One man's journey to organic production with Aubrac cattle
Case study: Michael Heslin, Gortlettragh, Co Leitrim
Michael Heslin farms in Gortlettragh, Co Leitrim. He converted to organic farming with IOFGA in 2009 and around about the same time he became involved with social farming.
"I decided to convert to organic farming as I was not eating what I was producing, so to correct that wrong I went organic as you are what you eat," he explained.
"Equally, I feel passionately about social farming. I think that it works fantastically and participants really get a sense of pride in what they do.
"It's a great way to open up farms to the wider community, while at the same time providing an opportunity for participants to engage in physical activity."
Michael has three participants on the farm one day a week, and tasks are decided based on ability and skills of the people involved.
Jobs such as fencing, hanging gates, making tool racks, feeding animals and cleaning out sheds are all part of the mix on the farm.
"Ideally we love to get out but it is weather dependent. We usually begin the day by having a cup of tea and scone, then we discuss and explain the tasks for the day. Progress can often be slow, but that said it is also a great opportunity to get a range of jobs done on the farm that often hang on the long finger," he continued.
Michael farms 55ac, and has Aubrac cattle which he thinks are ideally suited to a social farming setting.