Galway-based farming duo Fergal Anderson and Emanuela Russo of Leaf and Root Farm run a market garden in Loughrea, Co Galway, and were recent ambassadors for the Farming for Nature (FFN) project.

The couple grow a vast range of agro-ecologically produced vegetables and fruits including beets, chard, kale, radish, blackcurrants, gooseberries, loganberries, apples, plums, pears and a range of medicinal herbs.

"We try to have a constant supply year-round, which means you are constantly sowing and constantly harvesting.

"We started off down at the local markets and sold our produce through the Community Supported Agriculture scheme and now we sell mainly to restaurants," Fergal said.

FFN was set up with an aim to source, share and celebrate the stories of farmers across Ireland who manage their land in a way that sustains nature.

Valuable habitats

FFN ambassadors come from across Ireland and include beef, sheep, forestry, dairy, horticulture and tillage farmers who manage a wide range of very valuable habitats, including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows.

Fergal Anderson said that he realised he could "do good" and make a positive impact by farming, so he went on to give organic farming a try with his partner Emanuela.

Fergal and Emanuela have been working on the land for eight years, gradually building the soil and transforming the land into a productive farm that is economically and ecologically sustainable.

"The land was there at home, 25 acres is woodland and there was five acres empty.

"There's not a lot you can do with five acres of land apart from horticulture really," Fergal said.

Fair price

Fergal said that in order to make a living, you need to get a fair price for your work.

"We are not receiving any payments or subsidies from the Government," he said.

He explained how the couple aren't making the average industrial wage but are making enough "to get by".

"My partner works part-time and we don’t have a huge amount of costs, so I do think it is sustainable."

Fergal said that the work is hard, but the rewards come in different ways for them.

"Life is not all about making money. Anyone who is just doing things for the money, they will not get a real return out of that.

"Some people are trying to make as much as they can out of the land and make as much money as possible and some people are beginning to realise that this land will be here when they're gone and that they can make a difference."

Fergal emphasised again how farmers have the potential to do a huge amount of good for the environment.


"We hope to develop the woodland and maybe start developing a sort of pasture in there.

"We need to thin the woodland that's there and I would be interested in introducing animals into a silvopasture system, where you have a canopy of trees with grass underneath," he said.

In regards to the horticulture, Fergal said that they would like to expand their market and that they have "many ideas".

"There is so much you can do with the land if you are curious enough and have a grá for it," he said.


The farm is full of biodiversity. There is a stream in the woodland which has crayfish and otter in it. There are two small ponds on the farm with frogs and newts.

There are red squirrel and pine marten, foxes, hares, bats and sparrowhawks.

Fergal and Emanuela have planted natural edges around the land with hazel, hawthorn and other native trees.


Having bees on the farm has changed the couple’s stance on weeds, as they realise now how they can provide excellent forage for bees.

"Having bees really made us to look at the world a different way," Fergal said.

Fergal said that the bees are not for commercial purpose, but just to add to the biodiversity of the farm.

"We enjoy the fabulous honey ourselves too, you can't beat it," he concluded.