Local food production
Grow your own produce
Why it's important
By 2050 there will be two billion more people on Earth than there are today. Today’s agriculture can’t deliver enough food to meet that need. So, change is needed to increase output across the globe. But it mustn’t be done at the expense of an increasing fragile environment. And the worlds most undernourished need help now (World Economic Forum).
Furthermore, our global food system is the primary driver of biodiversity loss which will continue to accelerate, threatening the destruction of further ecosystems and habitats, severely impacting our ability to sustain human populations unless we change the way we eat and how our food is produced.
Recent analysis by Teagasc showed that: 19% of potatoes, 95% of apples, 80% of onions, 37% of carrots, 89% of tomatoes, 50% of cabbage, 90% of lettuce and 53% of soft fruit are imported, yet many of these foods can be grown in Ireland.
With the global food system being a major driver of climate change, accounting for over 30% of total human-produced emissions, it makes total sense to see how we can grow as much as we can locally.
In 2020 the pandemic of Covid 19 demonstrated just how dependant we are on imports of food produce. In Louisburgh-Killeen-Clare Island, traditionally there was no choice only to grow your own and be self-sufficient. When modern technology, changes in farming practices and more disposable income became available, buying what you wanted to eat became the norm. Our reliance on food imports became a way of life. Eating out of season produce from thousands of miles away was normalised. But 2020 proved that this is not sustainable.
Changing how and what we eat is a win-win. There is now undisputed evidence that moving towards a more plant-based diet has huge benefits to our physical and mental well-being. What better way to encourage this change than by being part of a local movement?
What is CALL doing about it
We are committed to encouraging our local community to grow their own, source locally produced food, reduce food miles and break the myths around food production. In 2020 many people took up growing their own produce both as a hobby because of having to stay at home but also to ensure they had access to fresh produce. We are encouraging everyone to grow their own. You will not only help combat climate change but will contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
We are supporting community gardens and polytunnels in the Louisburgh, Killeen and Clare Island areas where individuals have space to grow their own fruits and vegetables and encouraging the social and well being aspect of meeting together.
We support seed to plate initiatives such as Stone Barn Café on Clare Island, whose menu is created around what is grown locally by Macalla Farm.
We aim to support more local grower networks and explore the potential of hosting a weekly food market for the surplus produce thus reducing the food miles.
We hope to host workshops around growing your own, eating seasonally, reducing waste by composting (the average Irish household produces 150 kg of food waste in a year!) and any collaborations that include the local community in education, biodiversity, food security and healthy lifestyle choices.
We have a WhatsApp group, ‘Growing Louisburgh’, to share ideas and knowledge and encourage each other to grow together. The group has 61 members (as of September 2023) and it is a great source of local information. If you live locally and want to be part of our ‘Growing Louisburgh’ WhatsApp group let us know.
Together with Louisburgh's Community Garden, a space to share and grow in the heart of Louisburgh behind the old convent, we would like to continue hosting regular events to share seeds, seedlings and excess produce. These events encourage our community to grow locally as a method for reducing our environmental impact, while saving money and contributing to their local wellbeing (garden dirt helps the soul!).
Within CALL, we would like to support and promote activities like these ones, according to what you, as a community, feel is more needed.
Please if you have any ideas of additional activities to carry out, send them over!
What can YOU do about it
- Consider growing your own, even if it is herbs or lettuce on the windowsill in your kitchen. You don’t need much space and you don’t need a polytunnel. Many edible varieties thrive in our windy, wet, exposed part of the world. Grow something you know you will eat. Prioritise items that are expensive (i.e. herbs) and/or you don’t eat the whole bag to cut on food waste (i.e. salad).
- Consider what you buy in the shops and see if you can source any of these food products locally, regionally or nationally. Are they seasonal?
- Rethink your food intake to include seasonal eating.
- Think about food waste, is it in date, will I use it soon, can I preserve it for later?
External links & Resources
Below you can find some links we find particularly useful when attempting to grow our own
has a lot of inspiration on how to grow cook and eat local food
provides Irish seeds that are right for our climate and protect our food crop heritage
chemical free, regenerative farm here in Clare Island
local group always communicating local events
Photo by Adrian Tiernan, @artaltitudesdroneworks