Tim has been growing vegetables, fruit and herbs since he was a child, learning skills from his grandfather and father. His gardening philosophy is based on growing the things you can’t buy in the shops. Tim has been involved in several other gardens in recent years for community groups and is part of a team that designed and built a school garden, where his input is on fruit and vegetable growing.
Tim began his career with Guinness plc (prior to Diageo being formed) in 1989, as a graduate trainee in the brewing production operations. Since then, he has held a number of production, environment and quality management roles in breweries around Ireland. Presently Tim is Head of Technical, Europe Beer Supply for Diageo and is responsible for the Quality, Environmental, Risk and Regulatory agendas for the European Beer Supply operations in Ireland and the UK.
Gary Graham, AKA ‘Simon Trowel’ from RTE’s Super Garden series, is the creator and manager of Bloom. He is employed by Bord Bia to increase the production and exports of plants, Christmas trees, cut foliage and bulbs.
As a teenager, his grandfather Joe taught him how to grow vegetables in their long back garden in Bluebell Inchicore and after a summer in Caulfields gardening shop on Dame Street he was hooked on hort!
He trained in the Bots in Glasnevin and after an internship in Chicago Botanic Gardens he came home and worked in both interior and exterior landscaping, before realising that it was “too much like hard work”.
Gary recognises the pivotal role that GIY can play in reconnecting the old and introducing the young to the joys and benefits of growing. He believes that time spent working in the garden benefits the mind, the body and the soul. “I garden therefore I am”
Feargal has been interested in back garden self-sufficiency for many years but he took up the shovel seriously in the new millennium when he moved to Waterford. Apart from using the GIY community and website Feargal gets most of his best gardening ideas from his father, Hugh. Hugh developed his wide range of gardening lore working with his father, Billy, in their back garden in Donegal. A garden of medium proportions which supported a very large family at the time. That’s a trail of soil soaked wisdom that goes back to the start of the 20th century.
Feargal is an enthusiastic supporter of the GIY community with its emphasis on sharing knowledge, seeds, plants, time and effort. He is particularly fond of the meitheal concept which he sees as a wonderful way to get jobs done and help fellow GIYers out in their endeavours to do the projects that we often put off for various reasons. He links this key GIY community concept to the Native American idea of the Circle whereby people helped each other out (and passed possessions around) and got helped out in return. Needless to say many Europeans who came across this idea were very keen on being helped out and gaining possessions but not so keen on returning the compliment.
A psychologist by profession Feargal recommends the therapeutic joys of hoeing after a hard day in the office.
Paul runs and owns his own business in Kildare and his relatively new to the wonderful world of GIYing. His wife having purchased a “how to rear hens” course got him to cross paths with Michael Kelly and the rest is history. Paul went on to set up the Bray GIY Group which won Group of the Year in 2011 which is still today one of the biggest and most active groups.
Living in Wicklow with his wife, the twins, dog and a few hens he uses his GIYing as an escape from the hectic world of running your own business. He admits to being a bit OCD when it comes to his sowing … straight lines, measuring tape and always by the book! Outside of that Paul is tasked with helping us increase our impact through growing our various avenues of funding.
Ciarán Walsh originally from Midleton Co Cork, graduated in '98 with a Degree in Business Studies from Waterford Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Irish Taxation Institute. Ciarán has been involved with GIY since the first meeting in September 2008. Ciarán is former chairman of Ferrybank Community Development Group, a member of the Ferrybank Socio Economic Development Committee and is the Founder of the Ferrybank Community Allotment Project. He lives in Waterford with his wife Collette.
Helen Cunningham grew up in Country Leitrim on a working farm where it was part of everyday life to grow and make a lot of their own food, including butter, cheese, jam and marmalade. She has over 30 years’ experience in the food industry and has been running the Phoenix Cafe for the past 20 years. Helen first gained experience working in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the early 1980s. Here she was first exposed the burgeoning popularity of farmers markets and the Santa Monica Organic Co-op.
When Helen returned to Ireland she used her experience to create a 100-seater restaurant (Blazes) in the heart of Temple Bar, which entailed restoring a semi-derelict, historic Huguenot building into a three-floor restaurant which included a roof garden containing raised beds and a greenhouse providing fresh vegetables for the restaurant. During this time, she also ran a film catering business, which had contracts in both Ireland and the USA.
Under Helen’s ownership, the Phoenix Cafe has received many awards including the Irish Times “Best Cafe in Ireland”, McKenna’s and Georgina Campbell’s guides. Helen is dedicated to responsible ethical sourcing of ingredients and maintaining a low carbon footprint. To this end she makes every effort to source locally and organically in addition to utilising all of the produce from the Walled Garden in the Phoenix Park. As a result, a very happy and mutually-beneficial relationship has developed between the Phoenix Cafe and the Walled Garden.
Helen has completed numerous courses in Ballymaloe Cookery School, the Irish Management Institute and Dublin Business School, including People Management, Conflict Resolution and Human Resources. She is a member of the Slow Food Movement, the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland and the Irish Georgian Society. Most recently Helen has completed a flower farming course and grows most of her flowers that are used in the Café.