Video: Ireland's first bio-district discussed at Kerry organic farm walk – Agriland

March 31, 2022 4:00 pm
Expressions of interest are being sought from organic farmers and producers to develop Ireland’s first bio-district.
An opportunity for farmers to come together and sell their organic produce, bio-districts have proven very popular in mainland Europe – in particular Italy.
The designated geographical area sees farmers, citizens, tourist operators, associations and public authorities enter into an agreement for the sustainable management of local resources, based on organic production.
Bio-districts reinforce local and small-volume processing and short food-supply chains. They aim to preserve local traditions and resources, and support rural development.


The potential to develop the first bio-district in Ireland – on the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry – was discussed during a farm walk yesterday (Wednesday, March 30) on the lands of Brigid O’Connor in Gleann na nGealt, Camp, Co. Kerry.
Brigid, who has been an organic hill-sheep farmer since 2010, keeps a flock of 121 Scotch ewes on 135ac overlooking the scenic Tralee Bay.
The farmer maintains a relatively low stocking rate to avoid overgrazing the upland areas of the farm.
Take a look at the organic enterprise, which Agriland visited, by clicking on the video below.

Lambs are sold from late-August to Christmas through Manna Organic food store in Tralee, a local butcher and at the annual Camp sheep fair in mid-September.
Brigid also runs an on-farm tourism business offering visitors accommodation, local produce and the chance to explore her lands through ‘The Shepherd’s Farm Walk’.
During the guided tour, Brigid explains the unique history, archaeology, biodiversity and mythology of the area.

The farm at Gleann na nGealt, which translates into ‘the valley of the mad’ due to the belief that a cure for insanity exists in a local well, has standing stones that are 5,000 years old and rare flowers such as the Kerry violet.
The farmers believe that there is very strong demand from tourists to see “the real Ireland”.

Dung beetle on Brigid O'Connor's organic farm Image Source: Aisling O'Brien
Dung beetle on Brigid O’Connor’s organic farm

Passionate about organic farming, Brigid is a strong advocate of farmers joining together to sell their produce collectively.
She believes that developing a bio-district would be a successful way to help farmers get a premium price for their products and Teagasc is now seeking expressions of interest.

Organic Farm Scheme

Meanwhile, the closing date for new applications for the Organic Farm Scheme (OFS) is Friday, April 8. Another application round is scheduled to open in October.
There are currently almost 1,800 farmers in the scheme, with total annual payments amounting to approximately €10.5 million.
Under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027, the Irish organic sector will have a budget of €256 million.
Jack Nolan, head of the organic unit at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), told the farm walk that there is “a huge push for organic farming right across Europe, not just in Ireland”.
Nolan noted that the sector is not without its challenges and paperwork, but he said that further supports and research is also being funded.
He suggested that any farmer who is considering conversion should speak to an organic producer, DAFM or organic associations for advice.

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