John McHugh from Laois, one of 16 Farming for Nature Ambassador finalists for 2020.
An innovative Laois farmer is up for a national award recognising his successful efforts to farm in partnership with nature.
John McHugh is one of 16 Farming for Nature Ambassadors in 2020, and an online public vote is underway to pick your favourite.
He has a 230-acre organic dairy farm just outside Portlaoise in Laois. He moved away from being an intensive dairy farmer in 2015 when he realised that he needed to create a sustainable and resilient lifestyle that his children could carry on.
John has sown diverse pastures and practises holistic grazing that allows pastures to flower and seed enabling some natural succession to take place and bringing about huge jumps in insect populations.
“Having long grazing intervals and reduced grazing pressure is allowing more natural diversity back into the farm," John said.
He has embraced the principles of Permaculture, converting pastures to agroforestry and lining cow access roadways with fruit and nut trees.
Pigs were introduced to the farm as another means of promoting diversity, helping to break the dominance of perennial rye grass and create opportunities for other plants. Oats are sown to provide the straw and grain requirements and the surplus is sold to Flahavans for organic porridge.
In 2018 he decided to open up his farm to people that were able to teach others about engaging with the land and reconnecting with nature, this saw the birth of the Clondarrig community farm project.
“Its all about connection, connection of trees, wildlife, butterflies, but the connection with people as well”.
He is one of 16 Irish farmers chosen as Farming for Nature Ambassadors, and a public vote is underway to find an overall winner.
The Laois Offaly Wildlife Trust is asking Laois people to give John a vote.
"There is a fantastic Laois based farmer who is a brilliant champion for wildlife who we can all get behind. John McHugh of Clondarrig Farm is a finalist in the Farming for Nature Awards and you can help him win by following the link below and giving John your vote. It takes only a few seconds and it would be wonderful for all Johns hard work to to be rewarded and a Laois based farm to be recognised with such an accolade. Please take the time to vote for John and share," they said.
There is a fantastic Laois based farmer who is a brilliant champion for wildlife who we can all get behind. John McHugh...Posted by Irish Wildlife Trust Laois/Offaly Branch on Friday, October 9, 2020
The voting closes on Friday 23rd October at midnight and the winner of this public vote will be announced on Saturday 24th October at the annual Burren Winterage School (online this year).
The Farming for Nature initiative seeks to acknowledge and support those farmers who farm, or wish to farm, in a way that will improve the natural health of our countryside. The annual Farming For Nature Ambassador Awards are supported by Bord Bia.