Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2010
This description of Michael Kelly's work was prepared when Michael Kelly was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
Michael Kelly is catalyzing a nationwide movement to substantially increase the number of people growing their own food. He has resurrected the traditional Irish notion of the “meitheal,” a practice that builds a spirit of community by working collectively on individual projects—much like a barn-raising—to exponentially increase the number of people with the skills to grow their own food. Through this community approach, Michael is creating a national network of local “Grow It Yourself” groups designed to provide a grassroots, tangible structure to the local food movement and spark new growers by capitalizing on the knowledge of mavens in the area. Michael compares his structure to that of Alcoholics Anonymous, envisioning GIY meetings available everywhere and offering a well-established open community in every town and city. Currently fielding over sixty groups with roughly 5,000 members around Ireland within a year of the program’s inception, he also has interested citizens furthering expansion of the program in three foreign countries.
The New Idea
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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