Origin

Biography for @folkandlorepod

— Finvoy; If you were to blink to whilst driving through it, you’d perhaps miss it altogether.

Set in off the beaten track amongst white thorn quick’s and blackthorn sloes; 

this tiny and abstruse little Hamlet plays host to a gathering of local natives on a three-acre plot, called ‘Origin’ 

For if you were to dander down rural Dirraw road on any given Saturday from early Spring to late Autumn; you might be surprised with what you’d find on these quiet country lanes.

The sound of laughter from behind hedgerows and the faint patter of unfeigned conversations in amongst furrows and drills; as harvesters stoop low to unearth an abundance of aged produce grown for human consumption.

Polytunnels and long-tailed shovels, hipsters sipping caffeine around timber topped tables. A thriving coffee house open to the public, with an elegant espresso machine polished to within an inch of its life. Music bellowing out of high corners and the eaves of what we once an old piggery.

This place oozes invitation and offers a very different experience from that of the concrete pit stops most of us coffee enthusiasts frequent in urbanised areas.

You’ll find wide-eyed wanna be horticulturalists tying bouquets; would-be brides plucking perfectly timed flower bombs out of the meadows; readying for the reciting of vows; flowers that they’d indeed sowed themselves, just weeks before.

This place offers something different.

Volunteers and patrons from all across the counties working in vegetable plots and fruit houses, sowing and reaping the spoils of their long summers graft, whilst snacking on their trophies as they go.

‘Origin is a community farm and acreage just outside Ballymoney.

A collective of habitual gardening practitioners well versed in more traditional forms of crop production, implementing practices that have been long absent from these baronies.

As from beneath the comforting gaze of secluded sycamore and bright Irish Ash; dark earth is turned upside down in the pursuit of happiness.

It is here that Kenny Baird and his wife Victoria have transformed this once congregated chicken farm into a land-loving community space and creative horticultural hub.

Their ethos is field to fork living, growing to eat, eating to grow, cultivating awareness in the midst of crop rotation and warm communal suppers.

The site sits in the townland of ‘Knockans’.

But there is a beautiful fortuity about this location and a serendipity that swells the nostalgic heart.

There are two ancient burial grounds close bye; one of which lays only yards away in a neighbouring field.

And it’s suggested that this area was once a Monastic site, in the neighbouring townland of ‘Vow’.

The question is; is the symmetry of this happenstance in terms of ethos and practice nothing more than a coincidence, or a magnificently woven tale and the re-digging of an ancient well.

For perhaps this is not the first time a community with earnest endeavour has tilled this land in the practicing of presence.

And maybe, just maybe, the ground calls to us still, to those of us who will listen and respond to her tender voice, maybe the earth holds onto the memories of our kind and forgets not the movements of those that have gone before, easily recalling that which slips away all too quietly from our own thoughts.

Maybe the soils echo still with an ancient allure to draw us back to our roots and it is she — our mother — who has our best interests at heart; 

if only we would dare to listen and to converse with her in that soft tongue.

In this episode Kenny talks to me about slowing down, his plans for the future and how community farming has transformed his life.

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