Six Champions from across the country have been announced as the winners of the Energia Get Ireland Growing initiative with GIY for 2022. In April 2022, the Energia Get Ireland Growing initiative announced the giveaway of GIY community GROWBoxes across Ireland worth €42,500.Over 800 communities took part with groups ranging from community gardens to groups of friends, badminton clubs to Women’s Sheds and more. Using these kits, communities across Ireland were encouraged to come together to become more sustainable and connected through growing food together. As the seed and information packs were distributed across the country, new food growers took up the challenges of the competition. Members of the public also had the opportunity to nominate someone for going above and beyond to support others to grow with the chance to be named their province’s ‘Energia Get Ireland Growing Community Hero’.
The 2022 prize categories and prizes included a ‘Community Hero’ winner, who have been awarded a GIY food growing starter kit. In addition, a €500 GIY voucher has been awarded to the community that hosted the most impressive gathering on July 2nd, and the ‘Best Transformation’ has been awarded to the community that has transformed a space since the beginning of the campaign, with a €1,000 cash prize.
The Leinster Community Hero is Ciarán Dowling from the Retired Active Men’s Social of Newcastle, Dublin. Ciarán has worked diligently over many years to support and enhance the village of Newcastle for the better of all residents, young and old.Ciarán is now 70, and since 1990 has been instrumental in organising a local youth club in the St Finian’s Community Centre. Ciarán and his wife Cora, maintain and plant all the bedding flowers each year in the Community planter boxes and replenish them in September with Springtime bulbs. As Chair of the Community Centre, Ciarán was concerned about the aging population, so he approached several recently retired men, with a view of starting a Men’s Senior Club. Thus, the Retired Active Men’s Social (RAMS) was formed. Ciaran persuaded the members to form a singing group, and visit hospitals, nursing homes, and to participate in local events.
Presenting the 2022 awards Founder of GIY Michael Kelly says, “The pandemic has truly shifted the mindset of the nation when it comes to learning to grow food and we are seeing more and more people who began growing at home during lockdowns bring that knowledge out into their community and begin growing and at GIY, we are delighted to support their efforts”. We are delighted to see such huge levels of interest in joining in the ‘Energia Get Ireland Growing’ initiative from communities across the country. We would like to congratulate each of the Community Heros and the community project winners on their growing success, each of the new champions has been awarded support and funding from Energia to enable them to further develop each of their food growing projects and we can’t wait to see how these evolve.”
Energia Get Ireland Growing was first launched by Energia in partnership with GIY in 2016 to promote community food growing projects nationwide. For further details please see www.getirelandgrowing.ie