Thomas and Claire look for public votes in Farm Awards
A Kerry farming couple are calling on the people of the county to get behind them and give them their vote as they bid to win themselves a prestigious 'Farming For Nature' award.
Thomas and Claire O'Connor are the owners of the Manna Organic Store in Tralee and can also boast of a 25 acre farm in the Gleann na nGealt valley near Camp where they now produce vegetables, salads, wheatgrass, poultry and eggs - all of which they then sell in-store.
Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.
It's been a steep learning curve for Thomas and Claire since 2007 when Thomas, then a publican, decided to sell his pub and buy a run down piece of land on the road to West Kerry, which they have since turned into a thriving business.
Respecting and protecting the land they have purchased is the central theme of Thomas and Claire's work; they have done extensive tree planting including fruit trees and biomass while at the same time, they are keeping the ancient trees that are already there.
There is a lot of pollinator and biodiversity habitat and great attention is given to "our farm's invisible little helpers", soil biology. The same dedication and care is applied to the livestock on the farm. In their own words: "We truly believe that returning to nature and natural farming systems can only create health and vibrant environment. It can provide natural nutrient dense quality food and it can be the corner stone for future generations. Organic food and caring for the environment we live in is not just a job for us. It is our life, we live it every day: on the farm, in the shop and at home."
Such is their passion for what they do, they have opened up their farm for open days, farm visits and workshops while also holding Transition Farming and Biodiversity Education days to help share what they have learnt with others.
"It's nice because obviously it reflects on the kind of stuff we've been doing for years. Creating a good environment and good bio-diversity was number one when we took over the farm.
Secondly, being nominated, it's great because it allows you to connect with a lot of like-minded farmers from all over the country," said Thomas, speaking to The Kerryman last Thursday (26th) about their nomination.
To vote for Thomas and Claire in the 'Farming for Nature' awards, head to www.farmingfornature.ie and follow the links. Watch a full tour of Thomas and Claire's farm on 'The Kerryman' Facebook page.