author, organic pioneer, changemaker
*stacking shelves then changing course
*facing The Wall in Alice Springs
*finding yourself, choosing your path
*cause and effect
*writing to explore oneself
*transcending the division between ego and soul to find your *consciousness
*self-acceptance for courage to change
*following relationship, not objective
*communication, appreciation, confidence
*recognising and facing your own past and prejudices
*challenge catalysing cultural progression
*returning to the derelict farm (Oisin moment)
Introducing Michael Hickey
Michael runs a 100-acre organic farm in New Inn, Co.Tipperary where he manages half the farm for tillage and the rest for his herd of 40 Aberdeen Angus and horses. The farm has a variety of habitats including seasonally flooded grasslands, fen areas, pastures and meadows. Michael manages his field boundaries as habitats and is a good example of someone who has spent the time looking to see what management practices best suits each habitat to give the most for biodiversity. “I have given 30% of my farm over to habitats”
Irish organic farming pioneer Michael Hickey farms for nature near New Inn, Co. Tipperary, with his wife Ute and sons Luke and Liam.
Michael, who lived and worked all over Australia for 10 years, returned home in 1981 to take up his family farm. His experience of organic agriculture in Australia, Asia and India convinced him that a gentler approach to farming was required, and he immediately set about applying organic principles and practices to his run-down and long-neglected farm. An early member of IOFGA, he was a signatory to their Articles of Association in 1986.
His stocking rate of cattle and horses is deliberately lower than most farmers. Michael breeds all his own Aberdeen Angus replacements, and for most of his career they have been butchered locally and sold directly to consumer groups. His horses have been trained and mostly exported to England. Fodder conservation is mostly hay, with silage saved only when conditions are unsuitable. Initially Michael grew grain but found it was in conflict with the type of land he was farming. He has long since reached an accommodation with nature, and believes his farming practices are in synergy with the ecosystem.
Michael regularly hosts botanical groups and farm walks for agricultural students. He has trained farm volunteers on organic farms and given public talks on sustainable farming. A number of scientific surveys have been carried out on the farm, including a comparison with adjoining farms with similar soil profiles which revealed his land supported 126 species of flora compared to nine.
After nearly 40 years of farming and “living in agreement with nature” the farm is now a nature reserve in its own right.