The story of Kerry farmers Thomas and Claire O’Connor of Manna Organic Farm on how much nature can be supported on 25ac, while also having a productive business, was cited as encouraging at the recent 2019 national farming for nature ambassador awards, sponsored by Bord Bia. They won the public’s choice accolade.

Thomas and Claire manage their mixed organic farm in Gleann na Gealt, Co. Kerry. They produce vegetables; salads; wheatgrass; meat; poultry; and eggs which they sell in their shop in Tralee.

They have 15ac of native Irish woodland and 4ac of permaculture, including fruit trees. They also have an agroforestry area and promote pollinator and biodiversity-friendly habitats, they said.

We truly believe that returning to nature and natural farming systems can only create health and a vibrant environment. It can provide natural, nutrient-dense quality food that can be the cornerstone 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.”

Farmers from across Ireland came together in the Burren to celebrate the 2019 national farming for nature ambassador awards. Now in its second year, the initiative identified 10 outstanding and encouraging examples of how farming can have a positive impact on our biodiversity and climate.


Over the weekend the case studies were shared through short films, panel discussions and an awards ceremony compered by broadcaster Ella McSweeney.

The farmers from across Ireland run beef, sheep and tillage systems from a range of valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows, all with inspiring stories around managing this land in a way that sustains nature and remains productive.

One of the drivers behind the initiative, Dr. Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, said that the stories told by the 10 ambassadors are educational, encouraging and inspirational.

“Their knowledge, passion and eloquence shine through, providing powerful testimony as to how farming and nature can, and must, work in harmony.

The work of these ambassadors demonstrates that simple actions can make a big difference for the well-being of nature and of people and will hopefully inspire other farmers to take some small steps to look after their farm’s wildlife.

“We felt that these farmers are deserving of respect and support through these awards: They embody all that’s great about rural Ireland.”

Project co-ordinator Brigid Barry said that every farmer in Ireland will be able to relate to at least one of the farmers and admire what they have managed to do on their farms.

“Every ambassador had a specially commissioned film made about them so that the public could learn more about farming for nature and choose their favourite story. We had an outstanding response with thousands of votes cast in the last few weeks,” she said.

The national farming for nature awards are supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS); and National Rural Network.

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