Luna Orofiamma, John Keane, Elaine Houlihan and Claire Gough.

Ramor member becomes new Macra vice president

The new vice president of Macra na Feirme North West is a young woman operating a sheep farm in Butlersbridge.

A member the Ramor branch of Macra, Luna Orofiamma (27) was selected to represent the 36 clubs in the region earlier this month and will begin her two-year term at the AGM on May 15.

Originally from Navan (her dad is Italian), it was “love” that first brought Luna to Cavan. She and her partner, Conor McCaffrey from Milltown, now live in Butlerbridge close to her 30-acre holding.

The last time the Celt caught up with Luna, in 2018, she had just been named FBD’s Young Sheep Farmer of the Year. At that time, she was farming in the Swanlinbar area and had 30 ewes, having started off the previous year with 15.

Luna had an ambitious 10-year plan to grow that to 140 sheep in year five and 300 in year 10, as well as hopes to get into milking ewes to produce artisan cheese.

Fast forward three years and she is now leasing a holding in Butlerbridge and has 35 Suffolk ewes.

“I am still working off a small herd of sheep,” she reveals, adding that she completed her Masters last year and began a PhD in Lean Farm Management last October.

“I moved to Butlersbridge last year. It’s literally two minutes down the road from the house. When the land comes up that’s a bit closer, it’s always good to get your hands on it before someone else does,” continues Luna.

“Between Covid and going back to college and, obviously with the current role with Macra as well, that is slowing up that plan at the moment. What I am going to be gaining out of my PhD will be feeding into the farm business to expand it as well.

Knowledge gains

“So, even though it might take longer than the plan I had at that time, it’s going to come into play down the line anyway even if it takes 10 years or 12 years but it’s always good to continue in education and get more into the business from the knowledge gains of education,” she explains.

Luna hopes to finish her doctorate in January 2023. Like most young farmers, she also works off the farm to supplement her living and is currently working as a financial consultant with a Dublin-based firm in the area of anti money laundering. She has been busy the past few months with lambing season too.

“It makes it as easier as well with farming and college because the hours are a little bit more predictable. I have been working remotely since last March. It’s been a big help,” says Luna.

New role

She’s keen to get stuck into her new role in Macra and aims to work to better promote the organisation and improve communication between the various branches and the public via traditional media and also social media platforms.

“It’s about focussing on what Macra has to offer in relation to sporting events, travelling to events (obviously at the moment that doesn’t come into play with restrictions), the competitions that are running in the clubs - just anything. Even if it’s experiences that members in those clubs and counties have had in Macra, that people can relate to individual members and will want to join clubs and come to events because they can see that people are gaining certain experiences from Macra,” she outlines.

Luna also wants to focus on growing membership and asking the members how they would like to see the clubs develop based on their interests and what they want to get out of Macra.

The organisation, she says, is so much more that just a social outlet for young people from farming and rural communities.

“Macra is what you want to make of it. Everyone has different reasons why they join Macra. Maybe someone joins it because they want to boost their confidence in competitions, maybe they want to get involved in the sporting side or maybe they just want to get involved in the social side but it all depends on the member individually,” says Luna.

On the subject of how a young woman, such as herself, gets into sheep farming, Luna laughs. It was in her blood from a young age.

“I grew up on a mixed farm in Italy – dairy, poultry and pigs - that’s what attracted me into the farming life... Growing up on a farm and spending time on the farm with the grandparents, I knew it was something I wanted to do when I was older.”

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