Grants for local food growers

The Get Ireland Growing Fund run by GIY (Grow It Yourself) in partnership with Energia have announced the winners of the grants for 2017. . Picture: Patrick Browne
The Get Ireland Growing Fund run by GIY (Grow It Yourself) in partnership with Energia have announced the winners of the grants for 2017. . Picture: Patrick Browne

Three Antrim food growing projects have received a grants windfall from the Get Ireland Growing Fund run by GIY (Grow It Yourself) in partnership with Energia.

Grants are being awarded to the successful food growing projects planned by community groups, schools and not-for-profit organisations all across the country.

The teams behind 85 community projects, including three in Antrim, are all being granted with funds for their unique plans with funding amounts ranging from €500 to €2,000.

One funding award is going to Springhill Primary School to develop outdoor play facilities which includes a school gardening area with around eight raised beds of different sizes.

The team there said: “We would like to use the funding to purchase seeds, fruit bushes and fruit trees and other gardening equipment. We would also like to source some training to teach us how to grow fruit and vegetables and make the most of the facilities we have.

“Pupils and staff members will directly benefit from working outside in the fresh air, learning new skills and food education. Pupils will hopefully share this knowledge and interest in growing with their families. The garden area is accessible to everyone visiting the school and we would like to involve families in activities whenever possible.”

A funding award also goes to the ‘Berries and Blooms Allotments’ in Antrim. Berries and Blooms has 30 plots and is a communal growing area, polytunnel and space for an orchard. Cooking sessions are held in a community house including making preserves and soups, which the team hope to sell at a local market.

They said: “We wish to start a social enterprise to fund the communal growing/cooking element of the project. Funding will pay for vegetable seeds, plugs, fruit trees/bushes, jars, lids etc., to get us started in our first year. This will help financial sustainability in the future years.”

The third to benefit in Antrim are ‘Grow for Therapy’. The team behind the Trust said they have given over a small plot within the garden of the inpatient mental health ward to turn into a vegetable plot for patients to learn and benefit from gardening.

They said: “Due to the lack of health service money we need to obtain some funding to get the project off the ground.We would like to show the Trust that this is cost effective and patient centered and role out the project to the other inpatient mental health units. We would then like to obtain an allotment for patients to be referred to after discharge, which is funded by creating a charity status.”

Founder of GIY Michael Kelly said: “We are delighted to award the recipients of the 2017 Energia Get Ireland Growing fund. These types of projects usually struggle to find funding and supports.”