Behind Brookfield Farm is Ailbhe Gerrard, a certified organic farmer, and an educator with a deep interest in farming as a holistic, regenerative activity.
Agricultural research and practice is an ongoing interest for Ailbhe. She has a Master of Science degree in Organic Farming from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London.
Ailbhe’s farming responsibilities now include managing: an organically certified sheep enterprise; a native woodland and a broadleaf plantation, beehives producing honey for farm diversification, tillage crops, GLAS agri-environment measures including arable margins, bee boxes, bird boxes, bat boxes, wild bird cover.
An important part of the success of the farm is sustainable agriculture research and planning. In 2016 Ailbhe applied and was awarded the Nuffield Agricultural Scholar 2016. Her research report focused on adding value to farm produce and reaching customers directly.
Ailbhe was also awarded a scholarship on the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Organic Agriculture Leader Development Programme 2015 and the Masterclass programme 2017. The OLC offers a place to soak in knowledge on Organic Agriculture and hone holistic leadership skills in an interactive environment. Providing 150 hours of intensive training in a class of 20 to 26 participants, OLCs are organized in nearly all world regions, each with locally relevant content put into international perspective. You can read more about their organic leaderships courses here.
And more recently Brookfield Farm became the first winner of the RDS Sustainable Farming, Sustainable Living Awards 2019. The RDS introduced this new category for 2019 focused on sustainable living and farming practices. This award celebrates the efforts made by an individual or farm family who are adding value to their on-farm activities through entrepreneurship, new product development, and marketing.
Over the years Ailbhe has been selected for Acorns, the Rural female entrepreneur programme 2015 & 2016 & 2018. As well as consistent media interest includes features and articles in national press and radio, including; Farmer’s Journal, Irish Country Magazine, Irish Times, Image Interiors and Living. For a full listing of media coverage you can check out our Media Section.
Click below to view & read recent reports by Ailbhe:
Diversity of Urban Agriculture in Britain: The relevance of some international experiences in improving resilience- 2017
- Farms Selling Direct to Consumer: Adding value - farm to consumer direct sales, short food chains - 2014
- Agriculture and provision of public goods: How helpful is sustainability assessment using a structured tool to a farmer in terms of developing actions to improve sustainability? - 2009
TEACHING & COURSE DEVELOPMENT
Ailbhe is experienced in course development and teaching third level students. She lectures at Gurteen Agricultural College on several courses, with a range of institutional partners including Teagasc Athlone Institute, and LIT.
Gurteen Agricultural College have consistently invited Ailbhe to teach agriculture courses since 2015, including:
- Agriculture Certificate Dairy and Drystock Level 5-6 Topics: Farm Business planning for Teagasc verified courses.
- Equine Business Studies Level 7 Topics: Computer Applications and Learning Skills with Athlone Institute.
- Environment and Agriculture BSc. Level 7/8 Semester modules: Key Issues in Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture in association with LIT.
The Environment and Agriculture BSc. course was written and developed by Ailbhe based on a course outline provided by LIT and was delivered over 200 hours in each of the past two years.
Ailbhe has also written and developed a five day foundation course in Regenerative Agriculture for IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) and was a co-tutor on the first course in February 2019.
Regenerative Agriculture course topics include:
- History, definition, and principles of regenerative agriculture
- Regenerative agriculture practice
- Integrated farming, cropping, and livestock.
- Farm design and management
- Farm to Fork: market and food systems
- Support networks and structures
- Regenerative agriculture in the world of regulation and policy
As a contractor teaching the various courses above with Gurteen and IFOAM, Ailbhe understands and has met the requirements to meet QQI standards for courses from Level 5 to Level 8. This includes writing content based on course outline provided and delivery of 200 hours of teaching time for Level 7 and Level 8 courses.