West Kerry organic farmers Thomas and Claire O’Connor won the public choice vote in the 2019 National Farming For Nature ambassador awards, sponsored by Bord Bia.
Project co-ordinator Brigid Barry said, ‘Each 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 O’Connors, from Manna Organic Farm, are an encouraging story on how much nature you can support on 25 acres, whilst also having a productive business. Thomas and Claire produce vegetables, salads, wheatgrass, meat, poultry and eggs which they sell locally in their shop in Tralee.
They have 15 acres of native Irish woodland and four acres of permaculture, including fruit trees. They also have an agro-forestry area, and promote pollinator and biodiversity-friendly habitats.
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.”
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; and the National Rural Network.
Farmers from across Ireland came together in the Burren, Co Clare, last weekend to celebrate the ten awards finalists. Dr Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, said, “The work of these ambassadors demonstrates that simple actions can make a big difference for the wellbeing of nature and of people and will hopefully inspire other farmers to take some small steps to look after their farm’s wildlife.”