From growing up in a farming family in western Ireland, to roaming the seas to surf the worlds best waves; Fergal Smith was a key member of the generation that put Irish surfing on the global stage.
After years of air travel however, Fergal became more and more aware of his impact, deciding to fall back on his farming roots to give back to the land that raised him. A full circle journey; from soil to sea, and back again.
Hi, I'm Fergal Smith.
I have been a professional surfer for over 10 years, now I run a regenerative farm here in County Clare.
Myself and my brother got into surfing through our dad who is also a market gardener, but we didn't grow up near the sea, we grew up about half an hour, 45min drive away. But I always had this passion to really want and go and see, and go out to these really great waves & watch the best surfers in the world & then give it a go and then try and bring that back home on own waves here. It was almost not possible, someone from a farming background to get to go and ride the best waves in the world, I explored & I pushed as hard as I could I think.
My own rude awaking was in Tahiti, after a really bad knee injury & I was sitting there, and it was when the nuclear power plant was sinking into the sea in Japan. It was getting uncomfortable just to get on another flight, for myself to catch more waves, to get another flight I did question what is the best thing I can do, but I do have this upbringing of farming, and that's a skill that's quite important. So that's it, that's what I have been given & that’s what I am going to do.
We have degraded our good soil on this planet by a crazy amount in the last 100 years. Basically our whole existence is based on those couple of inches. Our buildings, our clothes, our food obviously, everything! So what are we going to do to repair it?
There is this term of regenerative farming. Your mission is to make the soil better year on year. That's our whole mission, is to be a regenerative farm & then to educate about it. You can build soil year on year, just by moving different animals. Also its the integration of tree species; once you have tress in soil you are creating more structure, you're holding more soil together, strengthening river banks. Soil is everything, if we look after soil & we’re building soil by storing carbon, we can solve all our problems, be it pollution, climatic, biodiversity, you name it.
We can all play our part, in trying to bring regenerative food as the norm. If we want to have soil for our kids this is what we all need to do. Its a very interesting time in the next 5 -10 years were we turn this profession into an exciting job that people want to take on and they see the challenges and they know how they can do it.
The sea is this respite, this kind of therapy, place that I go, generally with my family & its all joy and fun if and when I get there its going to be great and I'm going to really appreciate it. Being out in nature, getting in the sea that kind of basic stuff I think is simple but it is also more powerfully than nearly anything.
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