We catch up with Galway-based chef and restaurateur, Jp McMahon, to find out why he decided to get involved with the kitchen gardens project and why he believes growing vegetables is essential for strengthening communities in both Ireland and Burundi.
Jp McMahon, who owns Galway’s Michelin-star Aniar restaurant and cookery school, as well as tapas bar Cava Bodega and Eat Gastropub, has joined the kitchen garden project as an ambassador and is urging the public to support the community-based initiative.
Speaking from community gardens at the volunteer-run Westside Resource Centre in Galway, where he launched the campaign with his daughters Heather and Martha, Jp said:
“I think it’s very important to get involved with this project to assist the people of Burundi and also the continent of Africa. In the west we’ve taken so much out of the continent in past 200 years and I think it’s certainly time to give back.”
Well renowned in Ireland for his passion for farming and use of local and seasonal produce, Jp highlights the strengths and benefits of this community-based initiative.
“The kitchen garden project in Burundi supports people in need by encouraging them to grow for the future, making them more self-sufficient and strengthening their community.”
This pioneering new project taps into the public’s desire to alleviate poverty by helping people to help themselves, and Jp recognises this appetite for sustainable change:
“This project gives us a sense that we are actually helping people to help themselves. By producing their own food, communities in Burundi will be more self-sufficient and resilient to climate threats and food insecurity.”
From Burundi to Galway: get growing
Food writer, Jp believes in the universal benefits of growing your own vegetables – whether you’re based in the west of Ireland or northern Burundi – and asserts that the kitchen garden project should encourage us all to get growing:
“I’m very passionate about growing my own vegetables and teaching my children how to grow vegetables. This project should inspire us in Ireland and wherever we are in the world to grow our own food. Every home should have, at the very least, a herb garden, even if all you have is an apartment with a window sill or balcony”.
Support the kitchen garden project
The kitchen garden project aims to build 200 more kitchen gardens in Burundi to help families diversify their diets and prevent malnutrition. Each garden costs just $100 (€98) to build and provides a family with their very own garden.
The gardens are designed to trap moisture and enable vegetables – such as carrots, cabbage and onions – to grow all year round, even in very dry conditions. This is essential for families in Burundi who are exposed to unpredictable weather conditions and real threats of malnutrition due to chronic food insecurity.
Help us meet our target
Join the movement and help us meet our target of building 200 more kitchen gardens for families in Burundi.