• Danny Joyce | Editor

Energia Partners with GIY for Sixth Year to Reinvigorate Communities Post Lockdown

This year Energia Get Ireland Growing aims to sow the seed of community food growing by giving away 300 community growing starter kits across Ireland worth €42,500.

COVID-19 made people re-evaluate how important local communities are to people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Green spaces became a sanctuary for most people during the pandemic, particularly in the height of lockdowns and for those without a garden. As Ireland continues to reopen and normalise, Energia and GIY hope to encourage communities to regenerate green spaces in their local areas and further ignite community spirit and connection.

Caroline Foran’s - 3 Benefits of Gardening

1. MindfulnessGetting involved in gardening is one of the most effective and enjoyable ways to practise mindfulness, which we know contributes massively to overall well-being. Getting your hands dirty - connecting with the earth literally - it's just so grounding. Couple that with being outdoors and you're far less likely to be distracted by your phone or any other technology. We all want more work/life balance but it's becoming increasingly hard to switch off with so many disruptions and distractions coming at us all day long. Connecting with nature is like a fast track pass to unwinding after a long day sat in front of screens. Simply connecting with nature helps to boost the feelgood hormones in our minds and bodies.’ 2. Connecting with othersFew things boost our well-being like good friendships and relationships, we're social beings and and as far as our happiness is concerned, it's not just a nice-to-have, we absolutely need social connection to thrive. Gardening offers ample opportunities to connect with others especially within our community. It’s great to be able to rally a group together and get stuck into the task at hand. It could be sprinkling a few seeds while having a catch up or sharing what you’ve grown, it really brings people together which is so needed after spending go long apart.’ 3. Gardening as a stress relieverThe accumulation of daily stress leads to a lower threshold for coping and a shorter fuse. By practicing relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing, meditation and being exposed to greenery quietens a racing mind which reduces stress hormone levels. The Japanese expression "shinrin-yoku" can be translated as "forest bathing," which nicely captures the experience of being immersed in green. Studies have found evidence that being out in greenery, or even being able to look out on a green landscape, is linked with better stress management and reduced anxiety.’ Bestselling author of Owning It and The Confidence Kit, Caroline Foran said: “I noticed a massive rise in anxiety due to the ongoing pandemic and a lot of people who have never felt anxiety before suddenly felt it. Energia Get Ireland Growing aims to stimulate conversation and inspire action across communities in Ireland, by encouraging people to start growing and strengthening their community spirit and personal wellbeing. Activities like gardening and growing your own food gives you a chance to focus on something and put your mind to work with a goal and a task in mind and is a great opportunity for bonding with your family and friends. The happiness and stress relief of an activity like growing food and seeing something come to life, provides a great opportunity to connect with loved ones.” Commenting on the Get Ireland Growing initiative, Sponsorship Manager at Energia, Lorna Danaher said: “We are passionate about helping communities across Ireland become more sustainable and connected. We know more people are increasingly interested in trying to live a more sustainable life but are not always sure how or where to start. Energia and GIY have shared goals in wanting to support communities to be more resilient, connected, and sustainable, ensuring our legacy to future generations is a positive one. Mick Kelly, Founder of GIY, said: “Growing food as a community has always been a part of Irish culture. This year, Energia Get Ireland Growing is all about getting back to growing food together and reconnecting with nature by recapturing the skills and reaping the rewards of growing your own food. It is about bringing to life the spaces we share and tending to the communal plot. As we are coming into summer it’s the perfect time to start planting some of our favourite vegetables and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Energia again to help in our mission to bring food growing back to the heart of the Irish community. Let’s nurture what’s in our nature and Get Ireland Growing again

How to get involved: If already part of a community group for example, a resident’s association, a Men’s Shed, a Tidy Town Association, a parent’s association, or an environmental community network, now is your chance to bring growing into your group activities. If you are not yet part of a community group, you can still take part. Bring the idea to the friend group – bring seeds along to the coffee morning or evening book club. Then, plan your activities. You could plant in each other’s gardens or host a growing morning together to swap seedlings. You could go one step further and see if there is a local vegetable patch in your community or a local star grower that you can learn from. For your local community groups, consider your local sports groups, residents associations, and connect with your county council. To register with Get Ireland Growing and be in for the chance of winning a Community Growing Kit that contains seeds to share with your group, please visit www.getirelandgrowing.ie Energia Get Ireland Growing was first launched in 2016 to promote community food growing projects nationwide. Through this initiative, Energia has supported over 250 community groups with grants totalling €220,000. The recipients include schools, NGOs and Not for Profits, community gardens and allotment groups, GIY groups, hospitals, crèches, direct provision centres and men's sheds across the country. For further information visit the Get Ireland Growing website at www.getirelandgrowing.ie and share your seed growing pictures across social using #GetIrelandGrowing, and follow the Get Ireland Growing campaign through @EnergiaGIG on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


Slán go fóill,

Danny