Leahy’s Open Farm wins sustainable living award

Donal Leahy and Teresa Leahy, who were presented with one of the 2019 RDS Spring Awards at an event in Dublin on April 24. The awards highlighted some of the best examples of sustainable farmers, foresters and farming enterprises in the country. (Picture: Orla Murray/ SON Photo)

Leahy’s Open Farm on the Tallow to Dungourney road has been named as the winner of the 2019 Talamh Sustainable Living Award for their enterprising open farm that ‘has transformed their holding from a diary and pig production to an agri-tourist model’. 

The open farm, which is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Munster, was first opened in 1996 by Eddie Leahy who previously had a large-scale piggery at the site.  

Opening the farm and his collection of vintage farm machinery to the public, as well as turning a profit from his wife Eileen’s home baking skills, the enterprise has grown from strength to strength over the past 20 years. 

Thousands of visitors

It now draws thousands of visitors from all across Ireland and further afield and provides full-time and part-time employment for a number of Eddie and Eileen’s children and grandchildren as well as a huge number of locals, which is something that their traditional farming model would have been unable to do. In this way, it is a prime example of sustainable living and innovation. 

“The Leahys’ vision and dedication has helped transform what many would see as a relatively small family farm into a thriving business that is making a difference, not just to the Leahys themselves but also to the surrounding area. They are proud to provide employment in their local area giving many young people valuable work experience and also employment to more experienced people who want to get back to work by understanding the importance of flexible hours to people with families,” Mr Tom Kirley, RDS-Talamh Awards judge said.

Eddie and Eileen’s son Donal and his wife Teresa, travelled to the RDS in Dublin on Wednesday but little did they know that they would be announced as the winners of the Sustainable Living Category. 

“One of our staff, Caitriona, applied for this award for us last year but we heard nothing until about 5 or 6 weeks ago. We got an email to say we were short listed and there were going to be two judges come and do a site visit. So we met the judges, we walked around the farm with them, chatting and telling them all about the farm. Again, we heard no more. Then, last week, myself and Donal had to go to Dublin to see a new ice cream machine, so while we were there, we decided to go to the awards ceremony in the RDS on Wednesday. We were so delighted and shocked to hear Leahy’s Open Farm being called out for winning this award,” Teresa Leahy told The AvondhuB

‘Blown Away’

The pair received the award from Minister Andrew Doyle and met with the judges after the ceremony who said that they were completely blown away by what had been done to the farm and how well kept and successful it was. 

“We are so lucky to be working with amazing people who want the best for the farm. Everyone working at Leahy’s is an absolute asset to the farm and all deserve a good pat on the back for all the hard work they put in,” said Teresa.

The aim of the RDS An Talamh Spring Awards is to recognise and rewarded farmers and woodland owners who are employing the principles of climate smart agriculture on their properties, including sound commercial management, environmental protection and the encouragement of bio-diversity.