Bia Oisin and small-scale agriculture in Ireland: when people can make a difference

The story of a man who has followed his believes and has managed to create an authentic sustainable reality in his hometown, Claregalway, in the green Ireland. A vegetable garden full of flowers where Oisin Kenny produces organic vegetables delivered fresh and direct to his customers doors. Good practices need hard work, but they are true and possible. This is a good example. This is a human destination.

  1. Hi Oisin, could you tell us something more about you and your project, Bia Oisin, and the techniques you use? How have you started and the difficulties you have met during your path?

I am a 33 year Market Gardener based in Claregalway Village, 10km north of Galway city in the West of Ireland. I grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and supply year round mixed boxes to home customers while supplying a number of restaurants in Galway city. The main difficulties in my career were firstly acquiring the knowledge necessary to grow the vegetables and enter this career path. Next obstacle was acquiring the essential infrastructure, such as propagation materials, compost, protected cropping structures (my polytunnel) and a mode of transportation. The most significant technique I consider that I use that differs from other growers is a ‘no-dig’ approach whereby compost is applied as a mulch to the surface of the soil and the biology of the soil slowly incorporate the compost into the soil.

  1. Why have you decided to stay in Ireland and start a project in your hometown? Wouldn’t it have been simpler to travel and find opportunities in other Countries?

I was on the other side of the world when I felt a compulsion to return to the family farm and begin my farming/Market Gardening career. I had spent a number of years living in other countries doing different things so I was ready to return home and start to help my father on the family farm.

  1. We know that you have made some travel experiences before starting Bia Oisin, can you tell us something about these trips and if it has been an encounter that has been particularly important, one that has made a difference in your life projects?

In 2005-2006 I spent a year travelling around the world with 3 friends spending 1 month in Thailand, 9 months travelling and working throughout Australia, 1 month touring New Zealand, a week in Fiji, a week in Hawaii then a road trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles via Las Vegas. Upon returning in 2006 I undertook a Masters In International Real Estate in England. As the property market collapsed in 2007 onwards I found myself unable to find employment so I acquired a year work visa for Canada. The year in Canada was the time when I realised for certain what I wanted to do with my life. It was combination of experiences and time and maturity that meant I could put 100 percent into what I wanted to do because I had gotten to experience so much else of the world I knew I would not be missing out on anything better.Oisin_2

  1. You also host volunteers from all over the world during all the year – why have you decided to open the doors of your house and be part of this exchange? Have there ever been any difficulties in the relationship with volunteers?

I have hosted wwoofers from all over the world for the past 3 years and have found it a really beneficial and helpful exchange program. The nature of my style of gardening/growing is very labor intensive so there is always a lot of work that needs doing, so without wwoofers I would not be able to complete all the work I need to. Yes, there are difficulties although for the most part I have come to realise almost all of them could be be avoided if I had communicated more clearly my desires and helped guide them through the tasks for a longer period.

  1. Bia Oisin is a good example of sustainability and small-scale organic agriculture, do you think it could be replicated in another Country? Would you suggest to a young person to follow your path and start a similar project?

I strongly advocate to other people to persue their dreams within whatever field/area they are most passionate about. However I am particularly passionate about what I do and the importance of regenerative agriculture so I do try to encourage anyone open to that career as best as I can.

  1. If you would come to Italy and visit a Human Destination, what inspiration would you follow?

Rurality and innovation. I suppose if I was to come visit Italy to visit a Human Destination it would be to experience innovative ways of sustainable living and to experience the beauty of the Italy countryside which is famous all over the world.

Do you also think that sustainability and small-scale production could be a solution to food issues and you would like to discover innovative ways of sustainable living? Come to meet Marta, Michael, Matteo and Jacopo of Fattoria Lara, who will show you the principles of synergistic agriculture and will make you feel part of a project of innovative and sustainable agriculture on the borders of the Trasimeno Lake.

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«Bisogna avere in sé il caos per partorire una stella danzante» sintetizza perfettamente la personalità di Federica: disordinata, alla perenne ricerca di un equilibrio (è pur sempre una bilancia, anche se atipica!), dotata di un’energia dirompente che trova nella creatività una valvola di sfogo perfetta. La sua sfida quotidiana è portare innovazione negli ambienti tradizionalmente più statici e lo fa coi suoi modi diretti e il suo cuore grande, e con questo stesso cuore si occupa della comunicazione di Destinazione Umana.