The doors have officially opened to the public at the €1.45million GROW HQ building, the GIY National Food Education Centre in Waterford City. The centre is the new home of the GIY movement, which was started in Waterford in 2008 by Michael Kelly.
The centre will serve as an urban grow school, cookery school, cafe, farm-shop and food gardens. And according to Michael, “It is a place where people can come to re-connect with food in a meaningful way, learn how to grow food, cook food and eat nutritional home-grown seasonal food in the GROW HQ café.”
GIY announced their ambition for the GROW HQ project in 2013 and in November of that year An Taoiseach Enda Kenny helped them to launch their fundraising campaign. The centre has been completed on a 3-acre urban site provided by Waterford Council and the sod was turned on the project in December 2015; today, some ten months later, the doors are open to the public.
The GIY team have outlined that GROW HQ is a self-sustaining social enterprise that will within the next 5 years attract 250,000 visitors, re-skill 17,000 people to grow and cook their own food and that the project has already generated 16 new jobs for Waterford.
Michaael Kelly explains: “GROW HQ will be the tool to help us deliver what is our primary goal, helping people to really understand where food comes from and removing the barriers that normally exist between where food is grown, cooked and eaten. Within the next five years it is our ambition to start a new conversation about food with over 250,000 people here at GROW HQ.”
The funding for the project has been raised by GIY through a mixture of reaching out to business partners in the private sector, loan finance, crowd funding, a community bond issue, philanthropic donations and government grants.
The GROW HQ building was designed by Solearth Architecture and includes numerous sustainability features including a sedum grass roof. The building itself is just over 360 square metres and includes a 65-seat café, shop, cookery demo room and training room. The GROW HQ café will serve home-grown, seasonal, local, organic food and it is the ambition of GIY that the café will become self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit from the GROW HQ gardens and the nearby market garden at Carriganore in Waterford. The Grow gardens are led by Head Grower Lucy Bell, the garden team includes 4 staff and volunteers.
Over the next 12 months GIY will be offering a variety of 15 different learning courses each month for adults and children, covering all aspects of growing and cooking food, nutrition and sustainable living. In addition once a month, a signature ‘GROW COOK EAT Day’ will be rolled out to take visitors on a seasonal kitchen garden journey, where they will spend some time in the garden and in the kitchen, punctuated by a home-grown lunch. In 2017 an urban foraging trail is also planned for development at the GROW HQ site.
GROW HQ will be open daily from 8am to 5pm. Further details can be found at www.growhq.org