Michael Meharg farms a 250 ha suckler cow enterprise in county Antrim which includes conservation on a number of protected sites in NI. Passionate about the environment and rare breeds and with a background in ecology Michael facilitates work with farmers in the Lough Neagh area Environmental Farming Scheme focusing on delivering for priority habitats and breeding waders. Michael is interested in how the public and the market can better support nature friendly farming produce across Northern Ireland.
David is an arable farmer, passionate about the environment & grey partridge. He was the Purdey Gold Award Winner 2016 and Northern Ireland Wildlife Farmer of the Year 2015. David is also a committee member of the management body for the Strangford and Lecale AONB and advisory member for the Strangford Lough Marine Protected Area.
Jack farms 90 acres of mixed farmland in east county down with his son Adam. Here, they grow a range of cereals, field beans and graze sheep. Farming with nature has been an integral part of the farm business since the 80s, where management was significantly changed to work with, rather than against it. This ethos guides all activities on the farm, whilst providing a livelihood for Jack and his whole family.
Charlie Cole a first generation farmer who manages Broughgammon on the North coast of Antrim. The farm, famous for its award-winning rose ceal and goat burgers, has been championing sustainability and the principle of ‘forward thinking farming’ since 2012. Broughgammon is a mixed system aiming to demonstrate high welfare standards, environmental stewardship resilience and profitability. Charlie is a passionate advocate for locally produced sustainable food, highlighting that nature friendly farming can play a key role in addressing many of the current problems facing food and farming at present.
Acton Farm in Poyntzpass demonstrates the potential of sustainable farming on a large scale. Covering over 1,000 acres the farm focuses on the production of cereals and high-quality Aberdeen Angus beef. The farm grows a range of cereals including oats, which are transported just down the road to the mill at White’s in Tandragee. It’s also a haven for nature, supporting a wide range of different species and habitats. For Simon, sustainability must be all encompassing, covering food production, community involvement and the environment. The farm works well on all three fronts producing high quality food, safeguarding nature and engaging with the local community. The farm has developed detailed action plans to guide environmental management. This has resulted in the creation of a range of beneficial features for nature, including Wild Bird Cover, Pollen and Nectar Mixes, Rough Grass Margins and over wintered stubble. Acton also has its own composting facility, which helps maintain soil fertility and quality. Simon also works hard to demonstrate the benefits of farming to the community, with open farm events taking place regularly.
After retiring from a long career in politics, David has more time for farming. His wife, Anne, and he operate a certified organic beef and sheep system on their small farm in County Antrim. They celebrated David’s ‘retirement’ by planting over 400 metres of native hedgerow and are now watching it grow. David believes that nature friendly farming can play a pivotal role in providing solutions to a number of the environmental challenges we face at present. It is pivotal to halting biodiversity loss as well as helping face the climate challenge.
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Tony Johnston is a Chartered forester who runs the largest Christmas tree farm in Northern Ireland. As a forestry agent he manages woodland for over 100 private and corporate landowners. He sits on the DAERA RDP Monitoring Committee, Plant Health Stakeholders Group and is the Confederation of Forestry Industries representative with the Forest Service Grants and Regulations Branch, focusing particularly on grant scheme development. He was a runner up in the 2019 NI Farmer of the Year award.
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Joel Kerr farms at Tyghan Farm, a 32-hectare organic poultry farm. He produces free range organic chickens, alongside small herds of native breed Shorthorn cattle and Dorset horn sheep, which he sells for meat directly to farmers markets. Joel is passionate about connecting the public with local food and the role that nature friendly farming can play in safeguarding nature and climate in Northern Ireland.
Margaret and Allan Brady manage their busy farm along with their sons Christopher and Matthew, and Allan’s father Charlie. The farm comprises of dairy, beef and sheep enterprises. The farm is situated on the shores of Lower Lough Macnean, with Cuilcagh and Marlbank mountains to the south and Belmore mountain to the North.