David Sandford is Chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network in Northern Ireland. Below he talks about what they have been up to recently to spread the messages about wildlife friendly farming.

“Formed at the beginning of 2018, the Nature Friendly Farming Network aims to unite farmers from across the UK who are passionate about nature, wildlife and sustainable farming. Our aim is to champion a nature way of farming to policymakers, raise awareness of nature friendly farming to the public, and share insights and experience with other farmers. As Chair of the Network in Northern Ireland, its been a very busy few months with growing interest and support for the organisation across the country.

In March we took to the halls of Stormont to demonstrate to decision makers the value of nature friendly farming in NI. We highlighted the key role that sustainable farming can play in helping to produce high quality, healthy food which also benefits the environment. We made the case for change, urging the need to transition towards more sustainable farming practises. The event generated a huge amount of interest with 42 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in attendance. We had a fantastic range of speakers, including politicians, farmers and local chefs. However, the highlight for me was the speech from a group of young campaigners from Down Highschool, who were reporting the findings of research they undertook on the benefits of nature friendly farming practices on pollinators. All in all, it was heartening to see such an interest in the network from a political audience.

In May we took part in NI’s largest agricultural event, the Balmoral Show. Here we were granted an excellent opportunity to engage with the public and other farmers about our work. This was a great success, with many people sharing their love of nature and support for nature friendly farming: young and old; farmers and members of the public alike. It’s always inspiring to be able to share your passion with others and to hear the desire for a vibrant countryside where nature thrives!”