Monday 22 January 2018

Tünde going for gold with her 'grow your own' garden

Designer Tünde Szentesi in her garden ‘My Land, Your Land, Ireland’. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Designer Tünde Szentesi in her garden ‘My Land, Your Land, Ireland’. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Laura Lynott

A former office worker turned green-fingered genius has created a slice of food heaven with her agri plot at the Bloom Festival.

Tünde Szentesi (50) left behind the world of HR in Hungary when she moved to Ireland more than 10 years ago to transform her hobby of gardening into a career.

And now the garden designer, who lives in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, a three-time silver medal-winner at the event, is going for gold.

The garden, named 'My Land, Your Land, Ireland', is in the large garden category of the competition and has been designed to encourage garden enthusiasts and others to incorporate growing food on their land, no matter how big or small.

"I would like a gold medal, it is important for me," Tünde said. "But I am in a winning position to be here, build a garden and educate people on the importance of growing your own food.

"I grow my own food at home in my back garden and I have to say food is never sweeter than when you've grown it yourself."

As a small child, Tünde learnt how to grow an array of vegetables and her family, from the small rural village of Tedej, even kept livestock in a bid to live completely off the land.

"We produced all our own vegetables in the garden and we had a whole range of animals too, pigs, ducks and geese. We cooked everything from the back garden.

"I hope families come along to see my garden this year and see that even little children as young as three can start learning how to grow food. If you love gardening and are interested, it's easy and you don't need a massive amount of space to produce food. You can grow on a balcony or on a windowsill."

During the event, revellers will be treated to a cooking demo by a vegetable garden which comes complete with a scarecrow, designed by local schoolchildren, a crop and potato field and a giant sheep installation.

The sounds of a real-life farm will be brought to life with birdsong and bee sounds played as passers-by take in the experience.

A plough sits in the middle of the field alongside a traditional farmer's shed and bursts of colour complement the natural feel of the garden, with poppies, buttercups and daisies scattered around.

"I wanted to highlight where the food comes from onto our table," Tünde said.

"One of the highlights is the grass because this is how farmers and food growers produce high quality milk, dairy and meat."

The garden, measuring 10 metres by 16 metres, is sponsored by Agri Aware, a charity marking its 20th anniversary.

Separately in the Love Your Garden zone, sponsored by Bord na Móna Growise, Grow Your Own foodie Lilly Higgins and horticultural encyclopaedia Peter Dowdall will take to the main stage for an interactive demo on Saturday.

The flora and fauna displays at the Phoenix Park are almost prepared ahead of the five-day festival which begins tomorrow and will include 22 show gardens, 13 postcard gardens, 50 floral and botanical art displays and 110 food and drink stands.

Irish Independent

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