Teaching Growth. Teaching Green
Greenside Up is a social enterprise based on the Carlow/Kilkenny border in South East Ireland that was created in 2009 to help promote the “grow your own” ethos and raise environmental awareness. Greenside Up helps people to garden without chemicals, to consider biodiversity and food waste and to live more co-sufficient lifestyles with an emphasis on community food growing.
Founder Dee Sewell, travels to communities and gardens, advising, speaking and educating people about how to grow herbs and vegetables in recycled containers, directly into the soil or in professionally built raised beds. She’s particularly interested in the transformative effect community gardens can have on individuals and the places they live.
Who’s Behind Greenside Up?
Hello, I’m Dee, the inspiration and driver behind the social enterprise. I’m a member of the Chartered Institute of Horticulturalists and a qualified transformative community educator who has a passion for the environment, growing vegetables and self-sufficiency.
With friends living in County Kilkenny and my Dad threatening to ‘move back’ for all of my childhood years, my husband Ian (Mr G on the blog) and I finally moved to Ireland in 1998 with a desire to leave the rat race and become fully self-sufficient; a dream we’re still chasing.
We were married for just a month when we packed our bags, sold our motorbikes and sailed across the Irish sea, moving from a busy north Essex town to rural, upland Carlow. Once here, we began renovating an old semi-derelict farmhouse ourselves, growing fruit, herbs and vegetables, had three children and made a home for our new family and animals in the hills.
‘Once a Gardener’
Mum and Dad were both keen gardeners; mum loved her ornamentals and I was often called outside to help with the weeding. I remember Dad straining grapes through old (clean!) tights in the kitchen to make wine or pottering around in the greenhouse he inherited.
My first teenage weekend job was working in a village greengrocers filling customers bags with fruit and veg, and I’ll never forget spending a hot, sweaty summer sideshooting and defoliating tomatoes in one of the many greenhouses on a local farm. After I left home I grew herbs in containers that could be moved from house to house. Looking back, fruit and veg were always in my life.
As a result, when our youngest child started school, I began thinking of a change of career . I returned to full-time education as a mature student and studied horticulture, returning once more in 2017 to higher education to increase my skills as well as undertake a professional development course in Transformative Community Education. As a result of everything I’ve learnt, we’re now doing our best to ‘live the life’ of self sufficiency but it’s easier said than done with the juggle of our own teens, work and life in general.
What we do
The Greenside Up office and gardens are based between Carlow and Kilkenny, 100 km south of Dublin and 1,000 feet up in the hills. As a result Greenside Up travels to wherever people want to learn – in their own homes, gardens, allotments or communities, thus helping to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible.
Dee has experience working with people across the full social economic spectrum as well as under fives, teenagers, people with addictions, psychiatric and intellectual difficulties. She’s a qualified tutor with the Carlow Kilkenny Education Training Board and a tranformative community educator.
Dee uses social media to share her knowledge. She strongly believes that customer service should extend beyond the first visit and therefore follows-up with newsletters, updates on all the popular social media sites and is a prolific blogger. This was recognised in 2012 when the Greenside Up blog secured finalist positions in both the Social Media Awards and the 2012 Blog Awards Ireland, and then in 2013 Dee was crowned Best Overall Blogger as well as winner of three category awards at the Blog Awards Ireland ceremony held in October, all of which helps to spread the growth and green word.
Dee works with customers in their own gardens, as well as out in the community, offering private or publicly funded workshops in Family Resource Centres, community and parish centres, private guest houses, the HSE, Rural Development, Kilkenny Leader Partnership and Ossary Youth. A portfolio of Dee’s community garden activities can be found here.
As a result of Dee’s experience helping beginners learn how to grow their own, she created the monthly projects for the GIY Ireland Operation GIY Nation and has written articles for My Kids Time, as well as guest blogs and online magazine articles.
Dee has given garden talks to Garden and Flower Clubs, at Rothe House in Kilkenny, the Taste of Carlow Food Festival, Savour Kilkenny Food Festival and for staff at both the EPA in Wexford and the Irish Stock Exchange in Dublin. Dee has also spoken at the Convergence Festival in Dublin about the sustainability of our current food systems, at Electric Picnic and at the Waterford Social Enterprise Day.
Community Gardens Ireland
With a passion for community gardening, in 2011 Dee was instrumental in founding Community Gardens Ireland that was established to support community gardening in Ireland and Northern Ireland. She voluntarily coordinates and promotes this group on press and radio as well as administers the Website, Facebook and Twitter pages.
CG Ireland aims to meet quarterly in different towns and cities around the island and are supported by Dublin Community Growers, Transition Ireland & Northern Ireland, The Organic Centre, GIY Ireland and The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. For more information take a look at the Community Garden Ireland website.
In 2013 the Community Gardens Ireland entered a Postcard Garden in Bloom – Bord Bia’s Garden and Food Festival held in Phoenix Park in Dublin, a project that Dee was involved in from the beginning.
What does the green mean in Greenside Up?
An integral part of the business ethos is a commitment to recognising the importance of protecting our environment, and helping others do likewise.
Without compromising on customer service, all course notes are initially offered by email and in the event that they are printed, paper is sourced from sustainable forests or recycled.
Greenside Up actively promotes vegetable gardening without the use of artificial chemicals, and positively encourages wildlife and pollinators into gardens.
As well as growing vegetables, customers are encouraged and advised how to reduce their landfill, to stop food waste by composting and recycling, they learn about beneficial insects, biodiversity, companion planting, water conservation, the impact of using peat and informed about genetically modified organisms.
If you’d like to get in touch and find out more about what we do and how we can help you, contact Greenside Up.
To keep up to date with workshops, things to do and grow in the vegetable garden or the latest Greenside Up articles, sign up for the newsletter to receive monthly updates.
Greenside Up is a Registered Company No. 388060