CATHAL Mooney of Heather Hill Farm in Donegal has been chosen as a Farming for Nature Ambassador for 2021.
Mooney is one of seven Ambassadors chosen for the 2021 Farming for Nature public vote awards.
Mooney is a regenerative farmer located in Donegal. He takes a holistic approach to farming, focusing on ecological, social and economic goals. Heather Hill Farm produce pasture raised turkey, pasture raised chicken, pasture raised eggs, wildflower honey and grass-fed lamb.
They operate a Holistic Planned Grazing system, meaning their animals are moved to fresh pasture every day. Not only does this benefit the animals, but it helps build soil fertility and create habitats. They have implemented a Silvopasture system where fruit trees, nut trees and berry bushes have been planted throughout their grassland.
This increases biodiversity and contributes to healthy soil. Common visitors to the farm include red squirrel and red deer. This year they are planning to build a pond on the farm to create a water habitat.
Mooney is passionate about education. He believes strongly in building personal relationships with his customers and educating them on where their food comes from and how it is produced.
He frequently runs farm tours/open days, giving customers and farmers the opportunity to see first-hand the regenerative farming practices he is carrying out.
He said: “Our goal is to produce local food for the community. We want our customers to become our friends and come to the farm to see how their food is produced.”
Working in ways that mimic nature, building healthy soil, selling direct to customers and providing education around regenerative agriculture is central to what they do at Heather Hill Farm.
Mooney added: “We aim to produce quality grass fed produce that improves the soil, adds value to our community and sustains the farm into the future.”
Now in its fourth year, Farming For Nature (FFN, www.farmingfornature.ie) 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. This year’s ambassadors come from right across Ireland and include beef, poultry, forestry and tillage farmers who manage a wide range of very valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows.
The 7 ambassadors will be featured at the annual Burren Winterage Weekend (www.burrenwinterage.com) in October when the winner of the public vote will also be announced. Sixteen additional ambassadors will be announced and profiled over the coming months, bringing the FFN Ambassador network to a total of 66 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.