Nuffield Scholars 2021: Ray O'Foghlu, Heather Steele, Brendan Crosse, Brian McCarthy and Alex Eivers

Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust Ireland has selected 5 scholars for the 2021 Nuffield Scholarships

The new scholars for 2021 are:

Brendan Crosse, Cashel, Co Tipperary. In 2016, Brendan and his brother, Michael, got into farming by establishing a sheep dairy farm. Their business is Sheep Milk Ireland Ltd. They are currently supplying a number of cheesemakers across Munster, most notably, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers.

They have scaled the business and are developing innovative sheep milk powder products. Sheep Milk Ireland aims to create a large-scale sheep dairy industry in Ireland and offer other farmers the opportunity to get into the industry.

Brendan’s study topic is: Creating alternative primary agri-food industries in Ireland; Designing a sheep milk industry across the entire supply chain and the role that a co-op can play in this.

Alex Eivers, Trim, County Meath, is from a poultry and tillage farm. His parents pioneered commercial Free Range Egg production in the 1980’s. He spent ten years working in the world of fresh produce, culminating in a senior commercial role.

In 2013 while still working full time, Alex spearheaded the expansion of the family poultry farm, from 20,000 free range laying hens to 40,000 hens. In 2018, due to the commitment required, Alex made the decision to focus on full time farming, with a view to further expansion.

Alex’s Nuffield study is titled “Efficiency of Egg Production Systems in Ireland & the Marketing of the Irish Eggs

Ray O’Foghlu, Milltown Malbay, Co Clare was a school teacher who retrained in environmental science. He works for An Taisce, focussed on community engagement in projects such as community woodlands under the Learning about Forests (LEAF) programme.

Ray is an advocate of returning trees and forests of all types to the Irish landscape. He believes native and commercial woodlands, hedgerows, riparian buffer strips and other forms of tree cover can deliver functionality and value to landowners as well as benefits to the wider community.

His study topic “Acquiring social licence to increase tree cover on the Irish landscape” will investigate attitudes and explore policy opportunities in this area.

Brian McCarthy, Cork City, has a background is mainly in Floriculture and the wholesale supply of fresh flowers and plants to the floristry market in Ireland.

In March 2020, Brian was forced to close his wholesale flower business due to the COVID-19 lockdown and engaged in a rooftop farming project in the heart of Cork City, namely Cork Rooftop Farm. Through social and main-stream media attention, a viable business emerged from the lockdown with a focus to connect urban consumers with their produce using regenerative and sustainable techniques.

His topic is “Regenerative Agriculture Practices in an Urban Environment Which Reconnects People With The Source Of Their Food”.

Heather Steele, Dublin is a native of Donegal, and is currently a PhD researcher at UCD and livestock embryologist. Her PhD research is about sexing semen and how this affects sperm quality and embryonic development. Heather also studied at UCC and University of Nottingham. She has also worked with a veterinary practice on Co Tyrone.

Heather’s study topic is ‘Using Sexed Semen to improve the sustainability of the Irish Dairy Industry’. She is a strong believer in research which will have a real world influence and can be readily translated into practice.