Creativity and farming – what’s the connection?
Many of the farmers in retrospect admitted that at the project’s beginning they struggled to see how creativity and farming could interconnect. As sheep farmer John Joe Fitzgerald explains:
“When we were talking about artists at the beginning, even I said, ‘what has this art got to do with farming?’ We do find it hard at times to express ourselves or pull the words out of our mouths. What are we going to say? How would I describe this? But while you’re talking to Lisa, she could draw a sketch, and you look at the sketches and realise that’s exactly what I’m trying to say.”
In September 2022, some of the farmers visited and contributed to an impressive 30-metre Creative Climate Wall that the team created on-site at the National Ploughing Championships in Co. Laois. Using Lisa’s graphic harvesting prowess and collaborative know-how, the wall’s presence at the event helped expand the process and involve even more farmers.
“The amount of farmers that were stopping and looking at what we were doing, and walking by and seeing the drawings on the wall. And you could hear them say, ‘that’s exactly what we’re trying to say, and we’ve been saying this for years’, and it got a discussion going, it got people talking to each other.”
Aiming to spark imagination within the farming community around what farmers can do to combat climate change and biodiversity loss and to bring the climate action discussion to the Ploughing Championships’ broader agricultural audience, the wall proved to be a tangible tool that really worked by telling a story in an engaging, visual way.
“It was amazing, where people came back to see their voiced opinion, visual on the wall. And I think that was a big draw. You know, it wasn’t in a paper document. It was laid out, people could see it… there wasn’t a right or a wrong.” – Niamh Foley, beef farmer from Blennerville.
“It’s given me the drive to make changes that I thought were never possible”
With knowledge gathering and information sharing at the heart of the project, the participants visited several innovative farms, renewable energy facilities and sustainability-focused initiatives like Green Gas, an anaerobic digestion facility in County Limerick; and the Kerry Woollen Mills in Listry, where a recently installed micro-hydro scheme provides renewable energy to run the woollen mills, reducing the carbon footprint of the enterprise.
“The project has been absolutely fantastic. One of the main benefits has been the sharing of information – the sharing of knowledge has been huge. We went on many great visits to innovative farms and green initiatives that I would never have visited otherwise, because I thought I couldn’t apply their practices to my farm. Next month, I’m going planting about 500 native trees just to thicken up our hedges. It’s given me the drive to make changes that I thought were never possible on my own farm.” – Niamh Foley.
Seamus agus Lís Uí Chiobháin. Photo: Lisa Fingleton
Guthanna ón nGort / Voices from the Fields
The project concluded in January 2023 with the premiere of a series of short films – Guthanna ón nGort / Voices from the Fields – recounting the experiences and thoughts of the project’s participating farmers. The films were directed by Lisa Fingleton, filmed by Chris Garrett, and edited by Clint Fitzgerald.
It’s hoped that the legacy of Corca Dhuibhne Inbhuanaithe – A Creative Imagining will be that it inspires farming communities beyond the Dingle Peninsula to make changes to their farming practices in ways that will meaningfully combat climate change and reduce emissions.