22 February 2008

Inaugural Meeting - review

The first gathering of Dublin Food Growing took place last night and, by all accounts, it was a fantastic success. We had planned for 25 people, including the people making presentations, and were secretly hoping for as many as 40. In the end 54 people crammed into the room! The time is obviously right for this initiative.

The meeting started off with a brief introduction to the history of the initiative. Willie Morrogh had met with Morag Friel and Bruce Darrell about setting up a group to campaign for more allotments in Dublin City Council. Ideas developed about the scope and possibilities of an organisation focussed on getting more food growing in the Dublin. Cathal O'Meara came in for the second meeting, and through our discussions came the genesis of Dublin Food Growing with the overall unifying purpose of establishing "food security from the ground up". The first step was to bring in as many people as possible, to build on the great work of the existing food growing and education projects in Dublin.

This introduction was followed by 9 short presentations about a wide range of projects and initiatives:
Kaethe Burt-O'Dea - Sitric Road Compost Garden
Kathleen Curley-Clarke - Cultivate Centre
Bruce Darrell - Dartmouth Square Plot
Sinead Finn - GAP Ballymun
Darragh Flynn - Greystones/Kilcoole Community Garden Group
Michael Fox - South Dublin Allotment Association
Pat Harrington - Colaiste Bhride Secondary School, Clondalkin
Seoidin O'Sullivan - South Circular Road Garden
Erik Van Lennep - Tepui Design

A number of other people in the room were given the opportunity to talk about other projects that they are involved with.

This was followed by a discussion about the purpose and scope of this organisation. The diversity of opinions and suggestions cannot be easily summarised here, but there was overwhelming support for the benefits of an "umbrella" organisation to support existing projects and to encourage more food to be grown in the city.

Much of the discussion was around educational gardens, community gardens and allotments, and this reflected the focus of most of the people in the room. There was less of a focus on encouraging independent backyard gardening, alternative forms of urban food growing (such as rooftop gardens, vertical planting, etc.) and market gardens and other forms of commercial food growing within and around the city, but these issues were raised and seen as important to include within this initiative.

There was some discussion about the use of "food security" within the title of the organisation, as this was felt by some to be a negative aspect to something that should be approached in a very positive manner, whereas others felt that it was an unifying aspect that is becoming increasingly important. This discussion will likely continue and it highlights the diversity of opinions within this initiative.

An offer came from John Harrington to facilitate another meeting to collect and represent the sentiment of the group with the purpose of establishing a common goal that everyone can sign up to. This idea was well received and a meeting was tentatively scheduled for the 7:30pm on 25th of March, and details will be posted asap.

The other practical outcome of the meeting was the formation of a steering group that will work to get this initiative off the ground. This group includes:

Bruce Darrell
Darragh Flynn
Michael Fox
Morag Friel
David LLewellyn
Willie Morrogh
Cathal O'Meara
Seoidin O'Sullivan
Hubert Servignat

(Anyone else who is interested in being on this steering group, please email dublnfoodgrowing@gmail.com.)

The event was marred only by the absence of Morag Friel who was stuck at home with the flu. Morag had put in a huge amount of work preparing for the evening, it is a shame she could not witness the extraordinary success of her efforts.


Flynn said...

It was a great evening and a good start to an initiative that is going to develop into something really big. I meet a lot of similar minded and really interesting people. To all who had a part in the organisation, a BIG WELL DONE is due. Looking forward to the next meeting.

Bruce Darrell said...

As one of the organisers of this event, I want to thank all of the people who talked about the projects they are involved in and for keeping their presentations short. Fitting 9 presentations into one hour is quite an achievement, especially when we all had so much more to talk about. Thanks to everyone who came along and shared their experiences, opinion and most importantly offering their support and encouragement for this initiative. It is wonderful to find oneself in a very diverse and supportive community.

Happy said...

Hi Bruce and the group. I just wanted to let you know that there is a Green Building course on the same Tues (25th March) from 7-9pm in the Cultivate centre, which I hope to attend and it is the first meeting in a 10 wk course. I'm not sure but there may be other people in the group who might be attending also. What would you say if the meeting could be changed to 7.30pm on the Mon 24th March in Cultivate?

Bruce Darrell said...

I was talking with Sarah Fleming this afternoon. She had to leave the meeting early, but wanted to be added to the Steering Group. That makes ten - with a wide range of experiences and involvement