Last week we were delighted to host a Farm Walk at our Grange, Co. Roscommon Farm. Our farm started with 30 acres in 2012 and we now farm over 300 acres. Our farm is split between our home farm in Annagh, overlooking Lough Key (approx 150 acres) and the Grange farm near Four Mile House in Co. Roscommon (also approx 150 acres)
This week we hosted a group of aspiring or already registered organic farmers at the Grange farm, where a number of speakers made for a great day.
The event was largely organised by local Teagasc Organics Advisor, Enda O’Hart.
First, Teagasc Regional Manager Tom Kellegher opened the event, explaining that this event would be a great opportunity for organic farmers or those considering conversion to organics to learn about some great practices and ask questions about how we do things at Drumanilra!
After that, Liam Gavin, our founder and farmer, spoke to the group about our unique business model, how the farm feeds into our restaurants and farm shops – the truest “farm to table” model we know of! We hope this shows that sustainability doesn’t mean sacrificing having a profitable farm, and that the benefits are widespread – better for people, animals and the planet. Check out our restaurants here: www.honestlykitchen.ie
Then Drumanilra Farm Manager, Richard Kelly, spoke about day-to-day operations at the Grange farm. Richard manages the Grange farm brilliantly, keeping an eye on our Dexter cattle, our crops of oats and red clover and more. Richard has his own farm locally too.
After that Cathal McCauley of Teagasc spoke about the animal housing requirements for organic farms. There are strict requirements for space organic certified animals. They must have more room to roam indoors than their conventional counterparts, and they must have space for a bedded lying area. This isn’t always seen in conventional farming. This housing is far better for the animal’s mental and physical wellbeing, as well as being a strict requirement for conversion. No overcrowding here!
Next Elaine Leavy, an Organics Advisor for Teagasc, talked through the Organic Farming Scheme. She explained how farmers can receive payments for going organic. She also outlined what the steps are for going from conventional farming to full certification. This process, known as “conversion”, takes 2 years to complete.
Enda O’Hart from Teagasc spoke about the benefits of using red clover silage in organic rotations. Red Clover improves the fertility of soil without using artificial or synthetic fertilisers.
Our last speaker was Martin Bourke, who spoke about the advantages of farmers growing their own organic cereal crops. Organic cereals can be more expensive than conventional crops, which can put some farmers off going organic. What better way to balance this than to grow your own organic cereals to supplement organic livestock feed than to grow your own! Farmers also then have the option to sell off their surplus cereal crops, improving the profitability of their farms.
Overall, it was a brilliant day, and although we weren’t blessed with the weather, the crowd was able to see where we have implemented the above practices. Our team love working with farmers at all stages of their organic conversion. We truly believe that organic farming is the future for Irish agriculture. Going organic is better for animals, people and the planet. If we can help to convince even one other farmer to put their farm into organic conversion, it’s worth standing out in the rain! Huge thanks to the organisers and everyone who attended. Thanks also to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for supporting this event!
Stay tuned to our social media for more farm events!