Ailbhe Gerrard of Brookfield Farm took home the Sustainable Farming award in the RDS on Wednesday afternoon.
The Gurteen and LIT lecturer impressed the judges with the diverse range of enterprises on her farm and the manner in which she integrated each in an environmentally and socially friendly way.
The productivity of the enterprise also impressed the judging panel, with the enterprise turning over €3,000/ha
Brookfield Farm runs an organic sheep flock, tillage and forestry as well as bees. The farm also facilitates farm tours during the summer months and produces apple juice from the orchard on the farm. The productivity of the enterprise also impressed the judging panel, with the enterprise turning over €3,000/ha. Judging for the event took place in March, with the deliberation process taking up to a month.
Speaking with the Irish Farmers Journal after the event, Gerrard noted that while she had low expectations, she was overwhelmed by the award.
“I was not confident at all going to the event. I was happy to be nominated and saw it as a day out,” she remarked.
“It is wonderful when I heard our name called out. An award like this keeps you on the right track. There is a lot to a diverse enterprise like this. There is the forestry side of things during the winter, lambing in spring, tillage and farm tours in summer. There is little downtime.”
The former Nuffield scholar bought the holding eight years ago and in that time has invested in the farm, bringing it to its current standard and she is quick to acknowledge the help she has received.