Welcome to Harmony Farm’s website,
We live on a 12 acre smallholding in the West of Ireland since 2003.
Our ethos is “farming in harmony with nature” and one of our main aims is to create more wildlife areas and attract as many native species as possible to share the land of which we are custodians, while producing enough nutritious food to feed the family, and to serve to our friends and at our courses. We practice “enlightened agricultural” methods (term coined by Colin Tudge), meaning that we do not use chemicals unless it is absolutely necessary (such as drugs to control liver fluke in our animals).
When we bought our smallholding in 2003, the seven acres were laid out in one, large improved grassland of about 5 acres, the rest being the house and a chunk of scrub dominated by gorse, willows and bramble. The grassland occupied sloping land of clay soil, with upwelling water in places. It was disappointingly devoid of biodiversity, and it was intensively grazed by cattle.
We started off with planting over a hundered trees (and have done so every year) and fenced the perimeter so that stock from the neighbouring holdings could not come and visit so often…
In 2008 we increased the size of our holding, primarily to add some fields which were suitable for hay production (and which were flat enough to be used for putting up jumps for the ponies…), as our original land was too steep for mowing machinery. The additional five acres provided two acres of meadow and another acre of pasture, with a half-acre scrub patch which was cleared, “liberating” some nice alder and ash trees and allowing for planting another 60 young sapling trees. The rest was lovely secondary woodland with fabulous ground flora, used by woodcock, sparrowhawk, badgers, deer, pine martins and other species.
At present we have two ponies, six Shetland ewes and their followers, four goats (two Saanens, an Alpine and a BoerxSaanen cross) and a motley collection of poultry.
These animals help us to maintain a complex ecosystem on the farm, by taking part in a carefully coreographed ballet around the land. Each animal group has it’s own needs which in turn depend on or complement the requirements of others. For example, the sheep or goats will pre-graze the land for the ponies (so that they do not over-eat and get sick), who in turn hoover up the eggs of the internal parasites of the ruminants, cleaning the pastures for them. Grazing animals are also employed to maintain the vegetation under the trees to balance competition between the trees and the understorey vegetation, and to create a sward suitable for the poultry to feed on afterwards in the orchard. Poultry also follow grazing beasts to “sanitise” the pastures and to fertilise the sward, yet again doing an important job in the complex system.
We run a large vegetable garden, a polytunnel (“Mum’s sanctuary”), a fruit cage and a large but young orchard. We manage part of our woodland to provide enough firewood for our stove, while the older woodland is maintained mainly as a sanctuary.
Cancer is an illness which affected our family. This year we added courses on cancer fighting food, to help participants prevent and fight this illness, which touches so many people’s lives.
We love good food and take great pride in producing it, and are passionate in sharing the methods of production and cooking with our family, friends and guests at our courses, aiming to serve gourmet food which is health promoting and environmentally friendly.
We hope you will enjoy browsing our website and maybe we can welcome you to one of our courses sometime.
Best wishes from