Tom Keane farms in the Dawros catchment in Connemara. He farms 160 mountain ewes on a mosaic of high nature value peatlands and wet grasslands and is a participant of the Pearl Mussel Project EIP.
The Pearl Mussel Project rewards farmers for the ecological quality of their land, which in turn contributes to the pristine water quality needed by the Freshwater Pearl Mussel.
Tom’s system of farming has maintained and enhanced large areas of active Atlantic blanket bog, achieving a score of 10/10 on the Pearl mussel peatland scorecard for much of it.
‘Getting the land to work for you’
This is an excellent example of perfectly intact peatland which is farmed in a manner to benefit both the stock and the land. Tom is very passionate about where he farms, he feels one of the best things about farming in this area is the wild nature of the area, “It’s not the easiest place to farm, but I love the area”.
He feels the key to getting the best from his farm is “getting the land to work for you”. He ensures his stock are rotated regularly and works with nature to get the best from his land.
When asked what he feels the future of farming is for areas like Connemara, Tom said that Connemara has a very special environment and more locally led initiatives like the Pearl Mussel Programme working with farmers will help to preserve the area for future generations and for visitors to the area.
He is an excellent example of what can be achieved by working with the natural landscape of the area to get the best for both environment and the stock. Tom is a farmer with a strong understanding of the crucial importance of his land management to the environment.
He notices and knows nature, as he does farming, recognising not just the challenges but the rewards of hill farming.
Whilst he doesn’t necessary farm for nature, he farms for sheep but does so in a way that is in sympathy with nature.
Farming for Nature
Now in its third year, Farming For Nature was set up with an aim 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 family.
Nominations are sought annually from a broad panel of environmental experts and through a rigorous system of interviews, farm visits and assessments by a panel of judges, 16 of these farmers were selected as ambassadors in 2020.
Of these, 8 ambassadors have been chosen to represent a cross-section of the farming community during September and October.
They will be featured at the Burren Winterage Weekend at the end of October when the winner of the public vote will also be announced.
The Farming for Nature Awards are sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Rural Network.
The deadline for 2020 voting is midnight Friday, October 23rd, 2020 – To vote or to obtain any further information, click here.