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Grow it Forward

How would you like to grow your own food and share the experience with others in your family or with your friends? Well now you can, courtesy of your local library, and a new Grow it Forward programme. In partnership with Healthy Ireland and Libraries Ireland, through the government’s Keep Well initiative, Mayo Library is giving away free seed packs and asking participants to share the experience with up to ten other people.

“I’ve been growing vegetables and plants for thirty years,” says Mayo Library’s Grow it Forward ambassador Maureen Costello. “I know how satisfying it is to see things springing to life in the garden, and I’m delighted we in the library are able to support this great initiative. We’ve also got lots of great gardening magazines in our online library, so there’s plenty of advice for anyone who wants to get started.”  

Each pack includes seeds for beetroot, carrots, salad leaves, peas, and tomatoes; a guide to help grow them, and a postcard and gift tags to help share them. Those who sign up will also receive regular e-mails with growing support, video clips and ideas for how to ‘grow it forward’ by passing on seeds, seedlings or produce in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Adds Mayo County Librarian Austin Vaughan: “Libraries have long been associated with providing everyone with a great way to switch off and relax, and the Grow It Forward initiative is no different, really. We also have lots of ebooks about gardening and growing on our BorrowBox app – all you need is a library card number and PIN to get started.”

Speaking in support of the campaign, which was launched last week, Frank Feighan TD, Minister of State for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “During these challenging times, it is vital that we do everything we can to look after our wellbeing. Right now, there is a great need for positive, outdoor activities and creativity in how we stay connected to one another. Evidence suggests that being out in nature, spending time in green space or growing some plants at home can help lift our mood and have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. I would like to congratulate GIY for this Grow it Forward project as part of Healthy Ireland’s Keep Well campaign – this simple idea can really bring great joy, foster wellbeing and can also help revive community spirit. I encourage everyone to get involved.”

Calling on people of all ages to join the campaign, GIY’s Director of Development Karen O’ Donohoe added: “We encourage everyone to take part regardless of your experience in growing or the space you have to grow. Packs will be given out on a first come, first served basis and we will then teach people how to grow, whether on a windowsill or a large garden. We will also show a wide range of ways to share seeds, small seedlings, plants in pots or the produce at harvest time, to make sure your Grow it Forward experience is as easy as can be.”

So, budding GIYers, all that remains is to let you know how to claim a Grow it Forward pack. You can register at or contact Maureen Costello at Mayo Library. Email her at or phone the library at 094 9047940. And check out some of the library’s great gardening ebooks on BorrowBox and the magazines on RBDigital.


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