Peter Dowdall: How to grow your own food

No better time than now to put your green fingers to the test, says Peter Dowdall
Peter Dowdall: How to grow your own food

No better time than now to put your green fingers to the test, says Peter Dowdall

Susan Jane White teaching her boys the importance of Get Ireland Growing.
Susan Jane White teaching her boys the importance of Get Ireland Growing.

Not for one moment to take from the heartache that so many families are suffering and the pressure that many others are under, but for many of us who have not been directly affected by this virus, this has been and continues to be a very rewarding and enjoyable period. One of the benefits to emerge from this period of lockdown has been that many of us have developed a deeper appreciation of the natural world and our immediate surroundings.

There has been a substantial increase in the interest in and popularity of gardening. For many over the last number of weeks the focus of each day has been: what to have for dinner! There is no better way to understand and re-connect meaningfully with your food than by growing some of it yourself.

Now is the time to put your green fingers to the test and to grow some of your own food. Energia has partnered with not-for-profit social enterprise GIY, to give away 1,000 large GROWBoxes to people across the nation to Get Ireland Growing and help power a more sustainable future.

As well as the herb and vegetable seeds, the GROWBox also includes a bag of Irish Wildflower Beebombs which help re-create bee habitats and are vital to help this, most important of pollinators.

Growing anything in the garden is a great way to introduce the next generation to the wonders of the magical energy beneath us which we call soil and growing food has the added benefit of educating us and our children about where our food comes from and how we grow it.

Battling with kids to eat their greens is a thing of the past if they have grown those veggies themselves for they will be invested in them. Having watched and nurtured them from seed through seedling stage they will be itching to taste the fruits of their labour.

For those doing it for the first time, Karen O’Donohoe, presenter of the TV programme Grow, Cook Eat, says: “Take a moment to educate yourselves on how to grow the seeds. There are loads of resources out there, even on the seed packets and on the GIY Website”

Don’t feel obliged to grow all seeds at one time, stagger the sowing over few weeks, save some until next year or give to a few friends.

For those who may want to try something a bit different,she adds: “If I had to choose one or two vegetables for the brave, those who are willing to put in the time and effort, go with Sweetcorn or Asparagus and don’t forget, always look towards the future and if you have the space, plant an orchard.”

Growing even a small amount of your own food can have a "profound impact and inspire healthier and more sustainable food choices", according to Mick Kelly, founder of GIY.

The “Get Ireland Growing” campaign is a partnership between Energia and GIY and it aims to make it easy for people to do something sustainable by growing their own food.

The GROWBoxes are designed for all living situations whether you are in an apartment or have a garden, everyone can still grow herbs and vegetables.

Commenting on the Get Ireland Growing initiative, Energia’s Amy O’Shaughnessy said: “We’re all here to learn and grow together and if we can encourage Irish people to start sowing and growing, that’s another step in the right direction for a more sustainable future for all of us.”

The Get Ireland Growing GROWBox contains all you need to get growing straight away.

It's got loads of seeds, pots and a compost block with easy to digest resources to make it all straight-forward. Contents include five seed packs: beetroot, carrot, peas, mixed oriental greens and basil, a hessian bag of Irish wildflower beebombs (15/bag), compost, fibre seed trays, rice husk pots and Get Ireland Growing tips and recipe cards.

Bestselling Irish cookbook author Susan Jane White says: “For me food has always been such a huge part of who I am. In Ireland we seem to be going through a ‘foodie’ craze however sometimes we don’t appreciate where the food has come from and the true nutritional benefits.

As an advocate for delicious, veggie-packed meals, I’ve found involving my two boys Benjamin (10) and Marty (8) in the garden has given them responsibility and excitement through a beautiful role reversal where they get to teach me all about their plants. There is no better time than now to learn about self-sufficiency and growing your own."

For further information and to be in with a chance of receiving one of the free GROWBoxes fill out a simple registration form at

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