Two Farming for Nature (FFN) farm walks in Co. Clare and Galway are set to take place this weekend showcasing ambassador farmers and their contribution to nature.
FFN invites people to visit the Muller family farm in Co. Clare this Saturday, May 21, at 11:00a.m, comprising 38.5 ha of wet grassland in the Slieve Aughty Mountains.
The organic farm of Mona and Harry Muller, along with their four children, is situated in a hen harrier Special Protected Area (SPA).
Having recently joined the FFN ambassador network, the Mullers said wetland areas on the farm provide great biodiversity, but the land needs farming in a very sensitive way. They commented:
“We see our farm as an organism where all the different animals and all the different enterprises interlink, support and work with each other.”
An area of native woodland by the river attracts much wildlife to the farm, and the family has worked hard to create a self-sufficient farm that is ecologically and environmentally viable.
External inputs on the farm are extremely low, using draft horses to plough the land instead of machinery, where possible, and fodder crops are grown on the land to provide winter feed for the animals, according to FFN.
Guided by biodynamic principles, the farm includes horses; goats; sheep; cattle; hens; ducks; turkeys; and bees, while meat; eggs; yoghurt; and cheese are sold directly to the local community in a small on-site farm shop.
“The animals play an important role in grazing the natural mountain vegetation and providing fertiliser for soil regeneration,” the Mullers added.
A horticulture enterprise is also part of the farm as well as a heritage orchard with apples; pears; and plums, and the Mulller family grows heritage vegetable seeds for the Irish Seed Savers Association.
Sheep farmer in the Dawros catchment in Connemara, Co. Galway, Tom Keane is to host a farm walk on his land on Sunday, May 22, at 2:00p.m.
Keane farms 160 mountain ewes on high-value peatlands and wet grasslands, which, FFN said, is an excellent example of perfectly intact peatland farmed in a manner that benefits the stock and the land.
Being a participant of the Pearl Mussel EIP [European Innovation Partnership] Project, Keane’s farming system maintained and enhanced large areas of active Atlantic blanket bog.
The sheep farmer said one of the best things about farming in this area is the wild nature, however, he acknowledged that it is not the easiest place to farm.
Knowing nature and recognising the challenges and the rewards of hill farming, Keane ensures that his stock is rotated regularly, while working with nature to get the best from his land.
FFN farmers showcase their contribution to nature and good farming practices on their land, while meeting like-minded people and providing an insight into the ways they protect nature.
Various FFN ambassador farmers are set to host farm walks throughout the year covering a range of farming systems including tillage, dairy, forestry, market gardening, mixed stock and high-nature value farming.
The walks cost €10 per person to attend and all money received will be circulated back into the farming community.