Early on in my farming days, I sought support from some rural women’s support groups. In fact, I became involved with one for the time and I loved helping to arrange the meetings, meeting new folks and the comradery of friends who understood the type of lifestyle I was leading.
You must remember, I had been working full time out of the home all my working life. When we shuffled things around and I became the stay-at-home farmer, I’d had no idea what to expect! I was hopelessly unskilled and inexperienced. I had a hell of a lot to learn. And on top of that, I found it incredibly lonely being on the farm – sheep aren’t much for conversation you see.
With my involvement in the groups, I met so many wonderful new people: women who were at the top of their game, who excelled in their practices and who were patient when dealing with a novice farmer like myself. Best of all though, I made some wonderful new friends. Suzanna Crampton is one of those aforementioned wonderful women.
Originally from New York, Suzanna farms not too far from me in her ancestral home of County Kilkenny. She has a twelve-acre holding that she has nurtured over the years to create a rich collection of diverse habitats. Flora and fauna abound. Working hand in hand with the land, she has brought nature and farming together, to the benefit of both.
Of course, it’s not 'just sheep’ on her Bennet’s Bridge farm: she is an acclaimed author and she speaks publicly about her farming practices. She designs award-winning blankets from her own wool. She runs ZwartblesIreland.com and all of its associated (and very successful) social media channels. On top of all that, she has a whole menagerie of other animals too. She is extremely passionate about the whole area of regenerative farming and in 2020, she was awarded the role of Farming for Nature Honorary Ambassador.
"Farming for Nature: Working with farmers to enhance the natural health of the countryside"
Founded in 2018, the group Farming for Nature aims to work along side farmers to improve the overall health of the countryside. Afterall, we farmers are the custodians of the land. We are the ‘boots on the ground’ and it is us who tend the fields, the soil below and the hedgerows in between.
“Farming for Nature is a non-profit initiative whose mission is to support, encourage and inspire farmers who farm, or who wish to farm, in a way that will improve the natural health of our countryside.”
We applied to the ‘Horse’s Mouth’ programme, which is a mentorship between farmer’s and advisors from the Farming for Nature organisation. Of course, knowing that Suzanna is one of the mentors, I put in a special request for her to visit us! Having had the opportunity to visit her in Kilkenny, I’m looking forward to showing her around here.
There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing but we eventually managed to find a day that would suit for Suzanna to come and visit. I’m getting excited now because it’s imminent! I’m watching the weather forecast and it looks like we’ll have a nice day. Everything is still lush and green and full of life.
I’m also looking forward to a cup of tea and a good chat with my friend.
I’ll keep you guys posted.