During my study abroad at Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan Ireland, I met Michael Monk. He has lived in Ballyvaughan, Ireland for 45 years. He previously owned Monk’s Restaurant and Bar, a popular spot in the small town. Now, he is retired and farms just as a hobby. For 15 years, every Saturday, he is at the local farmer’s market to sell his vegetables and chicken eggs, to both returning customers and tourists stopping in. Everything on this green gingham table he has grown himself, free of fertilizers and pesticides.
But Ballyvaughan has been changing. The younger generations are moving to urban areas like Dublin or Cork. Michael’s son used to live here and help out on the farm but moved away for a job opportunity. Soon there will be no one to take over these multi-generational local farms like Michael’s. The global agricultural market is pushing out countless family farms with their low prices that couldn’t even possibly pay for the seed, Michael explained to me. Soon enough the elderly farmers won’t be here and the younger generation won’t be here to grow. Yet, Michael keeps growing, all for the joy of it.