WATCH: Meet the farmers taking part in Open Farm Day


Three farms across the country will simultaneously open their gates to the public this Bank Holiday Monday (May 6th) as part of Agri Aware’s National Open Farm Day.

This unique event aims to bring Agri Aware’s mission “to improve the understanding of agriculture and the agri-food industry” to life in an engaging and a holistic way – bringing consumers on the full “pasture to plate” journey of their food.

According to research carried out by Empathy Research on behalf of Agri Aware - the Irish agri-food educational body - 89% of urban dwellers believe food education should be mandatory in primary schools, furthermore, 74% believe a visit to a farm is very important for children when growing up.

According to the findings, nearly 9 in 10 adults (89%) of urban residents believe that food education should be mandatory in primary schools.

74% of those surveyed also believe that a visit to a farm is very important for children when growing up.

National Open Farm Day

Host farmers

  • The Nicholson Family - Crosshaven Co. Cork

  • The Wards - Fieldstown, Co. Dublin

  • The Hannons - Co. Kildare

Each farm will host several activity zones on the day including:

  • Meet the Farmer: from Moo-ternity wards to tours of the Milking Parlour there will be talks on each farm with the farm families, giving visitors a chance to get a real life experience of what life is like on the farm, the animals and crops the farmers tend to each day and some history of the farm.
  • The Cookery Zone: Each location will have the “farm to fork” journey come to life with a host of cookery demo by celebrity chef’s cooking a veritable feast using local produce and ingredients straight from the farm. Celebrity chefs on the day include Edward Hayden (Kildare), Gary O’Hanlon (Dublin) and Adrian Martin (Cork). You will also get a chance to meet many of the local producers from Beekeepers to farmhouse cheese producers.
  • The Kids Zone: The kid zone will be a hive of activity with lots of fun interactive activities for younger visitors this will include milk races, butter discos (making their own butter), farm safety games, face-painting, farm trails and lots more!

Free of Charge

The event is free of charge for everyone. On the day, each of the farms will open their gates to the public from 11am – 4pm and each location will offer its own unique programme of activities.

Meet the Farmers

Name: Laurence and Denise Ward, Fieldstown West, Co. Dublin

Laurence and Denise Ward’s farm is situated only 17km from O’Connell Street in the heart of North County Dublin. Rich in history and tradition, the farm dates back as far as the 1200s.

The Wards operate a mixed enterprise farm system consisting of beef, sheep, tillage and some horses. They also operate a horticulture business producing pumpkins, courgettes, plums, apples and flowers. The predominant beef breeds on the farm are Aberdeen Angus and Hereford.

The ewes are a mix of Suffolk-crosses, Texel-crosses, Llyn-crosses, Shropshires and mule-crosses. Ram breeds on the farm are Suffolk, Texel, Llyn and Shropshire. Ewe lambs are retained for breeding from the flock each year, and fifty replacement hoggets are purchased every year.

Both the beef and lamb systems on the farm are Quality Assured under the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme.

Laurence and Denise also have a small number of horses on the farm. A number of champion horses have been bred at Fieldstown over the course of history. John Ward, father of Laurence, trained several winning horses, including; Deny’s Adventure, Straight Row, Delafield and Gysart.

The Fieldstown Farm has also been involved in the GLAS environmental scheme over the last number of years. Through this programme, the farm has helped with the reintroduction of the Grey Partridge - a bird that was previously on the verge of extinction.

Name: Niall, Billy and Olga Nicholson, Hoddersfield, Crosshaven, Co. Cork -

Beef, Tillage and Forestry

The Nicholson farm is situated just outside Cork city in the Crosshaven/Carrigaline area. The Nicholson’s are celebrating their 100th year on the farm in 2019, with Niall being the fourth-generation of Nicholsons to farm here.

In 1919, Benjamin Nicholson started a mixed farming enterprise of dairy, tillage and beef on the farm. Today the Nicholson’s run a beef, tillage and forestry mixed enterprise on their 178-hectare farm.

The Nicholsons operate a suckler-beef system which focuses on producing high-quality beef from grass and home-grown feed. In 2019, they calved 110 cows, predominantly Simmental-crosses.

Tillage production on the farm consists of 4.6-hectares of fodder beet and 41-hectares of a winter and spring barley mix. Fodder beet is kept on the farm as a feed source for animals over the winter months along with around 90-tonnes of barley.

The remaining barley goes to the local co-op, where it is sold as feeding barley for animals or malting barley for making beers and whiskey. The forestry on the farm acts as a beautiful natural shelter belt; it consists of a mix of softwoods, Spruce and Scots pine, as well as hardwoods such as Ash, Oak, Beech, Birch and Sycamore.

As participants in the GLAS programme, the Nicholson’s have planted 6 acres of barley oats and linseed to form a wild bird cover. They have also put in two tonnes of sand for native bees to benefit from and use.

Over 150 pheasants are also reared on the farm annually to repopulate the declining local pheasant population. Wildlife is in abundance on the farm, with foxes, hares, badgers, rabbits, red squirrels and the occasional deer.

Name: Larry and Karen Hannon, Ballitore, Co. Kildare - Dairy farmers

The Hannon farm is nestled in the quiet Quaker village of Ballitore in South Kildare, only half an hour from County Dublin.

The Hannons have a third-generation farm. The site of the Hannon farm is the birthplace of Mary Leadbeater - an Irish authoress and sister of the famous Earnest Shackleton, famed Irish explorer.

In 1964, the Hannon family expanded their enterprise, by building their first milking parlour, containing 3 units. These days, Larry milks 215 cows, but doesn’t do it alone, Karen Hannon works full-time off the farm.

An Avonmore milk supplier, Larry milks his cows 365 days a year; morning milking starts at 6:30am and evening milking aims to finish by 6pm.

The farm supplies all of its milk to the Glanbia creamery in Ballitore, which is visible from the farmyard.

Larry took over the farm in 2003 and has grown the farm from 20 - 215 cows, and along with his wife Karen and their three daughters - Lucy, Sally and Amy - are looking forward to sharing what they do on their farm.

Information

If you would like more information click here or contact 00353-1-4601103

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