SOUTH Down MLA Chris Hazzard and Downpatrick Councillor Liam Johnston visited Jack Kelly’s farm this week to show their support for his bid to be crowned RSPB’s Nature of Farming Award winner 2012.
Jack is one of four finalists in this year’s RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award, the UK’s largest farm wildlife competition. The Award celebrates the great work that many farmers do to care for our countryside. As farmland covers over 75% of the UK, much of our wildlife is dependent on farmland.
The Kellys’ 89-acre farm is situated near Downpatrick and features areas of wild bird cover and retained winter stubble. It supports farmland birds which depend on a seed source during the winter months. The A-shaped hedges provide food, shelter and commuting routes for a range of birds, mammals and invertebrates.
Through conscientious management, threatened birds such as the yellowhammer and tree sparrow are thriving on the farm. Jack and his family are keen wildlife enthusiasts; they have placed boxes to provide nesting sites for tree sparrows, barn owls and kestrels and always ensure there is a sufficient supply of food for the birds.
Chris Hazzard said, “Jack Kelly’s farm is a great example of how business and nature can exist side-by-side. Jack is a real ambassador for farming in the 21st century – running a sound family business with conservation at its core. We believe he deserves to be crowned the most wildlife-friendly farmer in 2012, but to do that, he needs your vote. I’ve already cast my vote and I’d urge everyone to do the same.”
Jack added modestly, “We have a natural interest in wildlife and just do our bit to help it on our farm. We just think that if you look after nature, nature will look after you.”
RSPB’s Hayley Sherwin said, “This Award has been going since 2008 and Northern Irish farmers have won this award twice in that time which goes to show how much care our farmers take of nature in this part of the world.
“Jack is up against three farmers from England but we’d love him to make it a hat-trick of winners from Northern Ireland!”
To find out more and cast your vote, go to www.rspb.org.uk/farmvote. By voting, you help the RSPB fight for a fairer deal for all wildlife-friendly farmers. And you might even win a luxury break for two people worth over £500!