Westmeath farmer wins RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award
The RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award category aims to recognise excellence in sustainable use of land that incorporates both farming and forestry through the successful adoption of a whole farm planning approach.
Gerard Deegan, from Cloghan, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath was presented with the RDS Farm Forestry Award in Dublin today Wednesday 24 April. Gerard Deegan, the highly deserving winner of this category received the award from Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc Director. The RDS Farm Forestry Award is part of the 2019 RDS Spring Awards ceremony.
Gerard Deegan successfully combines an organic calf to beef enterprise and poultry farming with an integrated forest enterprise on his farm at Cloghan, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. Gerard has also recently commenced a very rewarding involvement with a local social farming initiative.
The RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award category aims to recognise excellence in sustainable use of land that incorporates both farming and forestry through the successful adoption of a whole farm planning approach. Congratulating Gerard Deegan, Professor Boyle highlighted how the award recognises working farmers who have integrated forestry with their farming enterprises for environmental, economic and social sustainability. The award also acknowledges Gerard’s role in actively managing his farm forest to optimise the economic and environmental contribution to the farm’. Professor Boyle added: ‘Teagasc will continue to support the RDS Forestry and Woodland Awards and encourage farm forest owners to become involved in this very worthwhile competition which will open for this year’s applications shortly’.
Accepting the award Gerard Deegan, said he was ‘privileged to accept the RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award and will enjoy it. Forestry has allowed me to breathe again’. The Royal Dublin Society has been continually involved in the promotion of Irish forestry which has a history going back as far as the 1740’s. Brendan Fitzsimmons, Chair of the RDS Agricultural Committee, thanked Teagasc for their ongoing support of the Farm Forestry Award Category. He said he was particularly pleased with the ‘high quality of applicants in this year’s award categories’.
In highlighting the benefits of farm forestry at the Awards ceremony, Liam Kelly, Teagasc Forestry Advisor highlighted how the effective integration of forestry into agricultural enterprises presents opportunities for farming families and the communities in which they live to achieve and optimise the many economic, environmental, practical and social benefits that can accrue.
Teagasc Forestry Advisor Noel Kennedy also commented on how well planned and actively managed forests and woodlands can complement other farming systems. Since 1980, almost 22,000 private forest owners have received grant aid to establish forests and 83% of forests established have been planted by farmers. Noel Kennedy added: ‘Teagasc provides integrated forestry research, advice, training and education to support forest owners in adding value to and optimising their farm forest resource. Teagasc are also working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as well as the wider forest industry in actively promoting forestry as a sustainable and attractive enterprise that can be integrated on many farms.’