Life in the soil

Over the last winter I have been working with a group of like-minded people, doing an online course in Sustainable Community Development. It has been a very interesting experience and I have learnt a lot. The added benefit has been getting to know other members of my community and working on projects together. It gave me the opportunity to work with, and get to know Marie Loviny. I have known about Marie for some time but hadn’t had the chance to meet her properly before.  During the course we were asked to think of a project (or two or three) and Marie has become the driving force of one of our projects, our Baltimore Community Market. Marie was born in Moulle, a small village in the north of France but at the age of 10 moved with her family to South Eastern France, the Ardeche. She loved Art but decided to study Landscape Management, a course that gave her the opportunity to do lots of drawings and would maybe offer better job prospects: After which she worked in the local Tourist office for three years. Though she really loved her job she had itchy feet and decided to go travelling.

She wanted to improve her English so Ireland was a good destination for that and she found a place working as a volunteer gardener on The Inish Beg Estate where she spent three happy months. Having no transport she barely went into Baltimore on that, her first trip. More travelling followed but the draw back to Baltimore was strong. She was offered a part time job at Inish Beg and decided to return, this time throwing herself into the hurly burly that is Baltimore in the summer and getting a job in The Waterfront. Between them, these two jobs have continued to keep her busy over the last few years.

Wanting to learn more about growing, in 2019 Marie enrolled on the Permaculture course in Kinsale but because of Covid she had to finish the course online. Nevertheless, she made some great contacts and met some very interesting people. She had work experience with Madeline McKeever (Brown Envelope Seeds) and still works for her one day a week.

A couple of years ago Marie had the chance to start a garden project of her own; a friend offered her a piece of land to grow on. She fenced it off from rabbits and put up her own tunnel. At first it was just to feed herself but very soon she found that she had enough for friends and started to sell veg boxes and salads to friends and locals. It gave her a chance to learn and realise that this is really what she wants to do. For Marie, it is all about the soil – healthy soil grows healthy crops and she grows organically using a no dig system.

Sadly, she lost the first tunnel in Storm Eunice. Her first plot is very exposed but luckily she had just moved to a house situated in a much more sheltered area with space to put up another tunnel and ground  to grow outside as well.

So she’s back in business now with the two plots but she would ideally love to buy a small piece of land where she could develop her ideas and concentrate on improving the soil and increasing biodiversity.

Marie has been essential in the creation of our community market in Baltimore, she is committed to producing and providing local food for our local community and encouraging others to do the same. Fresh seasonal food with no food miles and low impact on the environment.

She can be found selling her vegetables and salad, every Sunday in Baltimore Community Hall from 11am.

Jean Perry

Jean Perry is the owner of Glebe Gardens in Baltimore in West Cork.

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