The inaugural winner of the National Farming for Nature Award 2018 will be announced by MEP Mairead McGuinness this Saturday, October 27, at a special event in Kinvara, Co. Galway, during the Burren Winterage Weekend.
Compered by journalist Ella McSweeney, the awards ceremony will be the closing event of the 2018 Burren Winterage School, which has delegates from eight EU countries discussing the theme ‘Farming for Nature’.
The event takes place during the Burren Winterage Weekend, when hundreds of local farmers in the Burren will lead their cattle to the highlands for winter grazing on the unique landscapes.
The following day, the community will join in the Winterage cattle drive, a long uphill walk with the farmers and the cattle to commemorate the practice of Winterage.
Over the past four weeks members of the public, and in particular the farming community, were asked to vote for one of six shortlisted farmers as their top pick for the prestigious Farming for Nature award.
The shortlist was compiled from an initial long-list of farmers which was nominated by over 150 environmental professionals.
The national Farming for Nature Award is sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a range of farming and conservation interests.
One of the award organisers, Brendan Dunford, said: “While we are acutely conscious of the negative impacts that farming can have on our environment, it is important to celebrate those farmers who are doing good things for nature.
“It is our hope that these farmers can inspire others – this year’s nominees are such inspirational people – to do a little more for nature on their own farm.
The awards are a small thank-you to these people who are at the coalface of nature conservation whose voice and practical insights need to be heard and whose work should be supported.
Project co-ordinator Brigid Barry felt that the public buy-in for the project has been really positive.
She said: ‘We are delighted with the level of public support and engagement this first year.
“The nominees are a fantastic cross section of the Irish farming community, great characters with great knowledge to share.
Over the past month thousands of people have viewed short films of the nominees and we’ve received thousands of votes to help decide the winner.”
Burren farmer Michael Davoren, one of the judges, felt that the grass roots nature of this project is what makes it genuine.
What I like about this award is that it gives voice to the farmer on the ground who deals with nature every day.
“Too often it’s some expert or other talking about nature but that’s just one perspective; it’s so important to also hear from those people who are out in nature every day and have a real love and working knowledge of it.”