Moy Hill Community Farm is an important initiative and a reminder about where our food should be coming from and it is a fantastic way to bring communities together.
Their Hometree charity project strives to bring back native trees to the West Coast of Ireland; even more so in collaboration with Grown Clothing and One Strong Arm they offer you this Christmas to gift someone a tree. Recently My Good Planet interviewed Matthew Smith, one out of three surfers, behind the Moy Hill Community Farm and Hometree. You can also read MGP’s recent article on “Surfers who Planted Trees” here.
My Good Planet: Please tell us a bit about the people behind it the Moy Hill Community Farm and Hometree project. Who are you and how did you end up at the West Coast of Ireland gardening and planting trees? Do you still have time to go and catch the waves?
Matthew Smith: There are many people who come and have given time to Moy Hill Farm and Community Garden, what happens here resonates with many people, that was easily seen during our recent crowd funding campaign where we had over 500 supporters. So many kind and warm hearted people have come from a day to a year and worked when they could. In 2012 Fergal Smith and Mitch Corbett were living together in a house and growing food for themselves and often giving bits away, I had been friends with them both for many years and had travelled to different parts of the world surfing with them. Then in 2012 and 2013 they took the growing further and started the Moy Hill Community Garden, that’s when I started getting more involved. There was magic happening there, it’s where I planted my first tree and felt the benefits of working together on the land. I first came to Ireland because of a wave that breaks under the Cliffs of Moher, a man called Mickey Smith told me about it and along with another friend I came in winter of 2007, for many years I would leave to surf different parts of the world but then in 2013 it felt like this was going to be home for a long time.
MGP: One of the other projects you have is a charity project Hometree, please tell us a bit more about it and what are your future plans for it?
MS: Planting trees has such a nice feeling to it; it’s very simple hard work and very practical. When I bought and planted my first tree a cherry tree from future forests to plant at the community garden it gave me such a buzz that I wanted to share that with others. Fergal always was very keen on reforesting as well, so Hometree came very naturally, so far we have planted almost 14,000 trees through the charity and look to carry this on, we plant mostly native species that suit the land we are planting on and welcome others to come and join in on the fun work.
MGP: You recently finished your crowd-funding campaign to raise funds for the land beside your farm, what are your ideas and plans for this piece of land?
MS: The plans that we are certain on accomplishing are feeding more of the community for longer, the numbers are not set but we dream of 150 families for 45 -50 weeks of the year. We’d love to plant another 30,000 trees in the area, welcoming people to connect with nature; that is a beautiful thing. We dream of education facilities, animals, trees, lots of healthy food and water, gatherings, festivals, a healing facility, a looped walk, music, dancing and healing.
MGP: You organise various events and workshops on and around the farm. What are the next upcoming events and workshops that people can get involved in?
MS: The one that we are planning all winter is called the ‘farm gathering’; it’s going to be a festival at the end of the summer, music, dancing, connection, workshops, healing and lots of fun. We have started to speak to some very talented musicians who have said they would love to come and play a gig on the farm too, it’s going to be a really great weekend. We will host the barn nights gigs each month in the summer, there are no dates set yet, but more information will be available on the Facebook page and website as it is set.
MGP: Please tell us how people can get involved in Moy Hill Community Farm and Hometree project; where they could find more information, how they can support your work and get involved by getting some dirt on their hands?
MS: Each Tuesday we host open days, in the summer we start with a yoga session and then carry on until 5.00 p.m. It’s a lovely day for people to come and learn and connect with each other and the land. We have a big breakfast and lunch and people take food home with them. Our website is being updated at the moment but there is a lot of information available on there at the moment. You can support Hometree charity by making a pledge to plant a tree or come up and help on a tree-planting day. These will be announced in the New Year and we hope to enjoy the day with many hands.