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Nature can nurture us

Wednesday, 29th August, 2018 4:55pm

The inaugural VoxPro Urban Garden Festival took place last Sunday and if this first event is anything to go by, future events will be simply awesome.

VoxPro Grow is a project headed by garden expert Kitty Scully and was implemented to give employees an escape during their breaks from the desk. It seems to work a treat as the project has grown now into a full-blown festival.

The Urban Garden Festival was designed to show people that lack of space shouldn’t stop us from growing our own food.

Even coming into autumn, Susan Turner, head gardener at Ballymaloe House, showed how we could still eat freshly grown salad leaves.

Medicinal herbalist John Vaughan gathered a large crowd at his talk of medicinal herbs like nettles, dandelion, meadowsweet and other herbs that we would consider a pest rather than a remedy. It made me look differently at plants we have in the garden ourselves.

He showed us that nature is indeed looking after us well if we just let it. I will need to do some more research into it. I already make rosehip syrup every year for its amazing vitamin C to keep the flu away.

Kitty then assembled a panel of Movers and Shakers that happened to be made up of women but who really shake things up. Keelin Tobin of Cork Food Policy Council talked about the work the volunteer group is doing on the ground to change people’s perception of cheap food and where food comes from. She also mentioned the Cork Harvest Festival which is taking place in October.

Virginia O’Gara from My Goodness shared their latest plan of renting a bio digester to recycle compostable material into earth and energy, explaining that it isn’t enough to buy take-away drinks and food in biodegradable packaging if it ends up in landfills anyway. Finola McCarthy of the Bessborough Centre talked about how the courses offered by the centre help early school leavers and people struggling in general to reconnect through nature. Their courses include Horticulture (QQI level 4) where participants learn the skills needed to find employment as gardeners etc.

Last but not least was Emma Looney of St Stephen’s Sustainable Food Lab, a collective, member-led, self-funded, urban agriculture project near Barrack Street. The group of volunteers took a piece of derelict land and created a community garden where locals now come and gather.

These four ladies showed us what could be achieved when the right minds are at work. Kitty also introduced her right-hand girls Meryl Perret and Mia – as soon as Mia stood up, people started ignoring Meryl.

Mia is the most handsome and gentle dog and has gathered quite a fan base at VoxPro, proving that animals have a good effect on us humans.

There were many other talks going on with Rachel Allen’s cookery demo one of the highlights but I had to leave just before Rachel started.

But even just the few hours have inspired me and I can’t wait for next year. Congratulations to VoxPro and Kitty Scully for putting such a great festival together.


Upcoming Food Events:

1 – 9 Sept. East Cork Food Festival

7 – 16 Sept. A Taste of West Cork

7 – 9 Sept. Waterford Harvest Festival

7 Sept. Lobster Garden Party

8 – 9 Sept. Airfield Festival of Food

8 Sept. Rare Cookery Books Workshop


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