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Sean Corrigan, Eanna ni Lamhna, Kieran Kenny
Sean Corrigan, Eanna ni Lamhna, Kieran Kenny

The National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) which is a member of ICOS has launched a nationwide group water scheme (GWS) initiative to inspire farming families to protect water quality and biodiversity

‘Orchards for Farmers’ will see the provision of apple orchards to 230 farming families in four different counties. The apple trees are a symbol of the links between the protection of drinking water sources, sustainable land management and biodiversity. As part of the initiative, each family is planning to manage their orchards in a pesticide-free manner, given the risks of ‘weed killer’ to both drinking water and biodiversity.

Some 80 farming families in Mid Roscommon Group Water Scheme and 10 families in Corracreigh Group Water Scheme are among the first orchard recipients. They will join 140 families across counties Mayo, Cavan and Monaghan in planting heritage apple orchards, with plans for a wider future roll-out across other group water schemes around the county.

The initiative, which has been developed by the National Federation of Group Water Schemes as part of a Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine funded source protection project, seeks to educate communities about the need to protect water while also giving families something actionable that they can experience together.

The orchards have significant co-benefits for biodiversity, carbon sequestration and, of course, the possibility of some tasty, apple-based treats!

Welcoming the launch of the initiative, Barry Deane, CEO of the NFGWS explained its importance:

‘Pesticide usage in gardens, on verges outside households, and on the farm can pose a threat to drinking water quality and to biodiversity in general. When communities understand this, they can play a vital role in mitigating this risk. An important element of this project is our collaborative approach with the Teagasc Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP), who we will be working with on a programme to educate the farming community on alternative controls to unwanted vegetation.’

The launch took place in Roscommon. Follow this link: Orchards for Farmers launch event highlights – YouTube

As a valued member of ICOS, we congratulate NFGWS on this excellent initiative.

Tags: GWS, Water, Water Quality