Food Futures – Galway Food Festival Panel Discussion

Galway Food Festival Panel Discussions Sat March 31st at 2pm 

venue The Mick Lally Theatre, Druid Lane, Galway

Third Space Galway curator Martina Finn has once again being welcomed to curate panel discussions on Sustainable Community Food Systems…

Food Futures.. Ireland at a cross road…

Panel Discussion 1

Ireland is now recognised as having one of the fastest growing organic food sectors globally, but with only 2% certified organic growers in the country we are importing almost 70% of the organic horticulture produce sold in Ireland, highlighting the scale of the missed opportunities for the local food sector.

As Galway hosts the European Region of Gastronomy, it is widely acknowledged that the sustainable and environmentally sound future of farming involves producing our own food within a balanced, self-sustaining ecosystem using restorative and regenerative agroecology.

The panel today will discuss the growing awareness and importance of Food Sovereignty, urban and regenerative agriculture practices, and the many community and environmental initiatives that support it locally, nationally and internationally.

Chair; Cait Curran,
Galway based Biodynamic Grower and member of Slow Food Ireland

This year’s panelists include

Fiona Donovan – Project Manager for the Healthy Ireland – Healthy Cities and Counties Programme.
To promote health and wellbeing we need to focus on creating and strengthening the preconditions for health. These include access to education, choice of affordable healthy food options, access to green and blue spaces, housing, transport options, feeling safe and opportunities to connect with others and contribute to society’.The aim of the National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland Network is to support Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) to implement Healthy Ireland at the local level by creating, strengthening and enhancing these preconditions of good health.An example of this is the recent Healthy Ireland funding received by Galway City and County to develop Galway Food Policy. The Healthy Cities and Counties 0approach to health and wellbeing recognises the need to work in collaboration across public, private, voluntary and community sector organisations.

Jennifer McConnell – Irish Seed Savers Association
ISSA main objective is to conserve Ireland’s very special and threatened plant genetic resources. Their work focuses on the preservation of heirloom and heritage food crop varieties that are suitable for Ireland’s unique growing conditions.
And this year launch their new Seed Sovereignty initiative in partnership with Gaia Foundation International.

Irish Seed Savers Association maintains the country’s public seed bank with over 600 non-commercially available varieties of seed. They conserve and grow heritage apple trees and other fruit tree varieties. They run workshops throughout the year on various topics to help inform and teach others how to save seeds and grow their own food and be self-sustainable and to help encourage greater food security for future generations. We Grow, Preserve, Conserve and Share both our seeds, our knowledge and our love for the land. You can find information on our workshops and how to follow us throughout our website.

Dr. Ollie Moore – Food Sovereignty Ireland and ARC 2020
Dr. Oliver Moore is Communications Director and Editor-in-Chief with European NGO ARC2020 is a policy discussion and debate platform for rural and agri-food actors around the EU. He lectures with the Centre for Cooperative Studies in UCC, part of the Department of Food Business and Development, on the new MSc in Co-Operatives, Agri-Food and Sustainable Development. He works as part of the Cultivate team on Communications for the GROW Observatory project. This is a Horizon2020 funded initiative to help growers improve their soil quality using permaculture principles, while also contributing their data on soil moisture to help with climate change adaptation. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, specialising in organics, direct selling and consumer-producer relations. He is published in consumer studies, agri-food and more general sociological journals and books, while he has presented his research at conferences in many European countries. Since February 2005, Oliver has written a weekly column on organic food and farming for the Irish Examiner, a newspaper to which he also contributes regularly on a range of agri-food issues. International study trips and project work with various NGOs, IGOs and charities (e.g. Urgenci, La Via Campesina, Fair Trade, World Agroforestry Centre, and Trocaire) have been conducted. A member of the Irish Food Writers Guild, he is a regular guest on specialist agri-food and environmental radio and TV shows, and at agri-food policy conferences in Ireland and the rest of Europe. Oliver lives in Cloughjordan ecovillage, where he is an active member of the community owned and operated farm, one of Ireland’s few Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives.

Eoin MacCuirc –

Cork Food Policy Council and Director of Simon Community and Foodcloud. Cork Food Policy Council seeks to influence local food policy to follow best practice in developing a healthy, sustainable, and resilient food system. Supporting new partnerships in Cork between statutory, community and voluntary groups, educational institutions and businesses to promote knowledge, skills and experience around food.

Cork Food Policy Council are an inter-agency group chaired by Colin Sage Dept Geography UCC, supported by: Healthy Cities, Health Service Executive (HSE), Cork City Council (CCC), Cork Environmental Forum (CEF), FoodCloud, Cafe Gusto, Musgraves, Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, Niche, Health Action Zone (HAZ) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).

Food is life. Growing, harvesting, cooking and sharing food together nourishes us, connects us to the earth, the beauty of nature and each other and gives us hope for the future. Cork Food Policy Council has many projects and initiatives to create an authentic food culture. Eoin will talk about some of his favourite adventures with the Cork Food Policy Council and their latest initiative the Sustainable Food Lab.


Sinead Moran – Foodture

Sinéad is a TCD Natural Science graduate with a background in research and the NGO sector. She farms organically along with her partner on whats known as HNV (High Nature Value) Farmland and has a keen interest in how farmers can farm in harmony with the landscape, how ethical livestock production can play a role in that and way in which we can re-connection to each other through food and farming.

foodture Bio:
Foodture first started when Sinéad and Nathalie met while doing a Master’s in Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security at NUI Galway. They both share common interests in finding solutions to transition to a fairer food system. They teamed up to follow their vision of creating a common platform where all actors can come together to collaborate to construct a new narrative around Fair Food.
foodture offers a space to inform choice around the food we purchase and how Fair Food Choices can bring change to the health of people, the planet and secure the livelihoods of Fair Food producers. Whatsmore, citizens can search for and learn about their local Fair Food producer and contact them directly through the site. Our objective is to encourage and facilitate that re-connection between citizen and farmer. We are a social enterprise, supported by community membership.

The Fair Food Finder is about discovering the food producers who nourish us and the planet so that we can support them directly, affording them the opportunity to do so into the future. When it comes to sustainability in food, its vital to know how food is produced. We want to peel back labels like local and organic, and get to know the people who grow food, tend to food, manage food and how they do this in balance with nature.