Supporting farmers looking for on-the-ground advice

Horse’s Mouth project is in response to many queries from farmers and landowners seeking on-site advice about how to enhance the biodiversity of their land but are not sure how best to proceed, organiser Farming for Nature says
Supporting farmers looking for on-the-ground advice

'Many have asked for a fellow farmer to visit and provide practical tips on what they can do to improve the environmental condition of their farms.'

Farming for Nature (FFN) has announced a pilot farmer-to-farmer biodiversity knowledge sharing and mentorship service.

The Horse’s Mouth project is aimed at supporting farmers and landowners who may be looking for on-the-ground practical advice from fellow farmers on how they might improve their land’s natural capital.

FFN coordinator Brigid Barry said the service was in response to many queries it had received over the years from farmers and landowners who are seeking on-site advice about how to enhance the biodiversity of their land but aren’t quite sure how best to proceed.

“Many have asked for a fellow farmer to visit and provide practical tips on what they can do to improve the environmental condition of their farms, to learn how these Farming for Nature farmers did it on their own farms — ‘from the horse’s mouth’ as such.

“Though every farm is different, you can’t underestimate the value of some sound practical advice and encouragement from a fellow farmer,” she said.

The project will involve one of FFN’s mentors walking the land with the owner and sharing simple, practical advice and encouragement. FFN aims to select 20 farmers to partake in the pilot this autumn.

National Heritage Week

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan welcomed the themes as he launched National Heritage Week, which begins on Saturday and continues until August 21.

As well as natural heritage and biodiversity, in-person events and digital project organisers are also being urged to view built and cultural heritage through the lens of sustainability.

Heritage Council chair Martina Moloney said as custodians of Ireland’s heritage, it is incumbent on people to examine how to preserve, sustain and share these unique skills, traditions, art forms and ways of life, while engaging contemporary audiences.

A glance at some of the events organised by groups countrywide for Heritage Week show there is a longing among people to recall and even learn from the way people lived in the past, especially those in rural Ireland, and to take lessons, if possible, from those experiences.

A farming for biodiversity project in Leitrim will be outlined in a webinar on August 17. It aims to support farmers across the county to continue to farm their biodiversity-rich lands while protecting, enhancing them.

Blacksmiths, who provided skilled services in the era of working horse in farming, will be the focus of an open forge classroom at the College of Further Education and Training in Dromsally, Cappamore, Co Limerick on August 19.

Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board’s resident master blacksmith Eric O'Neill will give a demonstration of both traditional and modern forging techniques.

A workshop organised by Lorrha Development Association, Heritage Sub-Committee near Nenagh, Co Tipperary, on August 21, will hear biologist Dr Anne Marie Mahon speak about many of the country’s native trees and shrubs and some that are non-native species.

The craft of woven creel-making is the title of an Office of Public Works interactive event at Portumna Castle and Garden in Co Galway on August 14.

It will be conducted by Barry Noyce, a traditional basket weaver, who has been making everything from cradles to coffins from his homegrown willow in North Tipperary over the past 20 years.

Ireland's indigenous basket was used through the ages for carrying a variety of items such as turf, seaweed, wool, dung and vegetables.

An ongoing survey of the trees located within or adjacent to the roads, streets, parks, and open spaces in Clarecastle will be the subject of an event in the Co Clare town on August 18. It will identify and tag each tree.

A final report will categorise the trees and make recommendations for their short, medium and long-term management. A summary report will be on display in the Old School in conjunction with an exhibition by Clarecastle and Ballyea Heritage and Wildlife exhibition.

The origins and art of wool dying, using plants, will be showcased and discussed at another Clare location, Craggaunowen, Kilmurry on four dates, August 15-17 and August 21.

Wildflowers, which have also played an important part of Irish life and folklore for centuries, will be the subject of a Connecting to Nature talk at Dungarvan Library in Co Waterford on August 20. 

Kerry Social Farming and the Live project will highlight the farmland biodiversity of the Iveragh Peninsula. Fiach Byrne and Luke Myers will present some of the work they are currently carrying out, and there will be a walk around a host farm to see some important habitats.

Another Live project on August 13 will be the re-introduction of meadows at the Valentia Meteorological Observatory in Cahersiveen. People will be shown how to make their own meadows, using traditional techniques.

Cork Nature Network will hold a workshop at Fota Wildlife Park Education Centre on August 13 on how to record hedgehogs. There will also be butter making at Cork Museum on August 20.

Ellen Hutchins, who was Ireland’s first female botanist, will be honoured at a festival in her name in Bantry (August 13-21). She was born in Ballylickey in 1785.

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