Welcome to the July-August edition of the Farming for Nature Newsletter. This bimonthly publication contains news and upcoming events, offers helpful nature-friendly tips for your farm, and shares useful resources, including words of wisdom from our farmers!

As Summer rolls on we’ve already witnessed weather extremes of drought and flooding, offering additional challenges for farmers, their livestock and crops. Now that July is upon us, it’s great to see many of our pastures and meadows recovering to host a wonderful array of plants and pollinators. As we emerge from isolation we are grateful to those farmers who continue to produce safe, nutritious food while at the same time providing space for nature on their land. This week has seen the announcement of a ‘super-junior’ Minister for land use and biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, which hopefully augurs well for our network of ‘farmers for nature’ and will bring more recognition and support to those farm families who produce nutritious local food in harmony with nature.

The Farming for Nature initiative was established to help acknowledge and support those farmers who farm, or wish to farm, in a way that improves the natural health of our countryside. It was set up by people with a genuine interest in the wellbeing of our rural landscapes, many of whom work on a voluntary basis to build up this network and profile the good practices that are happening across the country. There are ways in which we can all get involved in this initiative, so please read on and see what you can do.

Farming for Nature Short Video


Ask the Farmer Series

These sessions will take place on Mondays in July and August at 8pm – Register now and don’t miss out!!!

These Monday evening sessions will include a short interview with the featured farmer and then an open Q&A session where you can ‘ask the farmer’ about anything you want to know about farming for nature on their farm, with a focus on practical management advice. It is a great opportunity to learn from our amazing Ambassadors who work with nature every day on their farms, and also to share your own ideas and experience of ‘Farming for Nature’. These sessions will take place on Mondays in July and August at 8pm online through Zoom and will last up to one hour.

20th July: Farming with sheep & agritourism with Suzanna Crampton Register here

27th July: Farming for habitats & species with Feargal Ó Cuinneagáin Register here

3rd August: Hillfarming & species richness with Bridget Murphy Register here


One of our wonderful (voluntary!) supporters has been out and about making superb podcasts with farmers across Ireland on our behalf. Hearing these farmers’ voices demonstrates what eloquent and knowledgeable spokespersons for nature they are! Be sure to tune in to these podcasts – most recent additions include Farming for Nature Ambassadors Feargal Ó Cuinneagáin and Darina Allen. Don’t forget to share, rate and review these podcasts.

Darina Allen’s Podcast

Feargal Ó Cuinneagáin’s Podcast

Farming For Nature wins Global Biodiversity Award!

We were delighted to learn in early July that, from a pool of over 200 great conservation projects across the world, Farming for Nature (FFN) was awarded 2nd place in a global biodiversity challenge! The ‘Act For Biodiversity Challenge’ sought to identify ‘bold social innovators who are bringing people together to take on the extensive, complex, and urgent issue’ of biodiversity loss, and to identify ways to ‘collaborate to preserve and restore biodiversity through solutions designed for agriculture, urban environments and forests’.

Here at FFN we believe that farmers are a potentially huge resource in responding to our climate and biodiversity crisis. To mobilise this resource, FFN tries to acknowledge and celebrate those farmers who already do great things for nature, then share their enthusiasm and practical knowledge with their farming peers. But we also recognise that farming is a business and so we strongly advocate paying farmers who deliver ecosystem services on their land, and supporting them with the research and advice to do so. This award will hopefully enable Farming For Nature to work with partners in other countries across the EU to highlight and support their own ‘farmers for nature’.

This award is a credit to our sponsors (Bord Bia, DAFM and NPWS) who have supported our work in Ireland thus far, and also to the amazing network of farmers we work alongside; farmers who every day are making space for nature and sharing their passion with their local and national communities. Take a bow Farming For Nature Ambassadors, this award is for you!  More information on the award here.

The Farming for Nature Ambassador Awards are in full swing

In spite of all the obstacles, 2020 has been a great year for nominations for our FFN Ambassador Awards – so many superb farmers were nominated, thanks to all of those people who took the time to make a nomination. Each one of the nominated farmers has an inspiring story to tell – how and why they farm for nature – and we are grateful for the work of these unsung heroes. From beef to horticulture, sheep to poultry, Christmas trees to dairy, this year’s nominees represent a wide range of farming systems, land types and personal stories from 18 different counties.

The process of selecting this year’s Ambassadors is proceeding well. Given Covid restrictions, we won’t be able to visit all nominated farms this year (we will visit some in 2021 instead) but we have compiled a shortlist from our initial interviews and our judges will visit these farms over the coming months. Following this, we will compile our list of Ambassadors and select some of these to make a short film which we use for our ‘public vote’ in early September.

All of the 2020 nominees have an exceptional story to tell and were so generous in taking the time to share with us what they do on their farm to enhance habitats and attract more species, while endeavouring to remain economically viable. We welcome all of you into Farming for Nature network and will work with you all to share your inspiring stories and encourage others to make changes on their farms for nature. To view all the farmers from this year, click on the link below. The national Farming For Nature Ambassador Awards are supported by Bord Bia.

Nominees 2020

Farm Walks

Our farm walks series will resume this August. These farm walks are an opportunity for the Farming For Nature Ambassador farmers to showcase their contribution to nature and good farming practices on their land. The walks are €5 to attend and you have to register in advance as spaces are limited. With such a range of farms and farming practices, this it is a great way to get ideas on what you can do on your farm for nature. Thanks to all our farmers for agreeing to lead walks.

1st AUGUST 2pm Thomas O’Connor Co.Kerry  Register here
8th AUGUST 2pm Mark Hurst Co.Kildare Register here
15th AUGUST 2pm Moyhill Community Farm Co.Clare Register here
22nd AUGUST 2pm Ailbhe Gerrard Co.Tipperary Register here
5th SEPTEMBER 2pm Kate Egan Co.Westmeath Register here
12th SEPTEMBER 11am Olly Nolan Co.Dublin Register here
19th SEPTEMBER 11am Clive Bright Co.Sligo Register here
10th OCTOBER 2pm Edmund Joyce Co.Carlow Register here

See all Farm Walks here

Wild Wednesday Webinars

The Wild Wednesday Webinars were a series of webinars on the themes of farming, nature and heritage. Co-hosted by the Burrenbeo Trust and the Farming for Nature initiative, they took place between April and June 2020. Each webinar offered an opportunity to virtually meet and listen to a guest speaker as they shared their ideas, experiences and lessons they have learned. If you missed any of these you can view the recordings by clicking on the below.

Recordings of Wild Wednesday Webinars

Our monthly Ambassadors

In order to sustain the momentum of building our network of Farming For Nature Ambassadors across Ireland, each month we are announcing a new Ambassador, based on nominations we received and assessed in 2019. These individuals have been chosen in acknowledgement of their long-standing commitment and contribution to farming for nature on their land and in their community.

Bridget Murphy – Ambassador July 2020

Bridget has been living on, and farming, mountain land on her own for nearly 20 years.  She is the 8th generation to farm the land.  She prefers to practice agroecology over agriculture or agribusiness and uses her farm as a case study on issues ranging from governance of the commons, to using native ponies and  bees to diversify grazing/forage regimes on the hills.  She keeps a flock of Cheviot sheep, four hill ponies and an apiary of native black bees.  She plants copses of native woodlands and maintains watercourses and streams.  She builds dry stone walls and keeps a few acres under traditional hay meadow.  Her land has a healthy wildlife population that includes pine martens, badgers, foxes and lots of hares.  The  birdlife is prolific and there are small trout in the streams.  Heath and blanket bog characterise the higher land parcels, and for the last decade she has been working on rewetting sections of the land; she sees the value in allowing the natural habitat to return and recognises the need to keep the carbon stores locked in the ground.  She is a long-time land rights activist from her early days fighting the Apartheid system in South Africa.  She is also a long-time ecofeminist and is a worthy Farming For Nature Ambassador for July 2020.  More information on Bridget’s farm here.

Moyhill CSA – Ambassador August 2020

The Moyhill CSA project (Fergal, Matt, Mitch and Sally) supplies the local community with food, and hold community events so people can learn to grow and enjoy good nutritious food together.  They acquired 60 acres to expand into regenerative beef farming last year.  They are involved in soil regeneration, habitat restoration and mass planting of native Irish trees.  The ethos they follow is to feed their local community with good food, to reforest the area with more native woodland and to have sovereignty over their food, water and education.  Everything they do is around having a very strong community ethos.  Their charity HomeTree has planted 14,000 native trees like oak, rowan, hazel and birch.  This land is protected and will become a natural woodland ecosystem over the coming years – something they see as vital for supporting animals and plant welfare.  They have also created a 300-tree apple, pear and plum orchard.  They offer their knowledge and space over to schools and national/international educational bodies to share what they have learned and encourage others to do the same.  Fergal Smith and his team at the farm are truly inspirational and very worthy recipients of a Farming for Nature’s Ambassador Award for August 2020.  More information on the Moyhill farm here.

Sign up for the Moyhill Farm Walk on 15th August here

Other News & Events

  • Researcher Elaine O’Riordan is conducting a national survey of hedgehogs in Ireland. As part of this work, she is conducting a questionnaire with farmers to ask whether or not you have hedgehogs on your farm. Please take the survey even if you don’t have hedgehogs on your farm, as it is important to know where they do and do not occur. All data will be treated in strictest confidence and is for research purposes only. The link for the survey is here – it will just take 5 minutes.
  • EU INTERREG Carbon Connects Peatland Survey – (by LIT Thurles) are looking to gather insights and information from farmers, with respect to the role that Peatlands on their farm can play in addressing climate change and mitigation of green house gas emissions, while also considering secondary income sources for landowners and farmers on their Peatlands. The questions focus on general farm data, perceptions of Peatlands, secondary income sources on their Peatlands and potential incentives schemes. Please find the survey link here.

Your Farm

Due to regular requests from farmers across Ireland, we (our farmers and scientists who have so kindly volunteerred their time and knowledge) have put together various sections on the website to help guide you, the farmer, to find ways to improve nature on your farm.  If you have any additional ideas you would like us to include and share, please let us know, all ideas and support are most welcome!

Where to start

FAQs on including nature on the farm

Ambassadors’ Products & Services

Looking for ways to support those farmers who support nature on their farms? How about getting an organic leg of lamb sent straight to the door, a fillet of beef 100% grazed outdoors in butterfly-rich grassland, honey from bees that are getting their nectar from wild bird cover, vegetables that have been carefully grown from local seed, get a farm tour for your school, or stay and/or volunteer on an organic farm (when we can do these things). Click on the below link to get the list of products and services available from our Farming For Nature Ambassadors. And make sure you tell them we sent you!

Products & Services

Share with us any comments, queries, stories or points of interest by emailing us on info@farmingfornature.ie