Fruit and vegetable grower Jim Cronin, from Bridgetown in East Clare, has been chosen as a Farming for Nature Ambassador for 2020.
Jim is one of eight Farming for Nature Ambassadors chosen for 2020. Now in its third year, Farming For Nature (FFN), 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, sheep, horticulture and tillage farmers who manage a wide range of very valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows.
The public are invited to vote for their favourite ambassador by visiting www.farmingfornature.ie. You can learn more about each ambassador by viewing a specially-commissioned short film which provide an insight into these farmers and their inspiring work.
Jim runs a 16-acre organic market garden farm where he has been adopting biological agriculture principles for the last 30 years. Jim’s entire farming ethos is seamlessly entwined with nature conservation. Not only does he create a habitat for pollinators and wildlife but also for all the unseen worms and micro-organisms which are fundamental to growing crops and sustaining life above ground. Jim has a small suckler herd and two working horses that both help work the land and provide essential manure for soil fertility. According to Jim, farmers should ‘Listen to your heart, yes you have to make money, but every farmer I know is a custodian of the land and intrinsically knows what is best for nature’.
Dr. Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, a volunteer with FFN, said that ‘as people will see when they look at the short films, these ambassadors are really inspirational. Their deep knowledge and passion shines through, providing powerful testimony as to how farming and nature can, and must, work in harmony.
We hope that these stories – which also demonstrate that simple actions can make a big difference for the wellbeing of nature and of people – will inspire other farmers to take some small steps to look after their farm’s wildlife. As a society we must recognise that these farmers are deserving of our respect and support: they embody all that’s great about rural Ireland and they offer great hope for practical solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises that we face.’
The 8 ambassadors will be featured at the annual Burren Winterage Weekend in October (an online event this year) when the winner of the public vote will also be announced. Eight additional ambassadors will be announced and profiled, one per month, over the coming months, joining 28 others from 2018 and 2019.
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 23rd 2020.