|This year marks the tenth anniversary of Green Sod Ireland with the group celebrating its many successes over the years while looking forward with fresh vision on what it hopes to achieve in the future. Their chairperson Melissa Griffith passionately speaks of their current activities, educational programmes and overall vision.|
Like all members of the group Melissa is a volunteer and dedicates her time towards promoting Green Sod Ireland’s aims. Proactively educating the public on the protection of Irish ecosystems is central to the group’s work. In addition to this, the group have been gifted various sites around Ireland over the years to protect and preserve, ensuring that all natural species can thrive there.
Their most recent education programme on the role of bees in our ecosystem is currently being delivered within 21 primary schools in Galway, Kildare and Dublin. Students start as young as senior infants and are enlightened to the vital role that bees play in our ecosystem while also getting the opportunity to plant wildflowers in their own school.
The programme was originally created by one of Green Sod Ireland’s most longstanding volunteers Jeanne Sampier, a bee specialist, who had the passion and creativity to grow this idea to its current stage of expansion, and as Melissa very aptly explains “she got to grow her own wings”, a perfect analogy for how this volunteer- led organisation has flourished since its first origins.
Melissa continually compares the organisation to an “underground river, beavering away”, stressing that Green Sod Ireland consciously chose to stay underground as opposed to “going big” which was a very real prospect after winning the Social Entrepreneurs Award in 2011.
Winning the award changed a lot of things for the group and set in motion a turning point in how they would achieve their goals in the community. This stage marked one of transition explains Melissa, whereby seeds were sown on a new ethos of growing outwards rather than upwards.
Growing in this way to date has served the organisation bringing them into contact and collaboration with other key stakeholders in the community, while creating more space within the organisation for ideas to generate, for creativity to flourish and as Melissa describes, “we are continually growing new shoots”.
When speaking on Green Sod Ireland’s ethos on the protection of land Melissa states that we need to look at land outside of human need and that if we look after it we are essentially looking after ourselves and our wellbeing.
She goes on to stress that people need not get disheartened, providing encouraging advice “Keep your eyes and ears open, support what’s good, keep it local, we all play a part and this is what Green Sod is really working to promote”.
Green Sod Ireland are currently seeking to develop their education programme and are recruiting volunteer Education Officers to enable further expansion of the programme. They are very open to hear from anyone who would be interested in getting involved.