herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Swine of the times as Ella gives lessons in keeping city pigs

RTE presenter Ella McSweeney will be hosting her own classes for Dubliners eager to learn about rearing pigs in urban areas, just like her.

The Ear To The Ground star has been rearing her own pigs for nearly two months, even creating her own 'pig arc' for them out of scratch -- all in her Blackrock home.

Ella (32) told the Herald: "It's been amazing, I've had them for nearly 10 weeks now. I love looking at them, they're actually hilarious. They are the most fun, creative, stubborn, wilful creatures -- qualities that really rarely come across in animals."

In spite of their reputation as being unkempt creatures, Ella insists pigs are the easiest animals she has taken care of. And she is so impressed that she will be hosting the course along with a farming expert.

"I will be running a 'Pigs in the City' course. I've already run a hen course. It's amazing how many people are interested and anyone that wants to do the course can contact me at glaslower@gmail.com.

"I hold it here in the house. I have a farmer friend, Ronan Byrne from Galway, who will be running it with me. I'd love to set up a network. I'm really keen to hear from other people keeping pigs in urban areas, too.

"I suppose I just feel very passionately that the future of food production can come from our back gardens, our back yards, communal spaces in urban areas and that farming is for everyone -- rural and urban.

"Keeping pigs has been one of the most satisfying and interesting things I've done and I've been overwhelmed by the number of people interested in keeping them themselves."

The TV star has managed to pursue her new passion on a small budget and intends sharing what she's learned with others.

"I will be teaching the basics, I've read and researched a lot on the topic. But this will be for people living in urban areas -- and I'm doing this all on a low budget.

"I built their house, I've sourced food from local greengrocers. This is a project with a bit of a mission. I'm not spending money where I don't have to."

Ella admitted that she is not forming any emotional attachments to the animals.

"I don't call them anything, I'm rather unemotional about the whole thing. They're there for a reason and that reason is food," said Ella, who is planning to take a butchery course in Ballymaloe.

"I'm under no illusions but this is an amazing experience. And the fact that they're so tasty is another bonus."

cmcbride@herald.ie

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