Farming for Nature (FFN) ambassador Gerard Deegan will host a farm walk this weekend on his organic mixed-beef and forestry enterprise in Co. Westmeath.
Gerard has been farming organically for over 20 years, and transitioned from what had originally been a dairy farm to a mixed-beef and forestry enterprise ten years ago.
The farm walk will take place this Saturday (July 30) at 2:00p.m on Gerard’s farm outside of Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
While forestry is the main part of his enterprise, Gerard, who won the RDS Farm Forestry Award in 2019, also manages a small suckler herd producing organic beef.
He also produces organic honey, while understanding and valuing the importance of every living creature on his land – from the microscopic soil fungi to the cattle, and from the bees to the oak trees.
The FFN ambassador said:
“The bees are a lesson in life. They have taught me a lot about nature. How we are all connected, and how everyone has a role to play, no matter how big or small that role may be.”
Advocating for diverse forestry systems, Gerard has now 100ac of forestry on his land comprising 50% hardwood and 50% softwood, and practices continuous cover forestry (CCF).
CCF is a forest management approach to retain a forest cover at all times. It often relies on harnessing natural forest processes such as natural regeneration of trees, mixed species and increased biodiversity, according to Teagasc.
Gerard also incorporated wildlife strips between rows of approximately 60 different tree species on his farm, including Norway spruce; scots pine; larch; douglas fir; ash; oak; sycamore; and beech.
The ambassador is also involved in social farming, which includes rehabilitating people with special needs through the environment he has created on the farm, FFN said.
FFN has planned several farm walks throughout this year, highlighting farmers’ contribution to nature and good farming practices on their land.
Farm walks are €10 to attend, however, as a not-for-profit initiative, all proceeds will be circulated back into the farming community.