FIVE years ago, a handful of people keen to grow their own food formed GIY in Wexford. Like a well tended vegetable patch, the movement has taken off with GIY groups all over Ireland, the UK and Australia – including Belfast and Bangor.
The Belfast and North Down groups are meeting at Green MLA Steven Agnew's office at Abbey Street, Bangor, next Wednesday, August 28, at 7pm, for a visit to Helen's Bay Organic Gardens developed by John McCormick, one of Ireland's leading organic growers.
GIY Ireland wants to create a 'food empathy' centre called GROW HQ - with training gardens, a cookery school, shop and cafe. "It will be a place where people will come to grow, cook and eat great, homegrown food and immerse themselves in the GIY lifestyle," says spokesman Mícheál Ó Cadhla.
"At its core is the idea that if we grow some of our own food, we develop an empathy for food. Out of this empathy comes a whole range of benefits to people's health and wellbeing.
"Our aim is to fundraise/design this year, build next year, and open in spring 2015."
The group is appealing to people to vote for it to receive funding from the Arthur Guinness Projects. Applications are decided by popular vote, with up to £45,000 of crucial funding potentially available.
"We want to really mobilise the incredible GIY network nationally to make this happen," he said. "You can register and vote at https://www.arthurguinnessprojects.com/food/grow-hq
"With your help we can create an incredible, ground breaking food empathy project to change the way people think about food forever."
To find out about joining a goup, contact Mick McEvoy, firstname.lastname@example.org (Belfast) or Noelle Robinson, 07786 620979, email noelle email@example.com (North Down).