October 21st – October 25th

Online Presentations, Discussions, Farming for Nature Awards, Farm Walks and More


The Burren Winterage School , now in its 7th year, is an annual gathering of farmers, researchers, students, farm advisors, public officials and policymakers to share knowledge, experience and ideas around sustainable farming, particularly on ‘high nature value’ farmland in Ireland and Europe.

Draft programme available here.  

Brendan Dunford,  School Director and Manager of the Burren Programme noted ‘This year’s Burren Winterage School will be mostly virtual, featuring speakers from Austria, Slovenia, Colombia, Japan, South Africa, Greece, Finland, USA, UK and Ireland, who will contribute to a series of on-line presentations and discussions on themes relating to ‘farming for nature’ and how farming can make a more positive contribution to addressing our global climate and biodiversity crises.’

James Rebanks, farmer based in Lake District in northern England and best-selling author of ‘The Shepherd’s Life’ and the now newly published, ‘English Pastoral – an inheritance’ will talk about his sustainable and life-enhancing approach to farming, read excerpts from his books and answer participant questions on the first evening of the Burren Winterage School on Wed 21st October.  Earlier that day the focus will be on ‘European Innovation Partnership’ projects from all over Ireland.

Thursday 22nd Oct will see a focus on the innovative model of paying farmers for ‘Ecosystem Services’ and will include Professor Allan Buckwell, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of European Environmental Affairs (IEEP), looking at ‘Balancing the CAP as a policy for Food and Agricultural Security’.  That evening, Rob Burton, one of the authors of ‘The Good Farmer: Culture and Identity in Food and Agriculturewill share some of the fascinating insights from his work.

The keynote speaker on Friday 23rd Oct will be Patrick Holden, founder of the Sustainable Food Trust in the UK, who will share some of his thoughts as a farmer and campaigner.

Events on Saturday 24th will focus on the farmer’s perspective, with ‘real-life’ walks hosted by a number of Burren farmers who will share their insights and knowledge into farming for conservation in the Burren.  Places are limited on these walks in line with the current Covid-19 restrictions and booking in advance is essential through www.burrenwinterage.com.  A celebration of the inspiring work being done on a daily basis by farmers across Ireland to support nature on their land will take place virtually on Saturday evening in the form of the Annual Farming for Nature Ambassador Awards presented by journalist and broadcaster Ella McSweeney.

The Burren Winterage School is part of the broader Burren Winterage Weekend festival which also includes additional online events such as the launch of a new winterage-themed children’s book, a Burren animal themed art workshop and a Burren farming family quiz.  The annual Cattle Drive – whereby a Burren farm family bring their herd to the hills as part of an ancient farming tradition, will be a closed event this year, but will be broadcast virtually on Sunday 25th of October.

Programme details and registration links for all the events of the Burren Winterage School and Burren Winterage Weekend are available on www.burrenwinterage.com

The Burren Winterage School is coordinated by the Burrenbeo Trust, an independent landscape charity, and made possible with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.