GIY (Grow It Yourself) showcase activities that protect nature and promote sustainable food systems in line with The King's environmental advocacy.
In April 2022, GIY welcomed King Charles to GROW HQ in Waterford as part of the royal visit to Ireland. The event had marked The Queen’s platinum jubilee year. The social enterprise hosted the dignitaries at their award-winning urban garden and zero waste café, in appreciation of The King's longstanding advocacy for sustainable food systems.
GIY has been supporting people in Ireland and around the world to grow some of their own food for almost 15 years. The organisation reaches over 1 million people annually through media projects, campaigns, educational products and online courses. In 2022, GIY launched operations formally in the UK as part of an ambitious plan to reach 100 million people by 2030. While domestic and community food growing holds the potential to play a significant role in food production directly, the non-profit organisation’s ethos is to promote food growing as a means to making healthier, sustainable food choices more widely.
Academic studies and GIY’s own research consistently show links between food growing and adopting more sustainable food behaviours, such as eating more plants, reducing food waste and supporting local farmers.
Speaking in advance of the visit, GIY Founder Mick Kelly commented on the values GIY shares with The King:
“The King has been practicing a sustainable approach to his own farming and gardening for several decades. He understands the crisis we’re in and the urgent need to bring nature back to the centre of how we produce food. At GIY, we have seen that growing even a very small amount of food has a profound impact on the rest of what you eat. With Spring well and truly here, there has never been a better time to get started.”
GROW HQ’s mission is to operate as a model for a sustainable food system. Almost all of the café’s fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown organically on-site, with additional food sourced from local suppliers who share GIY’s ethos. All organic waste is composted in the GROW HQ gardens and used to fertilise new crops. The urban garden serves as a carbon sink and haven for biodiversity, while inspiring visitors to eat a wide range of plants and of course, start growing their own.
The guests in attendance at GROW HQ today who greeted the Royal visitors included some of those who participate in GIY’s activities. Among them was Maria Curtin, a nurse at the nearby University Hospital Waterford, who GIY helped to create a food growing club for frontline workers in 2020 as a way to gain respite from the pandemic. 17-year-old Molly Keating also turned to GIY during the strain of lockdown, quickly sparking a garden transformation, while local teacher Brenda Cusack has created a flourishing outdoor classroom with financial support from GIY.
Welcoming the members of the GIY community to the occasion, Kelly added:
“Every GIYer is playing their part in creating a more sustainable food system. Millions of GIYers would be truly transformative, especially as we face into an immediate food security crisis and the chronic effects of climate change. We hope this part of the royal visit inspires people to take the simple but powerful action of growing it yourself.”
Founded in 2008, we support people around the world to live happier, healthier and more sustainable lives by growing some of their own food. GIYers develop what we call “food empathy” – a connection with the people and planet that put food on our tables, leading to more sustainable food choices.
- Our vision: A regenerative food system which nourishes people and planet.
- Our mission: To inspire a global movement of food growers.
- Our goal: Support 100 million GIYers by 2030, starting with a 2022 UK launch.
- Our impact: We currently reach over 1 million people per year through media, campaigns, programmes, retail and food service.