Michael Kelly's Waterford-based GIY is branching out and aims to establish 20 new cottage markets across the country this year. The organisation has already successfully piloted three of these markets - in Headford, Co Galway; Drogheda, Co Louth, and Ladysbridge, Co Cork. There is now an open call-out to community groups across the country to apply for a free training programme which will help them establish a market for homegrown, homemade food and craft in their local area.
A cottage market differs from a farmers' market in that it is all about bringing hobbyists and amateur producers from a local area together to showcase their often hidden skills and talents in areas such growing, sewing and baking.
"It is more community-orientated than it is commercial," says Kelly, "and it can 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 reinforced the need for Irish consumers to think more locally, and the markets will offer opportunities for GIYers with an overabundance of produce."
The initiative is supported by Ulster Bank and The Ireland Funds, which have committed €65,000 over the next two years.Successful applicants will be awarded with a tailor-made training programme, providing them with the skills they need to make a lasting success of their community market.
Social enterprise, marketing, finance and food experts will deliver training on a number of key modules, including how to set up and run a viable community market and how to grow food for a market, and will also offer tips on how to successfully market the new venture. The deadline for applications is noon on Monday, March 6. The groups behind the new markets will be selected by March 10, with the training programme taking place on March 25.
"The cottage market is a simple but fresh take on community- led markets in villages, towns and cities all over Ireland," says GIY's Community Manager, Karen O'Donohoe. "We know from our pilot projects that this initiative can be hugely successful and now we are launching the Accelerator Phase to build on that success."
Apply online at: thecottagemarket.ie/set-up-a-cottage-market
Taste of the tribes
The sixth annual Galway Food Festival will take place over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend from April 13-17. This year's theme is the relationship between 'Food & the Community'. Don't miss the chance to visit gastronomic Galway in all its glory. See galwayfoodfestival.com
Just the medicine
The Exchequer Dublin 2's Irish Penicillin cocktail, garnished with a tricolour, will cure customers this St Patrick's Day. The cocktail features Teeling Small Batch and Connemara Peated Irish Single Malt whiskeys, ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice, Irish honey and apple to keep the doctor away.
Tuck into a delicious Devonshire cream tea on 'Devonshire Day' this Sunday, March 19, in the Pugin Room at Lismore Castle, Co Waterford, then take a tour of the castle's spring gardens. Tickets are €20; tel: (058) 53803 or (058) 54975, or see facebook.com/lismoreimmrama