Irish surfer Fergal Smith goes from jetsetter to pig farmer


Irish surfer Fergal Smith has gone from jetsetter to pig farmer, giving up his pro surfer lifestyle to live off the land in Ireland. He has ceased all air travel, converted his van to run on home-sourced biofuel, stopped using his Jet Skis, and started to organically grow all his own food—to the point where he is looking to become completely self-sufficient. "I'm aiming to do one shop for the entire year, and if I travel overseas it will be in my sailboat," Smith told GrindTV.

Smith, 25, is one of Ireland's best and most recognized surfers. For the past five years Fergal had been paid to travel the world to surf some of the world's most dangerous waves. After scouring waves in Tahiti, Hawaii, and Australia throughout the year he would return home every winter to surf Ireland's renowned big-wave spots. In fact, it was Fergal's pioneering efforts at waves such as Aileens, Rileys, and Mullaghmore that put Ireland well and truly on the big-wave map.

Fergal Smith at the wave he discovered, Rileys.
Fergal Smith at the wave he discovered: Rileys

In recent years, however, Fergal has been devoting more and more time to his other passion: sustainable living. "I realized the impact I was having on the earth and wanted to change the way I lived," Smith said. His changes were emphatic and meant sacrificing many of the perks of his career as a professional surfer.

Fergal Smith
Fergal Smith and the star of the second episode of “Growing, Holly the Pig.”

The results of this sustainable year can be seen in his web series called “Growing,” in which Fergal showcases his horticultural skills, his love of pigs, and his continued commitment to surfing Ireland's biggest and most hollow waves. "We have a responsibility to the planet," says Fergal, "and I'm just trying to minimize my own impact. It's pretty simple, really." While many surfers have said the same thing, very few are actually changing their lives to make it happen. Fergal Smith's approach to waves has always been unique in the surfing world; now his lifestyle is, too.

No more first class flights to far off destinations, for Fergal Smith its all about living local.
No more first class flights to far-off destinations—for Fergal Smith, it’s all about living local.

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