The Farming for Nature (FFN) project has recently welcome 15 inspiring new farmers to their growing Ambassador network. Now in its fifth year, FFN, supported by the NRN, was set up with an aim to source, share and celebrate the stories of farmers across Ireland who manage their land in a way that sustains nature, while providing a livelihood for their family. Nominations are sought annually from a broad panel of environmental experts and through a rigorous system of interviews, farm visits and assessments by a panel of judges (including Dr Shane Conway on behalf of the NRN); 15 of these farmers have now been selected as Ambassadors this year. This year’s Ambassadors come from across Ireland and include beef, sheep, forestry, dairy, HNV, horticulture and tillage farmers who manage a wide range of very valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands, uplands, wetlands, woodlands, hedgerows and more. The FFN ambassador network is made up of family farms, couples, and both male and female farmers.
Dr Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, founder and committed volunteer with Farming for Nature said; “At a time of so much divisive debate around food security, biodiversity loss and climate change, this year’s farming for nature ambassadors offer us the hope, inspiration and practical advice that we so desperately need to navigate the challenges – and embrace the opportunities – that lie ahead. These farmers deserve our respect, gratitude and support: they embody all that’s great about rural Ireland and we are so proud of them.”
The 2022 Farming for Nature Ambassadors are:
- Andrew Chilton, Alpaca, Roscommon
- Aonghus Ó Coistealbha, Market gardening, Co. Galway
- Brigid O’Connor, Sheep, Co. Kerry
- Bronagh & Cathal O’Rourke, Beef, Co. Clare
- Colm Flynn, Tillage, Co. Kildare
- David Dennison, Vineyard & orchard, Co. Waterford
- Gerry Fitzsimons, Beef, Co. Cavan
- James Ham, Forestry & beef, Co. Westmeath
- Mark Gillanders, Tillage & beef, Co. Monaghan
- Mark Harold Barry, Tillage, forestry & beef, Co. Tipperary
- Maurice Deasy, Tillage & sheep, Co. Tipperary
- McDonagh Family, Horticulture & mixed stock, Co. Mayo
- Pat Mulrooney, Dairy, Co. Tipperary
- Paul McCormick & Jacinta French, Beef & nature, Co. Cork
- Sean Condon, Dairy, Co. Limerick.
Five of these Ambassadors will be featured in the upcoming FFN Public Vote Awards during September-October whereby the public are encouraged to watch a short series of farm videos and vote for their favourite farming story – these videos can be viewed here: https://www.farmingfornature.ie/awards/voting/
This year’s public vote Ambassadors are Brigid O’Connor (Kerry), James Ham (Westmeath), Mark Gillanders (Monaghan), Mark Harold-Barry (Tipperary) and Sean Condon (Limerick). These farmers represent a cross-section of the new group of ambassadors and the aim of the public vote campaign is to raise awareness of the valuable work that so many farmers do to support nature on their land.
The remaining 10 Ambassadors will be introduced on a monthly basis from November 2022 until August 2023. Keep an eye on the FFN’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter platforms to learn more about these wonderful farmers and the valuable work they are doing for nature on their land. FFN will also work these new Ambassadors over the upcoming year to produce podcasts, online live Q&A sessions, farm walks and more.
The national Farming for Nature Ambassador Awards are sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by the NRN along with a range of other farming and conservation interests including the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
For more information go to www.farmingfornature.ie or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.