Farming for Nature (FFN) has welcomed Andrew Chilton who keeps a herd of Dexter cattle and alpacas at two separate farms in Co. Roscommon to its ambassador network.

Alongside his family, Andrew manages a 6ha organic farm where he keeps a mix of animals, including a small herd of Dexter cattle and, at different times, pigs, goats, sheep and chickens.

The mixed-stock organic farmer is part of this year’s 15 ambassadors from across Ireland who manage valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands, wetlands, woodlands, uplands and hedgerows.

Andrew has trialled different methods of agroforestry on this land, including planting field corners and nature corridors, and block planting. He plants between 50-100 trees on the land every year.

He dug two ponds on the land in Roscommon, which have attracted many insects and birds. The family has counted over 30 different bird species on the farm, according to FFN.

As an advocate for diversity on farms, the family also grows vegetables for the home, and manages an apple and plum orchard. The farm also includes an apiary and honey is sold commercially.

Mixed-stock organic farmer Andrew Chilton. Image source: FFN

On the second farm, which borders Lough Key and is surrounded by woodland, Andrew keeps a herd of 52 alpacas, producing alpaca fleece which is processed in the UK.

The finished pillow and duvet products made using alpaca fleece are sold directly from the farm, where tours and alpaca trekking are also offered, according to FFN.

All of the animals are on a rotational grazing system and overwinter outdoors, according to FFN, and Andrew has been increasing the diversity of grass species in the pasture in recent years.

Andrew works with Social Farming Ireland, teaches the National Organic Training Skillnet (NOTS) organic production principles course, and works as a farm advisor and planner.

The FFN ambassador will host an online Q&A on Tuesday, November 22 at 8:00p.m. People looking to join the event are asked to register on the FFN website.