KNOW YOUR FARMER, KNOW YOUR FOOD
We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” – Wendell Berry
American girl meets Irish carpenter and a winding path leads these two millennials back to the land
Seeking a life's work as well as a lifestyle, we (Owen and Mimi) are working to revitalise our family farm into a diverse haven supporting natural food production. The small 28-acre farm nestled in the fertile land of north Tipperary, that we now call home was generously passed down from Owen's grandfather, to his mother, and then in 2014 Owen decided to transition from his carpentry work and I scaled down my environmental consulting, so that we could become farmers and foodies. Together, we have built Crawford's Farm out of a desire to live well, eat well, connect with nature, put our ideals into practice, and ultimately to contribute positively to the world food and farming systems.
We hold a strong belief that small farms play a vital role in carrying on food tradition in Ireland, and that a seasonal, natural, diverse and transparent style of farming not only brings about a lost connection between consumers and food producers, but also returns the flavour and nutrition to the products produced on the farm. Overall, our goal at Crawford's Farm is to produce traditional, wholesome, organic foods that we feel good about feeding to ourselves, our families and our neighbours – food that is raised consciously, ethically and according to nature's brilliant design.
On the farm we wear many hats. We are the owners, directors, farm labourers, delivery drivers, butter makers, cow brushers, marketers, , builders, mechanics, book keepers, photographers (albeit pretty poor ones a lot of the time), dog walkers, and more.
No matter what the role though, at the heart of everything we do is a deep appreciation for our reliance on the natural world and our community of customers, and an understanding that as young farmers forging an innovative path through the farming world in Ireland, we always have more to learn. The fact that our system and processes are far from perfect, mean that we can strive to be better each day at having a lower overall environmental impact, enhancing our rural community and producing excellent food.
Thanks for joining us on our journey!
Small but mightily diverse
While these days Crawford's Farm has a small bit more mechanisation and technological innovation than in generations past, it still maintains its' quaint charm and diversity of small farm enterprises. We are constantly working on diversification rather than specialisation, and a visitor to our farm today could be forgiven for mistaking it for a farmstead from yesteryear. A place where small herds of traditional grazing cattle produce milk that is turned into cream and butter, pigs enjoy home-grown rolled oats soaked in skim milk, poultry roam freely after the cattle herd, the kitchen garden supplies an abundance of fresh veggies, and the farm dogs and cats (attempt to) keep everyone in line.
Our belief in diversity and an interconnected, holistic way of farming that emulates nature and rejuvenates land, means that we work diligently to ensure the farm provides a natural habitat where both our animals and all the native critters and creatures can thrive. From the birds, insects, frogs and soil microbes to the pastures of mixed grasses, herbs and forbs, and from the long established hedgerows and trees to the annual garden flowers and the newly planted fruit, nut and coppice woodlands - everything works in harmony to help build a farm where pastures sequester carbon, the best forage is produced for all the various animals, the surrounding rural community is nourished, and the long-term viability of the farm is ensured.
The entire farm is certified organic by the Organic Trust.
Our Farming Season
A natural approach
Our seasonal approach to farming harkens back to the natural reproductive cycles of undomesticated animals. In wild species, seasonal changes in day length induce seasonal breeding, to ensure that par nutrition synchronises with nutrient availability (ie that birth happens when there is plenty of food for both mama and baby to eat). For most species, this means the natural birthing time is during the spring and early summer when the grass and herbs are rich, the flowers are blooming, early seeds are abundant, the soil is alive, and new mamas and babies can benefit most from the rich foods and brilliant sunshine.
We fully embrace this seasonality and we do not produce over the winter months. Resting during the winter season increases the health of the animals, the planet and us as farmers, and it brings about a deeper connection to, and appreciation of the natural, cyclic rhythms. It also means the products we produce during their appropriate seasons are the most flavourful and nutrient dense. Any freshly frozen meat stays available from the freezer during this time, but we do not have dairy available between early December and early March each year.
A scalable, regenerative model for the future of animal farming.
Here at Crawford's Farm we love the natural world and we love the world of food. As Ireland's original commercial, organic raw micro-dairy, and a very diverse small-scale farm, our mission is to help demonstrate for other farmers and consumers that integrating humane animal husbandry with environmental stewardship to produce healthy foods for our communities is not only a viable, fulfilling possibility, but a necessity.
By utilising natural rhythms, diverse species rotations and symbiotic relationships that best mimic the interconnected model of the natural world, (and by supporting producers who operate holistically) we can all work toward returning the life to the soil, the compassion and conservation to the farming system, the flavour and nutrition to the products that come from the land, and the overall well-being of the people, the animals, the wildlife and the planet.
Because we are so in intimately connected with the production of animal protein products, we recognise more than anyone that the rise in daily processed meat and dairy consumption and the demand for cheap animal protein has spurred the demise of animal welfare, the decline in human health and the degradation of the natural environment. We would be the first to advocate that the western world in which we reside, should be eating fewer animal products of higher quality.
There is still scope to work within the farming system as it currently exists to try to make it better. Grasslands and woodlands evolved with large herds of wild, grazing ruminants, wild boars and many avian species. When managed appropriately and sized proportionately, high welfare animal farming can pay homage to this wild past while still contributing positively to the food system by utilising domesticated animals to upcycle the energy from the sun that is produced by forages.
As a guiding principle what is best for the environment is best for the animals, and ultimately, what is best for the environment and the animals is best for the farmers and the consumers. If we fully embrace this concept then we start to focus first and foremost on the soils and (quite literally) build our farming systems from the ground up. We are trying our best to help our small farm to have a big positive impact.