kildare. See profile here.
Donna Mullen, Mixed stock, Co. Louth. See profile here.
James Ham, Beef & hedges, Co. Westmeath. See profile here.
Kate Egan, Horticulture, Co. Westmeath. See profile here.
Kim McCall, Beef, Co. Kildare. See profile here.
Nicholas Redmond, Mixed stock, Co. Wexford. See profile here.
Noel Kiernan, Forestry, Co. Longford. See profile here.
Norman Dunne, Tillage, Co. Kildare. See profile here.
Suzanna Crampton, Sheep, Co. Kilkenny. See profile here.
Gearoid Maher, Dairy, Co. Limerick. See profile here.
Joe Condon, Beef, Co. Tipperary. See profile here.
Maurice Deasy, Cereals & sheep, Co. Tipperary. See profile here.
Michael Hickey, Beef, Co. Tipperary. See profile here.
Mona Muller, Mixed stock, Co. Clare. See profile here.
Sean Condon, Dairy farmer, Co. Limerick. See profile here.
Sean O Farrell, Mixed Farm, Co. Tipperary. See profile here.
Thomas Fouhy, Tillage, Co. Cork. See profile here.
Thomas O Connor, Horticulture & Permaculture, Co. Kerry. See profile here.
Boyd Bryce, Sheep, Co. Donegal. See profile here.
Cathal Mooney, Mixed farm, Co. Donegal. See profile here.
Henry O’Donnell, Beef & sheep, Co. Donegal. See profile here.
Pat McKenna, Beef, Co. Monaghan. See profile here.
Feedback from previous participants
” It was a fascinating and stimulating visit. I immediately found myself looking at our own farm with fresh eyes and full of new ideas. I think the two of us could have stayed chatting for hours! Farming can be a very solitary pursuit, and it is important that we, as farmers, periodically bring in outside perspectives and support(s).
Farming For Nature Ambassadors demonstrate that environmental protection/enhancement and profitability do not have to be mutually exclusive. I think that this is an important aspect in attracting a great number of farmers towards farming alongside nature, especially younger generations of farmers. I think that there is often a misconception in agriculture that it is one or the other. ” Michael Doherty, Farmer, Co. Sligo. Participant 2022.
“It was a great visit. Our mentor was like a walking encyclopaedia. I have never had anyone come to visit the farm and give new ideas before. It was an enlightenment. Also, things that are actually there that I had completely taken for granted.”
Niamh Doddy, Farmer, Co. Sligo. Participant 2022.
“Our mentor was forensic in his approach. He had a breath of knowledge and a keen interest in farming for nature. Any farmer would be lucky to have his help and support. To have a farmer out to give you advice, to have boots on the ground. This type of peer to peer help is invaluable”
Conor O’ Riordan, Beef Farmer, Co. Cork. Participant 2023.
‘It was a hugely motivating and worthwhile exercise for me. I am so glad to have these sorts of resources available to me, it makes me very optimistic for the future of farming in this country” Conor McAuley, Horticulturalist, Co. Cork. Participant 2023
“I think it’s a fantastic project and the more people that learn of it and take part in it the better for the future of farming in Ireland.” David Russell, Dairy farmer, Co.Tipperary, Participant 2023.