This weekend saw the largest annual get together of fruit and veg growing enthusiasts in Ireland at the GIY Gathering and Street Feast. As part of the Waterford harvest food festival, whether you like eating food, cooking it, watching other people cook it , listen to people talk about it or just growing it, Waterford was the place to be.
I would love to have been there for the whole weekend and participated in many of the delights on offer. The mile long street market, cookery demos, the massive Barbecue gig, let alone the GIY feast and the expert Q and A session with gardening greats on the Sunday, but due to the usual parental taxi juggle could only make it for the Saturday – the GIY gathering – and am so glad I was there for that part at the very least.
|GIY yummy lunch|
What a fabulous, well organised, inspirational day – what more could a passionate veg grower want than to be in the company of so many equally passionate veg growers for a whole day and get to listen to organic gardening heroes Joy Larkcom and Bob Flowerdew speak too??!!
GIY Ireland, a registered not-for-profit charity, was launched just two years ago and already has over 10,000 people involved and nearly 100 groups around Ireland. Their aim is to inspire people to grow their own food and give them the practical skills to grow successfully – so what better place to launch the new Community Garden Network for Ireland and Northern Ireland.
|Bob Flowerdew at the GIY Gathering, Waterford 2011|
When I started helping community gardens a couple of years ago I was under the complete misunderstanding that there weren’t many of them in Ireland.
I’d googled and searched yet could only find a handful and they seemed to be in Dublin. As time went by and I started to help more gardens set up, I became aware of a few more, but it still felt lonely out there.
Then Thomas McDonagh contacted me – he was about to undertake a bicycle tour of Ireland, visiting as many community gardens as he could (in November!) to raise money for a trip to Columbia. Thomas blogged about his travels and it was a delight to follow his journey, virtually meet the people he met and look at pictures of other community gardens around Ireland through his regular updates.
And so the seed for a network of community gardeners was planted (npi)…. after Thomas I met up with Ciaran Walsh of GIY, then Suzie Cahn of Carraig Dulra who’d helped ten community gardens in Wicklow, and momentum started to build.
It was with anticipation that on Saturday afternoon a few panelists and a room full of people sat together and discussed the need for a network group, and low and behold, in just 35 allocated minutes ten like minded individuals agreed to help get it off the ground.
We hope to meet up in the coming weeks to make plans and discuss how it will be run, but it was unlikely to happen anytime in the near future without the incredible support of GIY Ireland who will be mapping our findings on their website and hosting a forum amongst other things, and it will need the enthusiasm of fellow community gardeners to help us find everybody!
So, in the meantime if you’re involved in a community garden in the island of Ireland or know of a community garden in your neighbourhood you can leave a comment below and we’ll let you know when the map and network is up and running!