It is actually very satisfying to see the work of other farmers across Europe that have a similar mission to ours at Cloncannon Biofarm. It is well recognised that organic farmers are and need to be in tune with their surroundings and its creatures. We as organic farmers have no easier options, we must learn from how nature has managed for millions of years to sustainably cater for the huge and beautiful diversity of life to be found across the landscape in which we farm. Nature succeeds through it system of relationships among living organisms and the constant flow of energy (food) through the system. Nothing is wasted . The leaves from the trees are broken down by microbes, mites, beetles, centipeded, millipedes, and earthworms into food to be taken up again by plants. There is a relationship of interdependence between the above and below ground biodiversity.
Whether it be a tropical rainforest, a coral reef or an African savannah, the higher the mix of species (bio –diverse) found is scientifically proven to provide resilience in times of challenges such as disease or climatic factors. At Cloncannon Biofarm we have a continually evolving strategy to enhance the habitats and species on the farm. Each year we seem to plant more and more native trees into field corners or adjacent to existing woodland. As much as possible we seed save from trees in the local area. We place a very high value on hedgerows as habitats and corridors for wildlife. A rotational system of management is in place and we aim to have hedges with species and structural (some mature trees and some young trees) diversity. It is actually quite interesting to study the difference in species found on the north facing side of the hedge compared to those found on the south facing aspect. This is related to some plants having a preference for more damp shaded areas and others loving to catch the sun.
The arrival of the track machine or hymac digger to excavate the new ponds brought with it a great sense of satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment from the potential longer term environmental benefits. Thankfully the driver/operator is also very keen to do an excellent job, as he is passionate about using such a powerful machine to enhance rather than cause destruction to nature.
In the garden we create areas for wildlife by leaving dead wood, nettle/thistle/grasses and wildflower corners. The earthworms love to find refuge and reproduce under recycled cardboard. Maybe we will get a chance to create a bug hotel (winter accomodation)in the autumn of 2014. Rainwater harvesting and composting are two other very important practices undertaken to benefit the environment. Feeding the soil with compost, compost teas and farmyard manure helps to improve the soil structure and increase the soil food web which in turn can provide extra minerals and trace elements for the vegetables we consume and sell. Organic gardening is a learning curve and during this winter further research will be done into companion planting and seed variety selection. Planning is very important, not just for next years’ crops but also for how we leave this beautiful organic farm for the next generations.
I have attached a link below which gives examples of organic farmers in other European countries who are committed to working with Nature and enhancing biodiversity for a sustainable future. I hope you enjoy and consider sharing.