You are probably well aware that it was the shamrock which was used by St.Patrick to illustrate the trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as he set about introducing the Christian doctrine into Ireland. At Cloncannon Biofarm we decided to go for an emblem that has a very strong significance for Organic farming, and that is the three leafed Clover. We too have a trinity that we need to convey a message about. The three leaves reflect the guiding principles of Cloncannon Biofarm, they are, health, nature and the future.
Health in this instance refers to healthy soil, plants and animals including humans. Soil is made from three key components, physical, chemical and biological. The initial stage involves the weathering of rock by chemical reaction caused by rainfall erosion and freeze, thaw actions over time. Water, air and humus combine with this mineral element to provide a suitable habitat for the biological component of earthworms, mites, insects, bacteria, fungi and plants. When these elements are present in correct proportions the physical component or soil structure will be optimum for plant growth. A healthy soil will have about 25% air and about 25% water. The decomposed animal and plant material in the soil (the organic matter/humus) is the food source for the microbes and once they digest this it becomes part of the nutrient source for the plants. The plants are miniature factories which harness the suns’ energy through photosynthesis and using the minerals extracted from the soil to create sugars so that it can produce plant tissue and also send some ‘thank you’ sugars down to the microbes in the soil.
The acidity or alkalinity (the pH) of the soil will determine the microbial activity, earthworm activity, structure and chemical reactions that take place and therefore the major and minor minerals available to the plant and it follows also to the animals or humans. Aside from the major elements of nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, calcium, magnesium, and sulphur, the plant usually needs about 64 minor nutrients. There is a saying or well know statement “We are what we eat”, and for this reason I think that most organic farmers are committed to building soil health. You can learn a lot more about this process when you visit Cloncannon Biofarm.
The Nature element of Our Logo embraces not just the millions of wonderful creatures to be found on Cloncannon Biofarm but the interactions and relationships between these and also the exchanges between the atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere. We encourage visitors to use their five senses when they are on one of the tours of the farm, so that they can have a greater appreciation of the beauty and the wonder and awe of Natures’ systems, cycles and relationships. But with our vision we cannot see all that is happening, for example, the soil food web continuously changing matter to energy and recycling nutrients or the trees taking in the carbon dioxide and giving us oxygen. We take for granted the many services that Nature provides to us each moment of the day and in most of our actions to make a living. We can learn so much from Natures’ way of interconnection, co-operation and no waste systems. Care of the Earth and connecting to our partners in existence forms a considerable part of the learning experience at Cloncannon Biofarm.
#.3 THE FUTURE
Why is the ‘Future’ the third part of this trinity. As with all creatures in Nature we humans aim to reproduce and allow the species to progress into the future. But maybe it is time for us to ask, “How are we doing”? Even to ask, “What is our Quality of Life”? What provisions are we making for future generations? When we do a tour on the farm we can visualise the past as we investigate the Ringfort, Old Stone Dwelling and the Old Creamery. We can try to imagine the lifestyles and traditions. We may start a debate on ‘Change’ over time, changes for better and/or worse. Then we consider where we are at in terms of using the earth resources of air, water, soil, fish and the many services provided by Nature/Biodiversity. Now is a good time to introduce into the debate our ‘needs and wants’ and to consider the global impacts with a fast increasing world population.
But maybe we do not need to find a complex solution but to look at how Nature has succeeded over millennia to evolve and adapt. Maybe we can also learn quite a lot from the generations gone before us. The Celts had a strong connection with the earth and respected it bounty of food, resources and beauty. A native American people called the Iroquois had a philosophy of planning for the seventh generation into the future. This seems like a very selfless and caring strategy, but I might add that these people had a deep respect for Nature and creatures that they shared the land with. Maybe we can achieve great strides towards sustainability by connecting to Nature.
When you visit the farm you can pick your own clover plant and hopefully bring home the message entailed within. We welcome all comments. Look forward to hearing from you.
Sean O’ Farrell Msc. Bioidiversity and Conservation