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Tipperary Farmer Announced as 2022 Farming for Nature Ambassador

Published 2 months ago 18th October 2022 by Reporter

Mark Harold-Barry of Co. Tipperary has been chosen as a Farming for Nature Ambassador for 2022

Mark Harold-Barry is one of five Ambassadors chosen for the 2022 Farming for Nature Public Vote Awards. Now in its fifth year, Farming For Nature (FFN, www.farmingfornature.ie) was set up with the aim of identifying, celebrating and supporting farmers who are farming, or farmers who wish to farm, in ways that support and protect nature on their land.

This year’s ambassadors come from right across Ireland and include beef, dairy, forestry, horticulture and tillage farmers who manage a wide range of valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, uplands, woodlands and more.

The public are invited to vote for their favourite farming story by visiting www.farmingfornature.ie. You can learn more about each Ambassador by viewing a specially commissioned short film which provides an insight into these farmers and their inspiring work.

Mark Harold-Barry runs a mixed organic farm outside Tipperary Town. The 170-acre farm has been certified organic for almost 20 years. Mark grows organic oats for Flahavans and for winter feeding for his stock, he also grows seed oats for Gold Crop. There is about 90 acres of grassland on the farm, which is a mixture of permanent pasture and multispecies swards. Mark keeps a suckler herd of about 25 Aberdeen Angus/Hereford cattle and all of the animals are finished on the farm. He also keeps about 20 hives of honeybees, and the honey is sold locally in Tipperary. The family manage a kitchen garden on the farm and are relatively self-sufficient during the summer months. The farm is extensively managed and external inputs are minimal.

There is about 40acres of woodland on the farm – a mix of hardwood and softwood trees, some very mature and some much younger. Mark follows in this father’s footsteps and continuously plants trees on the land – “My father is a great man and he has a policy of planting about half an acre of trees on the farm every year since he came here.” The woodland provides a wonderful habitat for wildlife. There is a river running through the farm and a pond on the land which attract birds such as the kingfisher, ducks and snipe. Ditches, hedgerows and field margins provide thick nature corridors throughout the land. Mark is proud to run a productive farm, all the while leaving plenty of space for wildlife and biodiversity to thrive.

Dr. Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, founder and committed volunteer with Farming for Nature said; “At a time of so much divisive debate around food security, biodiversity loss and climate change, this year’s farming for nature ambassadors offer us the hope, inspiration and practical advice that we so desperately need to navigate the challenges – and embrace the opportunities – that lie ahead. These farmers deserve our respect, gratitude and support: they embody all that’s great about rural Ireland and we are so proud of them.”

The five Ambassadors will be featured at the annual Burren Winterage Weekend (www.burrenwinterage.com) in October when the winner of the Public Vote Award will also be announced. Ten additional Ambassadors have been announced and will be profiled over the coming months, bringing the FFN Ambassador network to a total of 81 wonderful farms located across the island.
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 voting is midnight Friday October 28th 2022.

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