The current generation in Ireland is one of the first generations raised without the ability to grow food. The skills for strong self-sufficiency have been lost in today s world with increasing pressures on the global food chain. Eating has become an unthinking act of consumption or refueling, rather than the culmination of a long process of growing or rearing. Michael Kelly is trying to organize a nationwide movement to substantially increase the number of people growing their own food. He has resurrected the traditional Irish notion of the meitheal, a practice that builds a spirit of community by working collectively on individual projects much like a barn-raising to exponentially increase the number of people with the skills to grow their own food. Through this community approach, Kelly is creating a national network of local Grow It Yourself groups designed to provide a grassroots, tangible structure to the local food movement and spark new growers by capitalizing on the knowledge of mavens in the area. Michael compares his structure to that of Alcoholics Anonymous, envisioning GIY meetings available everywhere and offering a well-established open community in every town and city. Currently fielding over sixty groups with roughly 5,000 members around Ireland within a year of the program s inception, he also has interested citizens furthering expansion of the program in three foreign countries.
His organizational model facilitates viral spread his program, offering free monthly meetings consisting of group skill-sharing around gardening, focuses specifically around building community between participants, and works equally well in cities, villages, rural areas, or corporate settings. Kelly estimates that more than 70 percent of GIY attendees are beginners at growing food and gardening, with the other 30 percent experienced growers there to share skills and pick up new techniques.