City event hears of the benefits of growing and foraging your own food

Kathleen McMahon of Blackriver Wild Foods in Headford, Arlene Finn, Galway Green Leaf co-ordinator, and Mark Ridsdill-Smith of Vertical Veg (UK) at the Growing in Small Spaces, Finding in Wild Spaces seminar which took place in the city last week. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

Kathleen McMahon of Blackriver Wild Foods in Headford, Arlene Finn, Galway Green Leaf co-ordinator, and Mark Ridsdill-Smith of Vertical Veg (UK) at the Growing in Small Spaces, Finding in Wild Spaces seminar which took place in the city last week. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

More than 50 attendees learned how to grow food in small spaces, and find food in wild places, at a seminar in the Harbour Hotel last week. Speakers Mark Ridsdill-Smith of Vertical Veg (UK ), and Kathleen McMahon of Blackriver Wild Foods in Headford, shared their vast experience of growing food in small gardens and balconies, and identifying edible berries and plants growing in the wild around Galway.

This event was organised as part of the European Green Leaf programme of Galway City Council, in conjunction with Galway City Partnership, European Region of Gastronomy 2018, and Galway Healthy Food Policy Council.

Mark Ridsdill-Smith began to grow food in containers on a balcony in London in 2009. This changed his life, as he started to eat better, tastier, food, which connected him to the city and local community in new ways. In 2010 he started Vertical Veg to inspire and support others to grow food in the city – and to discover the benefits it offers.

Kathleen McMahon forages for wild plants in Headford, and makes delicious jellies, cordials, scones, and gin from locally found plants and fruits. She sells her products under the Black River Wild Foods brand.

Arlene Finn, European Green Leaf coordinator, commented: “More than two thirds of Europeans live in urban areas, with the figure expected to rise to six in 10 worldwide by 2030. The increase in urban living will have profound impacts on our ability and space to grow our own food, making the approach of container growing and foraging even more relevant.

"Whether you have a small balcony or a concrete back yard, Mark Ridsdill-Smith showed us that you can grow food in containers, while also supporting pollinating insects. Kathleen McMahon showed us the abundance of wild food on our doorsteps, from wild garlic to blackberries – which also encourages us to get out and about and enjoy our fabulous country.”

For more information and ideas on growing and/or foraging, see www.verticalveg.org.uk and www.facebook.com/BlackRiverWildFoods

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