Mayo family takes home Farming for Nature award

A Co. Mayo family has won the first-ever National Farming for Nature award, a prize given to farmers for environmentally-friendly farming.

The Calvey family, from Achill Island, farms a herd of 150 Blackface Mountain sheep, as well as running the only abattoir on Achill Island.

Martin Calvey, as well as being a master butcher, is an advocate of good environmental management, and his Mayo Blackhead ewes play a vital role in the local biodiversity.

The Calveys were awarded the accolade at a special event on October 27 in Kinvara, Co. Galway, with MEP Mairead McGuinness overseeing proceedings.

The award ceremony came after four weeks of voting, in which the public – and particularly the farming community – was asked to pick from six shortlisted nominees.

The Farming for Nature award is part of a wider initiative to celebrate farmers who are having a positive effect on their land and communities.

The award was sponsored by An Bord Bia and had the support of various groups and bodies, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc and the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Martin’s daughter Martina said that the family “respect nature; we work with it and it rewards us well”.

This year’s finalists represent such a rich and varied cross-section of all that’s great about Irish farming; hard-working farmers who love their land and their livestock and who really care for their natural environment.

One of the project’s organisers, Brendan Dunford, said of the finalists: ”We can all learn something from these inspiring people and we should all be really grateful for what they do.

“I’m delighted for the Calveys and how they have managed, as a family, to bring a taste of Achill to food lovers all across Ireland; [a] testament to their entrepreneurship and hard work,” he added.

Meanwhile, project coordinator, Brigid Barry, commented that each of the finalists had “incredible farms in such different landscapes and with diverse habitats; they are doing fantastic things for nature and are keen to share stories so that other farmers are inspired to improve their land as well”.