Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Happening Thang

The Real Food Festival is happening again at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre from 8-10 May.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Where have all the butterflies gone?

Asks Patrick Barkham in today's Guardian. I was asking myself the exact same question yesterday morning on a stroll through the Parco Appia Antica. I saw two in a massive park brimming with spring flowers. What I did see a bit more of was somewild plant foraging by a more common species.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Orchard erosion

Sixty percent of England's traditional orchards have disappeared since the 1950s according to the National Trust with many rare varieties of fruit - some unique to localities - under threat. I am sure it is much the same story in Ireland. All the more reason for initiatives like the 400 Fruit Trees Project. For more on apple diversity and apples in Ireland read here.

Few days later....more on the vanishing orchards from the Guardian, along with some interesting links.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Welcome to Local Food Advisor

A new food website dedicated to championing local food and rare breeds was recently launched and lists the top 4000 award winning regional producers and suppliers in the UK and Ireland.

Keeping aliens out of our waterways

Restrictions on access to Lough Carra and Lough Mask are proposed in a new biosecurity plan for Lough Mask. The report was commissioned to try to protect the lakes from “alien species” that have invaded Lough Corrib. More here.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Revitalising food and agriculture

More on re-connecting with the land, and food, growing locally, the Transition Town movement, community supported agriculture here.

The Great Famine

The National Famine Commemoration Day (17th May) takes place in Skibbereen in 2009 and to commemorate this national occasion and in remembrance of those who died during the Great Famine, there is a week of Famine-related events taking place in Skibbereen from the 10th to the 17th of May. Read more here.

Monday, 20 April 2009

An apple a day to keep the climate at bay?

A few weeks back I posted on the 400 Fruit Trees project in Kilkenny. Well, I am now delighted to see that they have documented the launch of the project and edited it into a great wee video which you can watch here. The video provides some background on the Transition Town movement as well as the Fruit Trees project itself. Happy to see that they are working with the Irish Seed Savers Association to reintroduce native Irish apple varieties. Something simple that could be easily tried elsewhere with a bit of planning and enthusiasm and the right partners.

Friday, 17 April 2009

First farmers

A project studying the arrival of farming in Ireland called "Cultivating societies: assessing the evidence for agriculture in Neolithic Ireland" is being undertaken by Queen's University Belfast as part of the INSTAR Programme. The project will examine the extent, nature and timing of Neolithic farming in Ireland through the collation, integration and analysis of unpublished and published data (archaeo-botanical, zoo-archaeological, palaeo-ecological and archaeological data) from the commercial, State and academic sectors.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Supporting native breeds

During the first seven decades of the 1900s, 26 native breeds of livestock became extinct in Britain, not to mention the many varieties of poultry. Breeds such as Goonhilly ponies and Rhiw sheep will never be seen again grazing their native pastures. Since the formation of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in 1973 no native breeds have been lost! There is no government support to the RBST and most activities are funded through members, legacies and donations. To secure the continued existence and viability of the UK's native farm animal genetic resources the Trust launched the Rare Breeds National ReGENEration Appeal and are half way to their target of 2.5 million pounds. Their aim is to collect semen from 25 males from each of the domestic farm species currently listed by the RBST, to represent the widest genetic diversity available in the current population. Of the semen collected 55% goes into a permanent national archive stored by the Trust, 30% is stored for use in conservation breeding programmes and 15% is available to livestock owners and stored, free of charge, by the Trust.

Poached meat

Seems the economic downturn and rising price of meat are contributing to a rise in rustling. Last month , 500 pigs were stolen from a Staffordshire farm while a farm in Lincolnshire lost nine rare breed cattle.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Bioversity indicators to go

An updated overview of the 18 biodiversity indicators for the UK, including up north, was published this month. The indicators include the population status of: key species; plant diversity; the status of priority species, habitats and ecosystems; genetic diversity of rare breeds of sheep and cattle; protected sites; management of woodland agricultural land and fisheries; impacts of air pollution and invasive species; expenditure on biodiversity; and the amount of time given by volunteers to nature conservation activities. While there is an assessment of the level of genetic diversity of native livestock breeds, there is no similar measure for native landraces. Seeing the status of native livestock breeds reminded me to post on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust Watchlist which i came across in my current copy of The Ark, and which includes our very own vulnerable Irish Moiled.

Can't seem to find an equivalent list for down south.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Everything's vine

The Irish government has commended Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, for the success of its new yam propagation technique that uses vine cuttings instead of the traditional tuber seeds. The Irish government, through its Irish Aid programme, provides support to research funding to IITA to help advance the institutes work on providing solutions to hunger and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.This funding is part of a larger commitment to the work of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, which is a central component of Irish Aids response to the growing global food crisis. Read more.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Future proofing a town near you

Future Proof Kilkenny has an interesting site and is part of the Transition Town movement, a growing network of cities, towns and villages around the world who are facing up to the challenges of peak oil and climate change and responding with creative community led initiatives. I have only skimmed but there is much of interest. Especially interesting is Kilkenny’s 400 Fruit Tree project which will mark the 400th Anniversary of the Signing of the City Charter by planting 400 native and heritage varieties of Apple, Pear, Plum and Cherry throughout the city and environs during 2009. Just wish they were more explicit about diversifying the food base among their aims but thankful that agrobiodiversity is rightly recognised as part of the strategy in tackling climate change. Great idea though, need more like it, making sure agrobiodiversity is mainstreamed in community initiatives to climate change, both in the global north and south!