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These Charming Men

A friendship born in the water and growing in the soil, ambassadors Matt Smith and Fergal Smith have been like brothers for as long as we can remember. With a shared vision to feed people, care for the earth and inspire, they educate on the fruits of the land and a sustainable way of living. Both men have found their community on a 17 acre plot in County Clare, Ireland.
With summer well and truly in the rear view, Matt caught up with Fergal to talk farming, garlic, family and the changing of the seasons.

On today: We spent the summer harvesting garlic. It was planted last October, so this has been our first full garlic season. We learnt a lot from this harvest. We planted it before we put drains in and the land was quite wet: its all edible but some are not perfectly formed. This is year two on the farm now. In the beginning we were trying to grow vegetables in a site which had never grown vegetables before, but it is all making more sense now. There is structure, pathways and beds. By year three, the garden should be fully set up and we can concentrate on honing our skills. It will be great to get more people involved in working with us, showing them how we do it; it will get easier and better each year and then we can scale up again.

On family: Our second baby, baby Grá, was born at the start of the summer, so she’s just past the newborn phase. When she was born it was the most hectic time in the garden so Sally, Sunshine, Grá and I were here every day as a family. When Sunshine was born we didn’t leave the house for three months. Second time around it has been a lot easier; we were more aware of what it takes. Its been hard but great and we are all healthy and happy. Sunshine is enjoying her new sister and life on the farm. She knows everything about the garden and each vegetable. It is beautiful watching them grow up here, seeing them so happy. 


 On people: We have the most amazing people to visit. Even though we don't have much in the way of facilities they are up for the challenge and it really makes the whole project run better and be more exciting. We have met so many brilliant people who will be friends for life; it brings a lot of diversity to the farm. Its a great sign of things to come. 


On the solstice passing: It is exciting to see how much veg is coming out of the ground, and how many people are being fed. We can take a half breath now after the planting and harvesting before we start planning and planting for the next growing season. Spring and summer are so busy it is hard as gardeners and farmers to get away, so we are looking forward to the autumn for waves and getting a sailing trip in before the season has finished.

On the season to come: We have a huge project to come in relation to trying to buy more land to undertake more work. Its the most exciting thing but will also take a lot of our time. I don't really feel it as crazy pressure but I am aware that we have to be true to our priorities; the water, surfing, sailing and swimming, but also feeding ourselves and our community. I also hope we can keep inspiring others to do the same: I hope more people will join us. Leading a lifestyle where we have the freedom to do it the way we choose rather than being part a system that isn’t looking after the planet very well makes me feel very optimistic. I feel healthy and strong; our community is strengthening, it feels really good. There will be challenges ahead but I feel so positive.

Photos by Matt Smith and Mats Kahlstrom

More on Moy Hill Community Farm here.

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