Grow HQ to be hub for a food ‘revolution’

GIY groups celebrate at new centre in Waterford

Last weekend local food was the focus not just at the Taste of Monaghan but also at the opening of the GIY (Grow it Yourself) HQ in Waterford. Liam Murtagh of Transtition Monaghan and also of Castleblayney Community Gardens Group went along to a gathering of ‘GIYers’. They were there to view the facilities at Grow HQ and meet the team of people who wll lead the revolution that is needed in reconnecting people with growing, cooking and eating local food.  

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Pictured at the opening of the Grow HQ in Waterford were Liam Murtagh, (Transition Monaghan,) Michael Kelly (Founder of GIY) and Lucy Bell, Master Grower at GIY HQ. The new Grow HQ with its green roof is in the background.

Michael Kelly was an IT professional who one day during his shopping trip bought a bulb of garlic. He happened to notice that on the supermarket’s price tag that China was given as the country of origin. He knew from his little knowledge of vegetables that garlic can be grown in Ireland so why, he asked himself, was he buying garlic that had travelled thousands of kilometres from China. This was Michael’s first lightbulb moment. He started on a journey of growing food at home and going on to found the GIY movement – an organisation dedicated to growing and promoting home grown food.

The latest stage in the GIY journey has been the completion of the €1.4m Grow HQ. It’s located near University Hospital Waterford and the Solas Cancer Centre. . Michael Kelly says that this is intentional as both the hospital and GIY are about health – one focused on treatment of disease and the other on prevention. The facilities at the Grow HQ currently include a restaurant, a shop and training rooms. Even though the grounds have only been available to GIY for growing for the past few months Lucy Bell and her team have been growing and harvesting vegetables and herbs. Many demonstration gardens have yet to be developed.

The visiting GIYers were given a tour of the gardens and a lunch comprising beetroot soup and Waterford blaas (bread rolls) along with a combination of food from the gardens and locally grown food. The event also featured the national final of the GIY Spúd Off – a potato growing and cooking competition. The winner was Gavin Mauder from Cork who grew his ‘Pink fir apple’ variety of potatoes in a bag. One of the adjudicators was Aoife Aherne, Bord Bia’s Potato Ambassador and also a panellist on RTE’s Operation Transformation. She reminded everybody of the importance of having unprocessed carbohydrates in our diet and potatoes are the ideal choice.


Michael Kelly, Founder of GIY gives GIYers a tour of the new gardens at GIYs Grow HQ


The GIY day at Grow HQ included announcements of a number of new GIY campaigns. These include an Orchard in an Hour Campaign   which will involve five fruit trees being given free of charge to the first 100 groups who apply. An announcement of a new phase of the funding under the Get Ireland Growing Fund which will support community growing projects around Ireland. The development and support of ‘cottage markets’ around the country is another project which is being developed by GIY. The motto of cottage market motto is ‘homegrown, homemade and homecrafted’.

The day concluded with an announcement of the various new one day courses which will be delivered at Grow HQ. New GIY groups are always welcome to join the GIY network. The GIY website has plenty of tips for anyone who wants to grow their own. So why not start your own GIY journey now by buying some garlic and planting it now for harvesting next year. Check out