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18 Dec, 2023

Garni Baroni's Journey: From Diaspora to Homeland

2 min read

Garni Baroni's story is a powerful narrative of a diasporan returning to his roots and finding a deeper purpose. Born to Armenian parents who nurtured a strong cultural identity within him, Garni's journey from the diaspora in Los Angeles to the mountains of Armenia is one of discovery and fulfillment.

Despite growing up surrounded by Armenians in Los Angeles, Garni never felt the need to join Armenian organizations until he participated in Birthright Armenia. This was a pivotal moment that propelled him towards his ancestral land, Armenia, a place he had longed to visit since childhood.

Armenia: A Dream Realized

Garni's encounter with Armenia started with a family trip in 2010 that left him "hooked." Eager to return and delve deeper into Armenian life, he saw Birthright Armenia as the perfect opportunity to integrate into Armenian society, not as a tourist but as a member. His experience with an archaeological dig through Land and Culture was transformative, offering him a unique window into village life and local interactions.

In 2018, Garni moved to Armenia with the initial plan of a short stay to renovate a small house in a village. However, life had other plans, and what was supposed to be a few months turned into over five years. "One thing led to another, and I've been here for over five years,” Garni explains. This unplanned permanence signifies the depth of his connection to Armenia.

Garni's aspiration of establishing a homestead in the Armenian mountains took shape in the form of Hovk Farms. He was drawn to Hovk for its captivating natural beauty and the peaceful seclusion it provides. Despite challenges in construction and the scarcity of skilled labor in villages, he successfully transformed his dream into reality. "The construction of Hovk Farms has been a journey spanning over three years, far exceeding our initial time expectations. Our greatest accomplishment lies in completing the house and establishing a fully functioning farm,” he says.

Beyond Personal Gain

For Garni, living in Armenia transcends personal fulfillment. It's about being part of a collective goal and contributing to the country's progress. "Living with that understanding brings great fulfillment to my life that I believe is difficult to find elsewhere," he states. His journey with Birthright Armenia was instrumental in viewing Armenia not just as a piece of heritage but as a place for growth and contribution.

Garni's life in Armenia is a vibrant tapestry of projects. He is currently involved in setting up a climbing gym with fellow Birthright alumni and foreign investors, producing short documentaries, and contemplating a return to ceramics. He describes his life in Armenia as "a crazy adventure," indicative of the dynamic and fulfilling life he has built here.

Garni Baroni's story is a testament to the power of heritage and the call of the homeland. His journey from the bustling streets of Los Angeles to the tranquil mountains of Hovk in Armenia is not just a physical transition but a journey of self-discovery and commitment to a greater cause. Through Birthright Armenia, Garni found a pathway to reconnect with his heritage and contribute meaningfully to his ancestral land, a story that inspires and resonates with many in the Armenian diaspora seeking to rediscover their roots.


For more insights into the tranquil beauty of Hovk Farms and to explore planning your stay, visit them on Facebook and Instagram.

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