Leaf and Root Farm
“There is an awakening that has to happen in Irish farming and empowering farmers is one of the best ways to challenge Ireland’s political system.”
That is one of the key messages, Fergal Anderson along with Emanuela Russo, hope to convey as some of the newest members of Farming for Nature’s growing ambassador network.
The Galway-based farming duo runs a market garden in Loughrea, County Galway.
Leaf and Root Farm comprises 30-acres in total, 25 of which is mixed forestry. They use the remaining 5-acres to produce a vast range of agroecologically produced vegetables and fruits.
These include but are not limited to, beets, chard, kale, radish, blackcurrants, gooseberries, loganberries, apples, plums, pears, and a range of medicinal herbs. They sell their produce direct to customers and supply restaurants in Galway.
They have been working on the land for eight years – gradually building the soil and transforming it into a productive farm that is “economically and ecologically sustainable”.
Furthermore, they keep bees on the Galway enterprise and plan to reintroduce chickens to include in their vegetable rotation system.
They use a diverse range of green manures on the farm to increase the soil’s fertility and enhance soil biology and structure.
Besides, they grow summer green manure crops to provide food for insects.
The farm is “full of biodiversity”. There is a stream in the woodland which has crayfish and otters in it. There are two small ponds with frogs and newts.
Also, there are red squirrel and pine marten, foxes, hares, bats, and sparrowhawks.
They have planted ‘natural edges’ around the land with hazel, hawthorn and other native trees.
Also, they leave ‘wild spaces’ around as much of the land as possible to further increase biodiversity.
Now in its fourth year, FFN aims to “source, share and celebrate” the stories of farmers across Ireland who manage their land in a way that sustains nature, while providing a livelihood for their families.
This year’s FFN ambassadors come from across Ireland and include beef, sheep, forestry, dairy, horticulture, and tillage farmers.
These manage a wide range of “very valuable” habitats including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands, and hedgerows.
The FFN ambassador network consists of family farms, couples, and both male and female farmers.
FFN is featuring their ambassadors on a bi-monthly basis until August 2022. See their social media platforms to learn more about these farmers and the work they undertake for nature on their land.
FFN will work with these inspiring ambassadors to produce farm videos, podcasts, ‘Ask the Farmer’ sessions, farm walks and more.