Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 23 February 2017

Grassroots diary: Twitter helping to beat isolation in farming

Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Organ, Hill 16 Macra, Grace Hoey, North County and Richard White, Hill 16 Macra, at the Macra bowling competition at the in Charlestown Leisureplex. Photo: Arthur Carron
Claire Organ, Hill 16 Macra, Grace Hoey, North County and Richard White, Hill 16 Macra, at the Macra bowling competition at the in Charlestown Leisureplex. Photo: Arthur Carron

Almost 10,000 farmers from across the country are overcoming the challenge of farming in isolation by taking part in on-going discussion, debates and story telling in their pocket.

Farmers Ireland, a Twitter account, was set in July 2014 and is curated by Lorna Sixsmith, author, dairy farmer and blogger, fondly known as the "Irish Fermerette".

Inspired by a similar initiative in Canada, Lorna selects a different farmer to take over the Farmers Ireland account where they can document and share their farm story. All kinds of farmers, including dairy, tillage, sheep, beef, poultry, mushroom, oyster and even snail farmers have managed the account over the last two years. Lorna says they've reaped wonderful social and educational rewards.

"The idea behind it is that a different farmer tweets from it every week and in doing so we share stories and our methods of farming and it's a way of advocating farming.

"The followers of the account are farmers from Ireland and all over the world and they are really interested in seeing different farming practices," she said.

Selected farmers are encouraged to post photos and videos of their daily routine and must presume that followers have no knowledge of their methods. "You have to take things back to basics and explain what it is that you do, some people find it easy, others find it more difficult.

Lorna encourages farmers to decide on topics in advance. "On a Monday they might decide it's introduction and to tell the history of the farm, show photogrpahs of ancestors, things like that, on Tuesday show exactly what they do as a dairy farmer this time of the year. On Wednesday they might talk about cattle prices or milk prices and the challenges of working off farm. By Thursday some might want to share a personal experience or challenge they have come up against in farming, it could be health related, safety related, it could be anything really" she said.

Some have shared stories of battles with depression. "Depression has been flagged, it's totally up to themselves but a couple of people have done it and it's getting a really good response," said Lorna.

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Farmers working abroad have also taken the reins including an Irish farmer in Dubai working on a farm with 100,000 cattle. And a young farmer harvesting on a phenomenal sized holding in the States. "They enjoy the interaction, get new followers, it can be a marketing tool but it's really about being chatty, telling our stories and letting people know how we farm" she said.

During the National Ploughing Championships Lorna is looking for three farmers to tweet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, interested parties can reach out to Lorna on Twitter.

* MACRA is back with a bang in the capital as three Dublin clubs battled it out in the first county competition of the year - bowling.

Hill 16, Treble R (Rathmines, Ranelagh, Rathgar) and North County Macra rattled the alleys of Charlestown Leisureplex last week after a long summer hiatus.

Club members and supporters were out if force as North County bowled to retain their 2015 title.

However, Hill 16 Dublin Macra beat them to the punch with a striking performance.

Pins were flying as the Hill 16 team, who had been practicing hard in recent weeks, stepped up to the lane. Lorraine Maguire, chairperson, says it’s the dream start to the new Macra year.

“It was a tight contest, North County and Treble R put up a great performace which shows the standard will be very high across all our competitions this year,” she said.

“It’s a great way to start, we are delighted with the win and we’d like to thank all team players and members for getting involved. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come for Hill 16 this year,” she said.

Dublin county will host the national finals of bowling in ALSAA, sports fitness and social association, located along  Old Airport  Road on Sunday October 2. Everyone is welcome.

Email: farming@independent.ie

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