Regina Blunden talks with Eamon Sheehan on CRKC 88.7fm
20 Tirlán dairy farmers are making their mark as the inaugural cohort of farm family suppliers to graduate from the Tirlán and Baileys Sustainable Farming Academy.
This is the first Sustainable Farming Academy class to graduate with their Diploma in Environment, Sustainability and Climate from University College Cork, which was designed to provide them with the most up-to-date knowledge, skills and know-how needed to farm even more sustainably into the future. Among the graduates is Kilkenny man, Eamon Sheehan, who farms in Cuffesgrange.
The year-long, intensive programme supports farm families’ positive environmental actions and empowers the Tirlán family farm milk suppliers with the most relevant and up-to-date support to continue to address sustainability challenges. The Academy is also aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Academic partner, University College Cork, delivered the accredited and fully-funded Level 7 Diploma.
Modules studied included Earth Science, Climate Change and Sustainable Development as well as Ecology, Applied Geographical Information Systems, Environmental Protection and Practical Environmental Management.
Darren Barcoe, Head of Global Sales at Tirlán congratulated the first cohort of graduates and said: “The sustainability landscape continues to evolve, on-farm, in our Co-op and in the market place. Our farm family suppliers that are graduating with their Diplomas once again demonstrate the willingness of our suppliers to adopt to the sustainability challenges. We’re proud to support Irish farming communities in addressing environmental, economic and social challenges. Our farm families remain committed to their on-farm sustainability journey, as part of our Co-op wide Living Proof sustainability strategy.
“Our long-established strategic partnership with Baileys has always centred on working closely together to ensure we deliver a world-class product and service and we’re delighted to see an eager group of new undergraduates enhance their sustainability journey and begin their studies with us.”
Robert Murphy, Global Supply Director for Baileys, said: “We’re proud Tirlán partners since 1974 and it makes sense that we would work together to upskill and educate farmers in sustainable farming practices, so that together we can drive positive change and shape the future of farming in Ireland. We believe the Sustainable Farming Academy can drive fundamental changes in farming practices and we are immensely proud to support this initiative and to acknowledge this first class of graduates. Together, we are working for change.”
Belinda Gascoigne, ACE Centre Manager and Programme Director for UCC, said: “We are proud to partner with Tirlán and Baileys to support the Irish farming community and empower them on their sustainability journey. A unique aspect of this programme was that the ACE at UCC team undertook an RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) process which evaluates the students’ existing knowledge and experience and as a result, Tirlán Co-op members were granted exemptions towards the Diploma. This allowed them to graduate with a Diploma in a way that best matched their needs and interests, and enabled them to continue to meet their full-time, on-farm responsibilities.”
Graduate, Amanda Mooney, described the experience as extraordinary, adding: “It was great to learn not only from the lecturers but from my peers. It’s quite remarkable how you can have 20 different people doing the same thing but all a little bit different, yet all achieving the best they can on their family farms. I’ve learnt a lot from the course and the real serious issues we have. I can do small things to help and if we all do our little bit, it will make a big difference.”
Eamon Sheehan said graduating from the Sustainable Farming Academy gave him a strong educational grounding. “There is a great sense of achievement, a greater grounding and education in environmental sustainability. It’s an area we would always have been very passionate about at home on our farm. It’s great to now have an educated opinion going forward.”
A new cohort of 20 students has joined since September this year and will follow in their footsteps with their year-long studies also tailored to fit in with each farmer’s full-time, on-farm responsibilities.