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Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

GIY HQ is a globally replicable model for sustainable food production & urban agriculture being co-created by GIY, Waterford City Council and other partners. It will be a centre of excellence for homegrown and local food, a training centre, farm shop, cafe and urban food garden.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The way the food chain currently operates has profound implications for our health and the environment . It is based on a system where nutrients in land, food and people are depleted in a never-ending drive for increased yields and there is an ever-widening gulf between food production and consumption.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

GIY's vision is for a healthy, happy and more sustainable world, where land, food and people are fully nourished. Change begins with the decision to sow a seed – if we can encourage enough people to grow some of their own food, we can create an army of people who have 'food empathy'. By growing some of our own food (even if it's only some salads on a windowsill) we get a better understanding of food - where it comes from, how it's produced. Food empathy is transformative. When GIYers engage with the food chain, they buy more seasonal food, more local food, more organic food. Their physical and mental health improves. They live more sustainably. GIY HQ will be dedicated to creating food empathy on a mass scale.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Quotes: • Increased access to healthy, seasonal, organic food. “Our whole family is eating healthier now – because the kids are involved in growing the vegetables, they don’t seem to mind eating them as much.” • GIYing has a positive effect on physical and mental health, well-being, and self-esteem. “I love being out in the garden. It just makes me feel better.” • The “virtuous circle” of home-grown and local food reduces reliance on imports and stenghtens local food economies. “Because I grow my own, I understand what’s in season. When I go to the supermarket, I buy more seasonal and local food”. • Reduced reliance on food imports reduces our carbon footprint - “I am buying fewer vegetables and when I do buy them, I buy local”

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The GIY group network is made up of interconnected food-growing groups and people united by an ethical core. Over 50,000 people and 800 individual community food projects are involved in the GIY movement currently in Ireland, UK and Australia. The movement is supported by the GIY foundation, which runs programmes & events to inspire and support GIY people and groups. Funders include Ashoka, innocent and The Ireland Funds. GIY aims to co-create an international food movement of 1 million people and 15,000 affiliated community food groups in 20 countries in the next 5 years. GIY HQ is a partnership with the City Council to create an international model for food empathy and sustainable urban food growing in Waterford. In its first years we will engage 230,000 people, reskill 17,000 people, create 25 jobs and change the conversation on food and nutrition.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

GIY HQ will have income from growing and cooking training courses for adults and children, running events, and from retail activities (shop, cafe). Food will be grown on site so as to reduce costs and create market advantage. GIY HQ is budgeted to break even within 3 years, and make a small profit by year 5. This is a unique partnership of public, private and philantrophic partners.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many organisations who are running food growing training centres around the world. However, fewer are operating such projects in urban areas, and even fewer still in such a unique site. The city of Waterford is giving GIY a 3 acre site in a high profile location in the city to develop GIY HQ. The site is surrounded by 'standard' food retailers such as Tescos, and 'standard' healthcare providers (e.g hospital, hospice etc). We therefore have a unique opportunity to change the conversation about food and health, and to do so on a mass scale.

Founding Story

GIY founder Michael Kelly had his Road to Damascus moment in a supermarket in Ireland, when he realised some garlic he was about to buy was imported from China. Being a contrary git, he decided to grow his own garlic and started his GIY journey. He soon realised however, that he wasn't very good at it. He went in search of a local food growers group so that he could learn from some real experts and get to know other like-minded folk in the area. But there was no such group, and being a sucker for a hare-brained project, Michael decided to set one up. 100 people showed up at the first meeting of GIY Waterford and the group continues to meets monthly in the city. There are now over 800 groups and projects involved in the GIY network.


Michael Kelly's picture

Can the simple act of growing some of your own food create empathy for food? If like us you believe that food growing can change the world, come join us and find out more!