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Darina Allen: 'I think we should all go back to having our own hens'

'We had hens at home when we were children," says chef and food campaigner Darina Allen of Ballymaloe restaurant and cookery school, "so we did it here automatically."

There are 300 hens at Ballymaloe in several flocks.

For Darina, keeping hens is a virtuous circle. "Four hens is enough to keep any family in eggs. You give them the scraps after the morning cooking, and you get it back in the form of an egg 48 hours later. Plus you get their manure for the compost heap," she adds.

Darina is involved in the Slow Food Movement, and as part of their education programme they sent a coop and two hens to nine local schools in east Cork.

"At one school, it was such a hit that 20 sets of parents got hens to keep at home," says Darina.

"I think we should all go back to having our own hens and having boiled eggs with soldiers every morning."

Irish Independent