This May the very first GetGrowing course was run in the UK. For those not aware this is a hugely successful short course to teach complete novices how to start growing some of their own food, something that Amma’s is urging us to do and is one of the six InDeed pledges. The course has been developed and refined over many years by GreenFriends Ireland and is now being replicated internationally. As we found out even experienced gardeners can gain from the course, and it is good for those with a big or small gardens, an allotment or just a patio or balcony – growing veggies in pots.
To kick things off in the UK we were delighted that one of the founding teachers, Eoin McCuirc, was able to come and lead things this first time. Many will know Eoin from his sterling work in the kitchens at Amma’s Dublin, and sometimes London, events. An earlier run of the course this year in Cork allowed our own Clare Mulligan to do the course and learn the ropes and then help with the teaching in the UK.
It was intensive and yet fun, and 13 attendees for the inaugural course collected at RedField Community Centre in Buckinghamshire, a lovely converted stable block run by an established community based in the large house next door. It was necessarily residential, and the accommodation was lovely and the food cooked by Clare’s friend Tiff was wonderful.
That left the rest of us free to focus on the course: everything from planning, through sowing, structures, digging, composting, harvesting and more. A nice balance of informal classroom teaching (laced with Eoin’s wonderful humour and practical anecdotes) and hands on work outside. And we were blessed by fine weather. By the end everyone was going away with at least some vegetable seeds in small trays enclosed in a travelling greenhouse of a sealable plastic bag. So you really do ‘get growing’ (literally) as the course progresses.
Perhaps most valuable is the 100+ page teaching manual, supplied for the course and purchasable if you want to take it away. Packed with everything we learnt and more, great pictures and illustrations, and backed up by further resource pointers, this meant you didn’t have to take copious notes.
Two full days and we were done. Happy and informed. And hopefully like me most are already growing their veg (in my case some very healthy looking “Painted Lady” runner beans snaking up my simple bamboo “tipi” in a big pot).
The course itself is taught free of charge. Costs for accommodation and food for the weekend are kept really low. And it is for anyone – Amma devotee or not. In Ireland they teach it to community groups across the country. If you (or people you know) are interested in coming to a future GetGrowing course there is already one being planned for May 2017 in Somerset and hopefully more taking place later next year. You can register interest here, or contact the organisers on: