President McAleese launches first growing your own food conference

THE days of the vegetable garden and the allotment are back as new times give birth to a new spirit beyond anger, indignation and disappointment, President Mary McAleese noted when she opened the first national conference in Dublin of GIY – Grow it Yourself.

She said part of that new spirit is captured in the GIY movement and in the need to connect with values and ways of living which are sustainable, life-enhancing, family and community oriented.

At the simplest level, GIY is about growing your own food. Until relatively recently it was what everyone did, even in cities.

But then life suddenly became a lot busier, convenience foods became a lot more accessible.

“Or as a market survey carried out on behalf of An Bord Bia concluded, the time-poor consumer is veering towards convenience and instant gratification.

“And then life changed again as we rapidly came to terms with the stark realities of recession, unemployment and indebtedness after a period of rapid growth, nearly full employment and a consumer giddiness which had lost touch with value for money,” she said.

President McAleese said nothing will ever give you as good value for money as the seeds sown in your garden that grow to meals shared around a family table or to a harvest of good healthy foods shared with neighbours and friends.

“There is something innately honest about digging your own potatoes or picking blackcurrants or snipping cut and come again lettuce or making desserts with your own apples and rhubarb, swapping your pears with neighbours who have great sweet plums.

“There is a satisfaction in it that is altogether different from opening a packet or a tin. There is, of course hard work, patience and the prospect of failure involved for we have these things called weather, soil and pests. These introduce a series of random or chance factors into the life of the avid gardener but once your back gets used to the hoeing and digging, the composting and manuring, there is excitement and fulfilment, pleasure and pride.”


I’d always promised myself a day off school when Gay Bryne died.Secret diary of an Irish teacher: I’ve been thinking about my students, wondering who their ‘Gay Byrne’ will be

In an industry where women battle ageism and sexism, Meryl Streep has managed to decide her own destiny – and roles, writes Suzanne HarringtonJeepers Streepers: Hollywood royalty, all hail queen Meryl

'Ask Audrey' has been the newspaper's hysterical agony aunt “for ages, like”.Ask Audrey: Guten tag. Vot the f**k is the story with your cycle lanes?

Daphne Wright’s major new exhibition at the Crawford addresses such subjects as ageing and consumerism, writes Colette SheridanFinding inspiration in domestic situations

More From The Irish Examiner