We are Steve and Claire Collins and after an intense period of humanitarian work in Sudan, took a trip to West Cork. During a mountain walk, we came across a deserted farm and soon after, at the start of 2005, we became the owners of Cuibín, Derry Duff with a plan to renovate the land and run an organic mixed farm holding. We left our home in Dublin and have gradually been bringing the disused land back to productivity and making the place habitable, installing a water catchment and purification system and mains electricity (after four years living off-grid). Shortly after our wedding at the farm, where 350 guests braved the midsummers torrential rain to party till dawn, our first child, Seán, arrived, followed quickly by Cara and then Conor.
Steve initially lived in a small caravan, powering his laptop with his car charger to run his aid organisations. He soon built a 5m x 6m wooden shed which became our home and office for the next eight years. As our family grew, we converted two old outhouses close to the shed, into a bedroom and outdoor bathroom. Meanwhile, we were designing and building our house into the side of the mountain, with huge picture frame windows. Using principles of thermal mass and solar heat gain, we constructed an airtight, well insulated, mechanically ventilated building. The main room is octagonal with a reciprocal framed roof, based on a Leonardo Da Vinci design, with the stove flue going up through a smaller reciprocal framed skylight in the centre of the room. It was a long wait, but it was worth it!
We are working to create a beautiful farm, that is ecologically diverse, carbon-negative and economically sustainable. We are producing premium quality, healthy, organic food that will improve our customer’s vitality and longevity. We aim to help re-envisage agriculture to better serve the customers, the farmers, the environment and the economy. Ultimately, we hope that we can act as an example of how farms in this area could provide viable livelihoods, whilst protecting and improving the environment. To do this, we are sharing our learning in many different ways, including welcoming people to visit and
stay on the farm.
Steve is a medical doctor with a PhD in nutrition and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Long Island, USA, he is Ireland’s first Senior Ashoka Fellow Social Entrepreneur and a global expert in the treatment of starvation. During his 30 years working to alleviate famine, he set up two organisations; Valid International Ltd and an Irish charity Valid Nutrition. He developed a community-based method for the treatment of malnutrition that is now the global gold standard. In 2019, it treated more than 5 million starving children, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Steve’s nutritional expertise and scientific methods are uniquely suited to harmonising nutrition and agriculture at Derry Duff.
Claire has worked in the humanitarian sector, working in administration, finance and overseas roles for Concern Worldwide, before setting up her own business to provide administration and event management services to charities. For the last number of years, she has been raising their three young children, Seán, Cara and Conor and project managing the build of their house, as well as managing the finances and administration of the farm operations. Most recently, Claire has designed and built a luxury lodge on the farm, which she rents out as farm stay accommodation. Although, not a natural farmer, her organisational and financial skills are invaluable in running a slick farming operation, and turning the plans for the farm into a sustainable reality.
Zibbi is originally from Poland but has been living in Ireland for the last decade. A stonemason and nursery worker by background, he has a wide range of skills that are a huge asset to Derry Duff. Zibbi brings dedication, skill and precise methods to any task; building dry stone walls, grafting apple trees, laying out and planting blueberry beds or raising trees and shrubs. He brings the vision for Derry Duff into reality through the use of his practical skills and his pure hard work. He also has an incredibly useful, in-depth knowledge of nature; whether it be foraging for wild mushrooms, defending chickens from foxes or calling swarming bees into a hive by banging wood together.
Cuibín, Derry Duff, Bantry, Co. Cork, P75 PD60, Ireland | +353 87 8540586