Glanbia Ireland Sustainability Champion, Malachy Doherty
Horticulturist with Glanbia CountryLife Malachy Doherty is living proof of the company’s commitment to sustainability. In his work and home life, Malachy is a true sustainability champion.
“I’ve been working with Glanbia since 2011 and I’ve seen huge change over that time. We’ve matured as a company and as a nation when it comes to being kinder to the environment – particularly over the past five years.
“Glanbia initiatives such as Operation Pollination and Operation Biodiversity have helped sow the seed with the public. There has been huge change and customers who come into me at CountryLife Dungarvan are interested in sustainability.
“They ask about trees, hedging and wildflowers, that can help feed our bees. They want to avoid pesticides and want to create habitats for wildlife.
“Children in particular have really shown an interest in being kinder to the environment. I sow seeds with children at the Festival of Food in Dungarvan, every year and this helps to get them interested.
“When I started out with the company you’d rarely see a farmer in the garden centre. Now they’re among our most enthusiastic customers. They want to plant native trees. They’re replanting biodiverse hedgerows. Our first phase of Operation Biodiversity was a huge success and the take-up among farmers for our native tree and hedgerow bundles surpassed all expectations.”
Malachy lives outside Waterford city and owns and manages a smallholding of 25 acres with his wife and two sons. “It’s all farmed in a very eco-sensitive way. I don’t use artificial fertilisers and always keep nature in mind. I had calves on part of the land last year and they keep some of the pasture short to allow cowslips and short wild flowers thrive. I’ve added in a large lake and planted Oak and hazel trees. I let one of the pastures grow long like an old-fashioned meadow. It was a haven for so much wildlife.
“It is now a very rich eco system and I’ve noticed a local buzzard, bats, at least four different species of dragon flies and loads of butterflies. One of them is a rare species. It’s great to see and I really enjoy it.”
The family also owns eight acres of native woodland. “We’ve loads of mature oak and native trees there. It goes back to my father’s time and he said the trees were big when he was a lad. We’ve planted about 300 extra trees there over the past few years and lightly maintain them, just to get them going. As a family we’ve planted trees in this area over the past 40 years or more. We are an “outdoor” family. My brother is a zoologist and my sister is a marine biologist. I’ve another brother who is a landscaper/horticulturist like me. It’s very much in our genes.”
Even those with the smallest of gardens and farm holdings are making space for wildlife, Malachy says. “Lots more people are looking after their property in a wildlife sensitive way. Families in particular are looking at their gardens and allowing a space for pleasure, a place for play and are setting aside a corner or a section as a wildlife reserve. This might just even mean letting a section where the grass grows longer; where you scatter a few wildflower seeds or plant a hedge or trees. It really is as easy as that.
“At Glanbia we are playing our part. We’re educating our customers, we’re working with our farmers who know for generations that sustainability is a critical part of good farming practice. We’re on an exciting journey and we’ve plenty buy-in from our own employees, from our customers in our garden centres and our farm stores. It’s no more than our customers and our consumers expect.”