One Cauldron: How can Nature and Farming Exist Together?


Join the Acorn Project on Saturday morning, at the Sustainable Hub, for a series of conversations with panelists of farmers and organisations who will share their stories and experience in working towards a shared vision of how we can create healthy food and farming systems in which nature can thrive and co-exist. Split in to four talks across the morning, audiences will be able to engage with and learn from experts, researchers, and local farmers. 

 How can nature and farming exist together?

10am  The Importance of Soil and Regenerative Farming for Sustainable Food Systems and Climate Action – Suzanna Crampton and Dr. Fiona MacGowan 
11am  Seed Sovereignty and Food Systems for the Future. Why the transmission of skills and knowledge can support food security – Kitty Scully from Organic Growers of Ireland (OGI), Monica Fleming , seed saver and Community Gardner, Maura Brennan from The Acorn Project.
12pm A Vision for Forests into the Future. How can we organise our food systems to support an agroecological model? 

Michael Somers from Teagasc,Manus Crowley forester and ecologist, Maura Brennan from The Acorn Project.

1pm  Meet the Growers: Climate Action , Food Security and supporting local growers. 

Meet local farmers who are using sustainable practices to create market gardens and support biodiversity on their farms.

Fintan White from Wooly Farm, Shane Hatton from Bosco’s Garden and Janet Power from Gorse Farm.

The Acorn Project is a non-profit organisation delivering nature-based learning, wellbeing and training programmes that empower communities to take action in ecological restoration through reconnection with their local woodlands and wild spaces through community seed saving, forest school, nature connection and sharing of traditional skills.

The Sustainable Hub will host talks and discussions across Savour weekend. Located on The Parade, at the heart of the festival, the Sustainable Hub is free to attend, just come along on the day! 

Introducing the Speakers:

Michael Somers is from Kilkenny. After graduation from UCD in 2003 he worked with the Dept of Agriculture (Forest Service) on the National Forest Inventory. He has spent the past 17 years working as a forest development officer in Teagasc in Counties Limerick, Tipperary, Clare and Kilkenny. He has been heavely involved in setting up forest owner growers groups, forest education and promoting different communication strategies in Knowledge Transfer. He was also Artistic Director or the Teagasc Farming and Country life event in Athenry in 2016 and was awarded Kilkenny Person of the Year for Rural Development in 2018.

Bosco’s Garden is a small regenerative farm and market garden established in 2020 just outside Kilkenny City. We grow vegetables, salad greens, herbs, teas, fruit and nuts using no-dig permaculture techniques, working with nature to create a balanced farm ecology. We supply local restaurants with our produce and run a busy farm shop on Fridays, right beside the garden where all the food is grown. To follow our journey you can join us on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook where we give detailed insight on our growing methods.

Kitty Scully is a well-known organic gardener and local food advocate in Ireland. Growing up on a mixed organic farm in Co Laois, she picked up a love of eating and growing good food at a young age. She nurtured this through travelling the world working on organic farms and studying. An MSc in Organic Horticulture is her highest paper accolade but her practical achievements go far beyond. Kitty has had a diverse career in organic horticulture, from managing a market garden for nuns, spearheading the organic conversion of Airfield’s Estate food gardens and to writing for national papers and presenting on TV gardening shows. Kitty is a natural communicator who regularly gives talks, lectures and teaches workshops on food growing using organic methods. She has recently returned to her native county after indulging her passion for travel and continued learning on a one-year Regenerative Farm study trip in Colombia. She is currently restoring a 2-acre walled garden for organic fruit and veg production using regenerative practices. She also co-ordinates the Organic Growers of Ireland’s Small Growers Network. Kitty’s energy and enthusiasm for growing, learning and talking about all things soil based is endless.

Gorse Farm is a small farm located just outside the town of Bunclody, Co.Wexford. Established by Jenny Watkins and Janet Power in 2016 the farm produces a range of certified organic leaves which can be found in Supervalu’s across Wexford. Our approach to farming is based upon working with nature to create healthy soil, which in turn produces healthy crops. We pride ourselves on being custodians of the land and since we began this journey we have enjoyed watching nature flourish in response to planting numerous native trees and hedgerows.

Fintan White.  I am a part time agricultural consultant and a full time farmer. Our family farm is a hive of activity, it is run by myself and My father Willie as well as Alan who works on the farm and plenty of other pairs of hands both family and beyond that come to help at the busy times of the year. Our farm is a mixed organic farm, we have 300 breeding ewes, beef cattle, cereal crops both for feeding home stock and for sale as organic oats to Flahavan’s, I also have a horticultural enterprise where I grow a wide range of vegetables on a market garden scale along which along with a flock of 30 hens living in a mobile hen house I supply eggs and vegetables to people in the locality through a box scheme also known as a CSA (community supported agriculture). I am 28 years old and I am proud to be a young farmer. My upbringing and education have been very much centred in the world of agriculture. I studied Animal and Crop Production at undergraduate level at UCD before complete my MSc in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in NUIG. After being inspired by many other farmers I have developed a love for farming systems and in particular organic farming. I am fascinated by the interactions both large and small that take place on the farm and the role we as farmers can have in striving to create an ecosystem where crops, vegetables, animals, flora and fauna can all flourish in harmony. I once heard the word sustainability in the farming context defined as a farm in which good quality food is being produced, with a fair return of income and fair level of labour while having a positive impact on the environment. Not an easy task but it gives us something to strive towards.

Maura Brennan is founder of the Acorn Project . The Acorn Project is a community seedsaving project that  creates nature based programmes for learning and wellbeing that connect communities to natureso that we may take action as communities in forest resoration. After a visit to an ancient Oak woodland in Scotland in 2017 , Maura founded the Acorn Project and has been working  with communities, organisations and landowners  along the River Nore  towards creating  a shared vision of forest restoration.

She loves to work in collaboration with communities, organisations, schools , landowners and farmers,  artists and individuals. She has recently travelled to the Greek island of Kea to learn how to make acorn flour and research how oak trees form part of a agroforestry model on the island.

Manus Crowley is a forestry consultant and ecologist with his own company Enfor Ltd. His work is varied and covers ecological assessment and reporting, new woodland creation, timber harvesting and native woodland conservation and establishment. He is particularly interested in Continuous Cover Forestry management which is an alterative forestry management system. Manus has over 16 years of experience in the forestry sector in Ireland.

His work is primarily involved with private landowners and farmers as well as state forestry organisations including the Forest Service and Coillte.

Manus is currently vice-chair of ProSilva Ireland who are actively involved in the promotion and development of CCF in Ireland.

Suzanna Crampton has had a long and varied career including founding the Wildlife Information Network originally based at London Zoo and later at the Royal Veterinary College in London. She studied & worked in South East Asia before succumbing to illness and spent time in the Royal Free Tropical Diseases Hospital. She is the co-founder of Regenerative Farming Ireland and advocates for women who farm. She raises Zwartbles sheep on her family farm, selling the wool for her designer blankets, breeding for sale, and for meat. She teaches photography, and writes books. She is an international speaker & broadcaster on various aspects of regenerative pastural farming including agroforestry.

Monica Fleming works in a Wildflower nursery also as a horticultural tutor to community groups. She is also a member of the Kilkenny Fruit Tree project and tutor of the Gardening with Nature Project. She is constantly amazed by the benefits of nature and how working in nature brings out the best in everyone.