Hillside Holistic Farm
A unique family farm with an holistic approach to farming and to life
Hillside Holistic Farm is a working organic farm in rural Co. Roscommon which has been in the Butler family for 4 generations.
- Organic farming
- Holistic healing
- Youth and project mentoring
- A dedicated therapy room for groups and therapists
- Community events such as equinoxes and solstice events
- Social farming for vulnerable groups
- An 11 hectare native woodland
As Featured In
Hillside Holistic Farm Healing Space
In 2010, we built a small wooden building that we use for coaching, energy healing and group ceremonies. This was done with the support of Roscommon LEADER Partnership.
The building gave us a space to begin our healing work and is also available to rent by other therapists or people doing group work. We have hosted art groups, business networks and organic training.
Situated on the farm in a quiet, tranquil space, it offers an opportunity to connect with nature. Adjacent is our Willow Circle – with wooden seating, it offers an outdoor meeting space or just somewhere to sit in tranquility.
Space Rental to Holistic Practitioners and Groups
Rental for 1 to 1 Practitioners
A calm environment relaxes both the body and mind and here on the farm we offer both indoor and outdoor therapy space in a quiet countryside setting.
10 euro per hour
50 euro day rate
Call to arrange a viewing
- Yoga Teacher
- Reiki Practitioner
- Energy Healer
Rental for your group of 10-12 people
Lunch can be provided. Get in touch to discuss your requirements and we will be able to give you a price.
- Youth Groups
- Mental Health Groups
- Yoga or Tai Chi Group
- Spiritual Workshops
- Nature Education
- Active Age
- Art Class
- School Groups
- Rites of Passage Groups
- Community Groups
Arrange a Workshop for your Group
Organise a workshop to be run by Sean or Helen for your group. Bespoke workshops can be developed according to the needs of your group. Group sizes: 10 – 12. Lunch can be provided. Get in touch to discuss your requirements and we will be able to give you a price.
- Nature Education
- Youth Wellbeing
- Personal Development
Community at Hillside Holistic Farm
Social farming has given us the opportunity to share the benefits of farm life with others. Opportunities to work, gain experience or just get a feel for the outdoors can have an incredible impact on mental health and wellbeing.
Equinox and Solstice Events
Celebrating natural events like the solstice and the equinox is something we’ve done here on the farm right from the beginning. Aligning ourselves with nature and working in sync with it, enriches our lives. We have previously hosted physical events and more recently, online events to celebrate these important markers in the natural calendar.
Care of the Earth
Videos of Hillside Holistic Farm
RTE Ear to the Ground, January 2019
Welcome to Hillside Holistic Farm, May 2021
Working the land is in my blood and this has evolved over the years.
I see my role as the caretaker rather than the owner, working with the land, rather than using it for my sole benefit.
Solstice and Equinox Events
Down through history, humans have observed the movement of the sun and the planets in relation to the earth and have marked the main annual events with ritual and celebration.
The 4 events that occur in the relationship between the earth and the sun are:
- The Winter Solstice – the sun is at its lowest point in the sky resulting in the shortest day of year. It is the darkest time of the year – a time to be less active and more reflective – a time of rest, in tune with nature which rests until the growing season begins.
- The Spring Equinox – the sun is positioned directly above the equator giving equal length of day and night. In Spring, nature is becoming active with new life and growth. We can follow that example by preparing to bring to life the ideas and plans we dreamed during the dark nights of the winter.
- The Summer Solstice – the sun is at its highest point in the sky giving us the longest day of the year. All of nature is at its most active and productive, as are we. We celebrate the sunshine and the abundance of nature.
- The Autumn Equinox- the sun is positioned directly above the equator giving equal length of day and night. In Autumn, the busy time of summer is coming to an end as we harvest what we sowed earlier in the year. Here we can reflect on our efforts and rejoice in our growth while also giving thanks for the gifts of nature.
Our celebrations are open to all
Our celebrations here on the farm are a continuation of the rituals of our ancestors. Join us to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life to reflect on your own journey and nudge yourself into realignment with your true purpose.
Join our Email List to get the details of the next Event at Hillside Holistic Farm
There is a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of spending time in woodland and forest. Japanese doctors have been prescribing spending time in woodland (forest bathing) to their patients who suffer from high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, depression and a host of other illnesses. Spending time strolling or sitting in a forest helps alleviate all of the above health problems and many more.
Most of the time that humans have been on the earth (80%+), we have lived in woodland. This is probably why being with trees has such a calming effect on us– we sense that we are at home.
Sean used to believe that the land belonged to him but now he feels that he belongs to the land. He sees his role is to work with the land so that it can be what it wants to be, rather than him imposing his will and making it what he wants it to be. All land, if left to itself, will become woodland. All farming, growing crops and grassland is a battle to prevent the land from returning to woodland. Having come to this realisation, the Butler family decided to plant 11 hectares (about ⅓) of the farm as native woodland – oak, birch, hazel, scots pine, holly, guilder rose and whitethorn. When it’s established, the forest will also serve as a seed bank of plants, seeds and biodiversity. This will be for the benefit of the wildlife who live there, but also so that the biodiversity can spread to surrounding areas.
The Native Woodland can be used by:
- Nature Education Groups
- Forest Schools
- Forest Bathing
- School Groups
- Rites of Passage Groups
- Community Groups
- Scouts and Girl Guide Groups
- Not open to the general public. By appointment only.
Organic Working Farm
In December 2001, Hillside Farm started the two year conversion period for organic farming. This is to detox the soil and the animals before they can be certified as full symbol organic and sold into organic markets. We often say to people that the only animal on any farm that needs to be converted to organic is the farmer. Left to their own devices, the soil, animals and plants are organic. It‘s the farmer that prevents them from being so.
Farming organically is harder than conventional farming because it requires planning ahead and using rotations to prevent health problems occurring. This is because all medications (dosing, antibiotics) can only be used if there is no alternative available. We reduced stock numbers by about 50 per cent and this gave the animals more space and less competition, resulting in lower stress levels. This allowed them to be healthier and better able to deal with infections and parasites. Not using fertilisers on grassland resulted in the return of a more diverse mix of grasses and herbs. This is a healthier diet for animals. We make all our own silage and hay and buy in a small amount of organically certified meal if it is needed. Another change was using straw bedding for cattle instead of slatted floors. This is more comfortable for the animals and also gives plenty of farmyard manure to fertilise the land. Farmyard manure is more beneficial than liquid slurry as it helps to build soil.
We originally farmed cattle and sheep but have sold the sheep to make way for the native woodland.
- Social Farming is an all-Ireland and European-wide initiative which facilitates an opportunity for vulnerable people to get involved in the day-to-day working of a regular farm. It’s not therapy, but rather the benefit comes from spending time in nature, doing physical work, interacting with soil, plants, animals whilst engaging with other people.
- Social Farming Ireland connects organisations who work with vulnerable people with farmers.
- Farmers are trained in health, safety and safeguarding. Sometimes a group leader attends with the group, other times the participants attend by themselves.
- The farmer chooses tasks suitable to the ability level of the group.
- The organisation has a choice to look at the different farmers in the area and can choose who best fits their needs. They can then come for an introduction visit- where the participants and farmer have the opportunity to see if it’s a fit between them working together.
Details of Social Farming with Sean:
- This scheme is overseen by the Department of Agriculture. If you work with a group of vulnerable people and would like to find out more, please get in touch with Social Farming Ireland to enquire, www.socialfarming.ie.
- 8 weeks- once a week. It is agreed between the group and the host farmer.
- This scheme is of benefit to the participants but also has the intention for encouraging diversification in farming.
Examples of groups facilitated:
- Early school leavers
- At risk youth
- Addiction recovery groups
- Mental health groups
- Long-term unemployed
History of Hillside Farm
The Butler family has been farming here for at least 4 generations. Sean left school in 1976 and started farming then. In 1979, he completed a one-year course in Mountbellew Agricultural College. Once that was done, he started to develop the farm and increase production, reseeding grass and increasing cattle and sheep numbers. He always had some conflict within himself about what he was doing with the land and animals, fertilizers and medicines, but this is how farmers were encouraged to do things so he put his concerns aside and carried on. He decided that others seemed to know best and so he didn’t question it.
By the late 1990’s, Sean’s concerns about how his farming methods were affecting the land, animals, water, air, biodiversity, environment in general and also the health of people – both then and future generations, eventually got the better of him. He converted to organic farming in 2001. This resulted in a reduction in stock numbers by 50%, no fertilizers or routine medications. Virtually all of the things he had been vaccinating and treating with routine medications disappeared. He put this down to the fact that the lower numbers of animals reduced their levels of stress and this gave a stronger immune system. Sean also noticed his own stress levels decreased too.
Farming organically is much different from conventional farming. It involves planning and thinking farther ahead. The land and animals have to be managed to prevent problems from occurring by using proper grazing rotations etc, whereas conventionally you just keep pushing ahead and use medications and fertilizers to try to solve the problems that arise. Seeing the impact of this on the animals is what started Sean thinking about health in general. His farming philosophy is “I belong to the land. It’s not my role to make the land do what I think it should be doing. Instead, I work out what the land wants me to do and I do that.”
The Butler Family’s latest venture in farming is to plant 11 hectares of native woodland. They have sold the sheep to make way for this, so now they have a cattle and forest farm!