The joys and ben­e­fits of grow­ing your own

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS -

About a decade ago, Michael Kelly (be­low) had an epiphany in an Ir­ish su­per­mar­ket while buy­ing Chi­nese gar­lic. Surely it was pos­si­ble to grow gar­lic in Ire­land in­stead of fly­ing it across the world? This gar­lic mo­ment led to Kelly found­ing GIY Ire­land, an acro­nym for grow it your­self. Since then, he and his team have been on a mis­sion to ed­u­cate peo­ple about the joys and ben­e­fits of grow­ing your own.

In Septem­ber 2016, af­ter rais­ing the nec­es­sary funds of more than ¤1 mil­lion, they opened a café and food ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre called Grow HQ on Dun­more Road, right across the road from Water­ford Hos­pi­tal and just down the road from a large su­per­mar­ket.

“When we were orig­i­nally plan­ning Grow HQ,” Kelly told a gath­er­ing of the Ir­ish Food Writ­ers’ Guild on a re­cent visit, “we had wanted to be down a

All the veg­eta­bles served in the café are grown by Mee and his team. The menu is mostly or­ganic, largely plant-based, strictly sea­sonal and very cre­ative. It’s not ex­clu­sively veg­e­tar­ian, with lo­cal sup­pli­ers such as TJ Crowe’s and Dun­more Fish Shop bring­ing the pork and fish re­spec­tively.

“Work­ing here has pushed me to be very cre­ative,” says Dubois. “Out of re­spect for the the grow­ers and the sup­pli­ers, I use as much of the prod­ucts as I can. My com­post bin has never been emp­tier.” That sense of us­ing every part of the pro­duce shines bright in a de­li­cious cup of vi­brantly green and tasty radish leaf soup. There is a sweet green-onion jam that they also sell in the shop, ideal for a cheese plate or as a sand­wich filler.

There are sal­ads of red chard with Ard­sal­lagh goat’s cheese and quiche us­ing Jane

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