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Dublin ZooAgri Aware

Meet the Farmer in the City and Patrons day, July 2nd and 3rd.

Hi there! Steph and Éadaoin back again after another busy weekend.

There was plenty of activity around Family Farm on Saturday, 2 July 2016, despite the rain! The day got off to a great start with the milking demonstration at 11.15am, with Louise the zookeeper and Áine our Holstein Friesian dairy cow. Louise explained to visitors how Áine produces a massive 20 litres of milk per day!

Afterwards, on our Family Farm tour, the crowd learned why farmers use the ear tagging system. We also explained the importance of traceability and how the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) supplies this by policies on food labelling of EU produce. There was much excitement on the tour approaching the pigs as seven little piglets were born just a few days before. Visitors were very lucky as they were the very first people to be introduced to the new piglets.

Agri Aware’s ‘Meet the Farmer in the City’ on Family Farm, farmer Donie Anderson, visited Family Farm as well. Donie is a sheep and tillage farmer from Tallaght, County Dublin. Throughout the day, Donie led farm tours and showed visitors to Family Farm at Dublin Zoo how to make hay ropes. He had many little volunteers helping him out! Hay rope making is an old tradition in rural Ireland. Donie explained to all the visitors at Family Farm how hay ropes were made back in the day, before twine was invented. Once the rope was made there was even a few games of Tug of War! Donie decorated the fences of our Incredible Edibles garden with the rope, to really give Family Farm a more rural feel.

Donie informed members of the public on some of the important aspects of CAP like GLAS, which stands for Green, Low-carbon, Agri-environment Scheme, which is part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme. GLAS encourages farmers to be environmentally friendly by providing them with annual payments of up to €5,000 when they undertake environmental actions. Donie also mentioned how Areas of Natural Constraint, which are disadvantaged areas, receive support from CAP. Donie was great at communicating how CAP ensures a decent standard of living for farmers, develops rural areas, provides a safe and stable supply of food at an affordable price for consumers and ensures sustainable management of our natural resources. Donie also brought along a bag of wool from one of his sheep he had shorn and explained to visitors of Family Farm how sheep skin secretes an oily substance called lanolin which makes the fleece waterproof.

Sunday, 3 July 2016 was Agri Aware’s Patrons Day at Family Farm, Dublin Zoo. It was a chance for all of Agri Aware’s 70 plus Patrons and their families to attend Family Farm to see the many activities and events which take place in family Farm over the summer months to educate and promote agriculture and food production. To celebrate all things farming related there was a live band playing on the balcony of Haughton House, face painting by the Wishing Chair, spinning by the sheep pen and shearing and also lots of delicious quality food produce from some of Agri Aware’s Patrons. Visitors had a chance to sample grass-fed Irish dairy including milk and cheese, yoghurts and ice cream as well as fresh, local strawberries. It’s safe to say there was something for everyone to enjoy!

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As Agri Aware’s Young Farmers, we greeted guests at the zoo entrance and accompanied them to the Family Farmhouse, where Richard Moeran (Chairman of Agri Aware) and Leo Oosterweghal (Director of Dublin Zoo) welcomed Patrons with an opening speech.

Godfrey Potterton, Agri Aware’s ‘Meet the Farmer in the City’ from County Kildare, carried out farm tours, teaching members of the public about the importance of CAP, with particular attention to animal welfare on the farm. This includes animal tagging to ensure that the consumer can trace back their produce to the farm at which it was produced.

Godfrey explained the need to shear sheep coming into the summer months to prevent things such as fly strike and over-heating.

Accompanying the sheep shearing, was wool spinning demonstration, carried out by Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (IGWSD). They demonstrated the traditional method of spinning yarn for clothing and bedding and the importance of the trade itself. CAP helps to ensure the development of rural areas and with demonstrations like these visitors grow an appreciation for some of the more rural traditions in Ireland.

There was also plenty of fun, interesting pollination activities and information signs in the Family Farm garden. Did you know bees are fundamental for the development of pollinating crops in Ireland? These include apples strawberries, raspberries and many native plant species. Through CAP, an incentive called, The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan was devised to protect these insects by creating strict regulations for the use of pesticides in crop production. Through these measures, we hope to create a friendlier environment for our pollinators to keep balance within our ecosystem, thus CAP creates a place for biodiversity and food security.

It was a successful weekend at Family Farm and visitors really seemed to enjoy themselves. It was wonderful to see such a great turn out. As Young Farmers, we cannot wait until next weekend for our next event where will have another opportunity to educate the public on CAP.

Really looking forward to it and hope to see you there!

Stephanie and Éadaoin.