The RISE Community Fund supported by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) and Granahan McCourt has awarded a €1000 cash grant to Goresbridge-based farmers Joanne Cushen and her mother, Bridget, in recognition of their entrepreneurial use of technology to embrace new advances in biodiversity and sustainable farming. 

In partnership with Macra na Feirme, the RISE Community Fund ran a national competition to find entrepreneurial young farmers with plans to use technology in innovative ways to enhance their business. 

Running the mixed family farm, the mother and daughter team have several enterprises to manage, from dairy, sucklers, calf to beef, a small flock of ewes, tillage, forestry, and a brood mare. Joanne was quick to impress the judges with her desire to use technology to improve efficiencies and lower the carbon footprint of their various operations. 

Joanne said: “Our aim with the family farm is to produce high quality produce from all of our animals in a sustainable way, utilising all available technologies and new research. We have a keen interest in biodiversity and sustainable agriculture and try to be quick to embrace new technology to reduce our labour input and carbon footprint.

“We are delighted to receive this grant from the RISE Community Fund as the project we’re working on will provide a health monitoring system for our suckler weanlings. This system will provide us with 24-hour information about the animals, which spend their time grazing on parts of the farm that are about 900 feet above sea level. The remote monitoring technology means we will only have to commute to this part of the farm once a day, which frees up valuable time to expand other areas of the business.” 

David McCourt, technology entrepreneur, founder of RISE and Chairman of National Broadband Ireland, commented: “Joanne is a fantastic example of a young farmer who is incredibly proactive in looking for ways to use technology to improve the operations of their family farm. By combining technology with her entrepreneurial mindset, she’s not only making the farm more efficient, but also driving real environmental benefits which will make the farm more sustainable.

“As a global leader in agriculture, we know that Ireland boasts some of the most talented farmers in the world, and with this dedicated programme awarding grants to young farmers, we’ve been honoured to champion recipients like Joanne who have crystal clear plans to use technology in new and exciting ways.”

Mick Curran, Chief Executive of Macra na Feirma, added: “Last year we were delighted to announce a partnership agreement with NBI, endorsing its role delivering the country’s National Broadband Plan, which is set to connect over 65,000 farms in the country to high-speed fibre broadband. We’re thrilled that together with the RISE Community Fund, we’ve now been able to offer our members this opportunity to receive cash grants to empower young farmers with their plans to use technology. Many congratulations to Joanne for her successful application.”

NBI is reminding Kilkenny residents to also visit to check whether their home, farm or business is included in the National Broadband Plan and to sign up for Eircode specific updates on the rollout. 

Watch more of Joanne’s story here.  

Photo Caption: Kilkenny farmer Joanne Cusheen (centre) and her mother, alongside Niall Beirne, National Broadband Ireland (NBI), and Alexandra McCourt, RISE Global Foundatioon. Joanne Cushen was awarded a €1000 cash grant from the RISE Community Fund in recognition of their entrepreneurial use of technology to improve the operations and outputs of local farms.