Growing food has nothing to do with gardening

It only takes 10 years hard work to become an overnight success....

I was looking through some old notes and things this week and was surprised to discover that we did our first real pitch for a GIY TV series way back in 2011.  Seven years later and we’re finally getting GIY in to sittings rooms everywhere on March 14th.  So, that didn’t take long, did it??! GROW COOK EAT will be on RTE 1 every Wednesday for 7 weeks presented by yours truly and the wonderful Karen O’Donohoe.  Each week we will take a particular veg and take viewers on a plot-to-plate journey showing them how to grow and cook with the veg.  Along the way, we will be visiting GIY projects in communities, workplaces and schools, and getting tips from some amazing, sustainable commercial growers. 

Watching a preview this week I was struck by how incredibly odd it is to watch yourself on TV  you really just have to park any sense of pride or vanity and just go with it.  It goes without saying that this is a huge moment for the GIY movement.  I mean, of course the media landscape has changed utterly, but in Ireland there’s still nothing quite like TV to reach a large audience (we hope).  In a 7 week run, I guess it’s reasonable to expect an audience of well over a million people.  If we can get even a minority percentage of those viewers motivated and informed enough to crack on and do some growing that will be massive.  Particularly since we know that even a small amount of food growing can have a transformative effect on people’s diets and overall health.

Perhaps of equal significance is how food growing will be portrayed in the show.  It’s been a particular bugbear of mine for years that food growing is always presented as a gardening thing.  In books, in newspaper articles and on TV it’s always a bit of a gardening after-thought, sandwiched in between information on growing good dahlias and deadheading rhododendrons.  For me, food growing is not about gardening at all, it’s about food.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with gardening, and I love my garden  but making it about gardening can be a major turnoff for people, particularly younger people.  So, GROW COOK EAT is unashamedly about food.  Growing it, cooking it, loving it.  In the process, we want to keep it really accessible  so, don’t expect any weird horticultural terms or Latin names.

A big thanks to RTE, and to our sponsors at Bord Bia and the EPA for getting behind us. Expect plenty of craic, a bit of banter, a little innuendo, but above all, lots and lots of food. I will be watching from behind the couch. 

GROW COOK EAT starts on Wednesday 14th March at 7.30pm on RTE 1.