Franciscan farming – some options to explore

Dear Reader,

The website <lichenfoxie> has been quiet in recent months. The authors and writer are gradually getting extraordinarily enthusiastic about local biodiversity documentation. The concept known as a sessile plant florula is in essence of what is being made – This is a kind of local flora, that Declan Doogue, who is struggling for decades with a ‘Kildare Flora’ and John Feehan, Wild Flowers of Offaly would be proud of, that incorporates multiple taxonomic insights derived from the species present. Also <lichenfoxie> has become very enthused about sharing our passion for what I call ‘moth-farming in North Leitrim’ or ‘Sorting Sphagnum …’  developing in the evening, some of the scented paths with Rosa agrestris to and from New Ross, necessary for the urgent transition from Benedictine agriculture to Franciscan farming.

A start at Franciscan farming has been made: in South Kerry, in fields that never heard a Hymac’s engine running in it, forever, or a bill-hook or slaine in the pairc, since 2000; in North Leitrim; at Rossinver in Straid (Connolly); and Kiltyclogher in Corracloona; in West Cork, Bantry at Ardnagashel; in Wexford near New Ross, at Ballyanne; in Carlow, on the hill slopes with a reddish Scapania cf. irrigua, near Ballymurphy and the tree trail of Myshall with an amazing Bay tree in the Adelaide Church grounds. In Wicklow, we have recently been looking at a mine adit at Glendalough; a boulder in the block scree near the Miner’s Village in Wicklow. Florulas of these places are in gestation.  

The production of a short concise local florula that documents sessile biodiversity by <lichenfoxie> continues apace – a florula as we mention above is a booklet about the biodiversity of a particular place and the assemblages of plants, ferns, mosses, liverworts, fungi and lichens, algae, and any other groups of wildlife that there is evidence for, observed directly in a day or twos observation at a place in a townland in some county in Ireland, in Soufriere in Saint Lucia or on a French Polynesian island in the South Pacific ocean like Moorea.   

The South part of County of Kerry, between Kenmare and Sneem, is in the heart of Thomas Taylor (1785-1848) country. As I write on www.lichenfoxie.com, we draw attention to the ground work on Thomas Taylor scholarship has been set by the late Geneva Sayre late of the Farlow Herbarium, Harvard University Herbaria. This material has the potential for making of an historical florula in the landscape of South Kerry between 1800 and 1850.

On pesticides, there is a school project from 1983, researched in the Oakpark Library, which I can go back to, which was supervised by Dr. Andre Fro:lich. The impact of agriculture from the mid-1980s to the 2020s on the Irish landscape and its florulas has been profound. The changes in the weeds of tillage crops from the 1970s, on, have been extraordinary. We can see this by looking closely at the Flora of Carlow, by Evelyn Booth, and the bryophytes of Arable Fields in Kildare.  

In the mid-2010s, in what is now DCU Alpha, we with Sean O’Donovan studied the botany of twigs from Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth as well as the botany of Saint Lucia in 2014, and we would like to draw stands of our writings for local botany together. This approach to documenting nature, focused on making a florula of sessile plants, and the biodiversity side of nature, was crystallised in teaching, that Maria Cullen and I gave on Culture Night at the convent at Glasnevin. We are now feeling centred on a path to the future realism of Franciscan ‘moth’ farming, versus the Benedictine dairying of today.

A few weeks of new writing in Summer and Autumn 2022 with attention to responding to the contents of the 100 display books and conferring with earlier writings on <www.lichenfoxie.com>; much of which you our dear readers have read; has left us with an interesting raft of ideas to put into second gear. Second gear is a Finnish Ascomycete Systematics scientist’s analogy, Seppo Huhtinen, we are doing an #agriculture by applying ourselves to themes in a Venn diagram somewhere between ethical agronomy and wise mushroom carpophore utility for the #future.

We had a great session at The Organic Centre, Rossinver, County Leitrim on Saturday 11th June 2022, performing at Foley Falls, and again over three days at our Irish Geological Association granite geobiology workshop with Maria Cullen in Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains National Park, 17th to 19th June 2022. Go, #gratitude. Many thanks to Mary & Johnnie Cullen of Ballyanne, Nick and Sophia Hilliard of Corracloona, and Christy & Johnny Fanning of Loughshinny, the Andrews of Fournoughts; and Sr. Vivienne Keely, Margaret Aylward Centre Faith Dialogue, and Heinrich & Greta Pertl, Glasnevin, and other good people who have provided the benevolent community spaces for us into which such notions of sessile Franciscan ‘moth’ farming has developed, during the life of Oberon (gebornen: xii 2011) and Bran.

This contribution to organisation of our few decades of floristic botany and field geology in Ireland, and in a few choice places around the world, into a series of locally relevant floristic outputs will be a benefit to anyone considering Franciscan ‘moth’ farming and native ‘sessile’ gardening on their patches, to help readers understand what different kinds of plants are present, and how the biodiversity that you have on site provides a framework for the resident entomology, as our resource for providing options to farmers interested in this style of ‘moth’ farming.

Should you be a landowner with a budget to spend, do feel free to enquire, and commission us to do our magic, and document your site. We are just an e-mail away. For all our FB friends, this is the essential service, of sessile plant florula making, that we are endeavouring to provide from our office with a Rising Tide in New Ross.

With kind regards

Howard Fox

Botanist & Writer, a.k.a. <lichenfoxie>

Maria Cullen

C.E.O., Planet Life Research

Rising Tide

36 South Street

New Ross

County Wexford

1010 words

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