The chance to have their own soup recipe to get selected for commercial production is on offer for teenagers who take up a challenge to grow their own vegetables.

Cullen Allen — better known as Cully of the food company Cully and Sully — returned to his old Waterford secondary school to launch the “Give Peas a Chance” competition yesterday.

Doing exactly what it says on the pea tin, the initiative will see up to 7,500 second-level students involved in growing their own peas.

However, as well as encouraging them to work in pairs to plant, pot and grow their own vegetables, they will be spurred by a prize pot of €5,000 to develop food entrepreneurship skills.

“Learning at our mothers’ kitchen tables gave us our passion for good food and we’re grateful for that every day,” said Cully.

A series of challenges will be set for participating students, who will be working in pairs.

The final phase will require them to use their home-grown peas for a new soup recipe.

The founder of Grow It Yourself, Michael Kelly, shares a lighter moment with Cullen Allen of Cully and Sully fame at the launch.
The founder of Grow It Yourself, Michael Kelly, shares a lighter moment with Cullen Allen of Cully and Sully fame at the launch.

Each ReciPEA for Success will be considered for a shortlist of students to be invited to a Dragon’s Den-style pitch in Waterford in May.

The two Give Peas a Chance champions will win an iPad each and a €3,000 food garden for their school.

Perhaps more prestigiously, the winning soup recipe will be produced by Cully and Sully.

It will also be served at the Grow HQ cafe of competition organisers, GIY (Grow IT Yourself).

Founded in 2008 by Michael Kelly, the Waterford-based social enterprise trains and supports people to grow and cook their own food at home, school, work and in the community.

“This initiative enables students to learn first-hand about food enterprise right from the seed onwards. We know that to make good food you need great ingredients and you can’t get better than growing your own,” said Mr Kelly.

He is also confident that Give Peas a Chance will help inspire more food start-ups in Ireland’s local food system.

Second-level schools are now being invited to take part, with growing kits ready to be sent out with everything need to grow peas, including seeds, pots, soil and growing tips from GIY.

“Pea soup may seem simple but with the creativity and ingenuity that we know Ireland’s young people have, we can’t wait to see what they come up with,” said Cully.

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