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Thursday 14 December 2017

GIY plans a network of 20 'cottage' markets

At the launch of the Cottage Market Fund is founder of GIY Michael Kelly and the GIY community manager Karen O'Donohoe.
At the launch of the Cottage Market Fund is founder of GIY Michael Kelly and the GIY community manager Karen O'Donohoe.
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Bustling cottage markets packed to the rafters with all sorts of mouth-watering locally sourced treats and hand-crafted products are set to help make rural Ireland great again.

Last week, Grow It Yourself (GIY), a not-for-profit social enterprise that supports people to grow their own food, launched an exciting nationwide drive to fund the setting up and running of 20 new rural markets across the country.

The aim of 'The Cottage Market' initiative, supported by Ulster Bank and The Ireland Funds to the tune of €65,000 over the next two years, is to put home-made, home-grown food, and craft back at the heart of communities.

Successful applicants will be awarded with a tailor-made training programme to ensure the markets' success and longevity into the future.

The training will be delivered by social enterprise, marketing, finance and food experts and will also offer crucial advice on how to successfully advertise the new venture.

Karen O'Donohoe, GIY's community manager, said the programme is a "simple but fresh" take on community led markets currently operating in villages, towns and cities nationwide.

"We know this initiative can be hugely ­successful. We piloted the programme with three markets in Ladysbridge, Drogheda and Headford, and now, with funding from the ­Ulster Bank skills and opportunities fund and The Ireland Funds, we are launching the accelerator phase that will build on the success of the pilot."

She said the cottage market concept differs from a farmer's market as it is all about bringing hobbyists and amateur producers from a local area together to showcase their often hidden talents at growing, sewing or baking.

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Michael Kelly, GIY founder, said the enterprise is more community oriented than commercial.

"The creation of these cottage markets will begin to satisfy the ever-increasing interest and demand from Irish consumers for locally grown and locally sourced food.

"The recent scarcity of vegetables on the supermarket shelves has certainly reinforced the need for Irish consumers to think more locally. In addition, these cottage markets will offer great opportunities for 'GIYers' with an overabundance of produce," he said.

The deadline for applications is March 3. The groups behind the 20 new markets will be selected by March 10, with the training programme due to commence on March 25.

Community groups nationwide are now invited to apply online via www.thecottagemarket.ie in order to avail of funding.

Applications from existing market operators whose markets meet 'The Cottage Market' criteria will also be accepted.

* Kilkenny Macra will host an open and frank discussion on mental health awareness at a special event in the city.

Organisers say the aim of the event, taking place at the Springhill Court Hotel, Waterford Road on Friday at 7.30pm, is to inform young people, both members and non members, of services available within the rural youth organisation.

Colette Power, competitions secretary for  Kilkenny Macra, said it is incumbent on all club and county officers to reach out to any members that they feel may be struggling with their well-being.

“Macra is all about young people and we need to make sure everyone in our clubs is aware of the services that are readily available to them.”

“I hope this event encourages all our club and county officers to take stock of any of our members who might be quietly struggling with an issue and to offer support and assistance,” she said.

Guest speakers on the night will include Linda Thorpe of Mental Health Ireland, Angela O Connor of Teac Tom Kilkenny, Cara O’Mahony of the Rural Youth Initiative and a representative of Pieta House.


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