G.I.Y. international was set up 6 years ago in Waterford by Micheal Kelly after he had an epiphany from growing a globe of supermarket garlic in his back garden. He got such a kick out of it he decided to grow more of his own food and, excuse the pun, the seeds of GIY were sown. Hungry to connect with more growers he put an ad in the local Waterford paper to see would anyone fancy meeting in the library each month to share their growers knowledge. Mick placed a couple of chairs in a circle and hoped for the best. Over 100 people turned up. He now has 50,000 members.
The GIY story is really quite remarkable, they have a mission to build a network of growers that not only fulfills those growers needs but also starts to address the broader issues facing our food supply. Their model encourages us to grow, eat and learn about healthy food, to draw from and strengthen our local communities and on a much broader scale to help protect our planet. What’s not to like?
One thing Mick Kelly, their charismatic founder and front man is brilliant at is getting influential vegetable grower types to believe in him and his organisation. He has built up an impressive collection of high profile followers who help GIY in various ways not least by appearing at their annual ‘Gathering’. I have personally been to every one and I can’t recommend them highly enough, it’s like Glastonbury for growers. The event takes place in Waterford and coincides with the annual Harvest Festival so loads of lovely local food, beer and plenty of other stuff going on to give the event a buzzing backdrop.
This year’s event will feature talks, debates and discussions over two days linked by the “Healthy Soil, Healthy People” theme. If soil and health are so deeply connected, what are the implications of our current approach to soil?
Commercial agriculture uses chemical interventions (pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers) that kill the microbial life that is so central to soil health. Microbial life includes all the beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa in a healthy soil which are responsible for breaking down organic matter and producing food your vegetables. If we take them out of the loop we end up with a dead soil unable to support plant life and, indirectly, us. More than 90% of our food comes from our soils, yet thanks to unsustainable production practices globally, we are losing 10 million hectares of fertile soil each year.
If Living Soil really is the foundation of health, what is the impact of commercial agriculture on our health?
This years speakers include some of the most influential food growers, writers, advocates and chefs to Waterford for this year’s event including Patrick Holden, Joy Larkcom, Alys Fowler, Darina Allen, Rory O’Connell, Denis Cotter, Paddy Courtney, Mark Diacono and many more. You can see the full lineup on the GIY website by following the GIY Gathering 2014 link here.
The list of speakers is incredible and that’s what makes this event so good. You listen to fascinating lectures from the very top people and then get to bump into them later and ask them about your broad beans. You will go away bursting with ideas and enthusiasm, you’ll have new ideas for your garden and will have made connections with like minded people from all over the country. The enthusiasm across the board is palpable from the expert growers sharing their knowledge to the novice gardeners keen to learn.
It was only 50 odd quid to stay in a B&B for the night and not much more for an hotel if you’re from out of town, if you’re local you have no excuse. I know I can be guilty getting over excited about things but for out the door good value this has to be the real vegetable growers event of the year. As GIY quite rightly point out where would you get so many of these top guys at one event? You wouldn’t, this is an excellent weekend.
I’ll see you there so.
For tickets please visit the GIY ticket shop by clicking the link: