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Grandmother Power!


In her gorgeous coffee-table book, Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon, author Paola Gianturco uses evocative photographs and first-hand accounts to showcase a global movement of “activist grandmothers” who are making the world a better place for grandchildren everywhere. Plus, 100% of profits from the sale of the book go to Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. Following is an excerpt from Grandmother Power, by Sally Sweeney, of Ireland.


Sally Sweeney:

Champion of Healthy, Homegrown, Home-Cooked Food

My grandsons live in England, but they come over two or three times a year, and I go to them four or five times. I say to myself, “It’s not California, it’s not Australia; it could be an awful lot worse.”

My daughter Catherine is getting the boys to bake, cook, and grow things. They just love to go down to the plot, as they call it. They weed and dig, steal the raspberries, and eat peas straight out of the pods.

I am a member of Grow It Yourself (GIY). It started in Waterford has grown exponentially in the space of two years. People at last are realizing that they can’t trust what they buy off the supermarket shelves, and are much more conscious of their health and of food miles.

Michael Kelly had the idea. He floated it to my husband and myself, and we said, “That sounds great.” He called a meeting in the library in Waterford City, thinking maybe 30 or 40 might turn up, but almost 100 came.

I went on the original steering committee in Waterford, then decided to start a group in Tramore. GIY took off. There are now 60 groups in Ireland. I got an email the other day from GIY Kalamunda outside Perth,Australia!

My husband and I have got an acre and grow as much as we can. Potatoes, herbs, carrots, spinach, garlic, beans, peas, a bit of everything. We have three chickens (Faith, Hope, and Charity), so we have eggs. I’m a beekeeper; my husband helps, although he’s not so happy to be up close and confidential with the bees.

Eoin and Rhian absolutely love granny’s honey. When we go visit them, we bring honey and eggs in the car ferry. One time we flew, and I put the eggs in my check-in luggage; it’s a wonder with the pressure that they didn’t all explode in my case!

Something else I’m involved with is the Transition Town Movement, which deals with big concepts like climate change, global warming, and oil. If we look around, the things that sustain us are 100% dependent on oil.

The Movement started with a man in Kinsale, Ireland, who began to look at ways individual communities can build resilience, so when the effect of peak oil (maximum extraction) actually hits, they will have the capacity to meet the challenge. Again, that organization expanded exponentially. There are Transition Towns throughout Britain, Ireland, America, worldwide.

The trouble is, we needed solutions yesterday. When my children were born in the seventies, people said I was a total pessimist, focused on these problems. Now, I’m becoming mainstream. Even if it’s only a small amount that I can do, I can’t not do it.

All this is about being a grandmother. You bring children into the world; they bring children into the world. You just want there to be a good environment for them to grow up in.







Paola Gianturo’s new book, Grandmother Power, includes a chapter on how grandmothers in Ireland are promoting healthy eating. Among the grandmothers featured is Darina Allen, Ireland’s best-known chef, founder of Ballymaloe Cookery School, and a grandmother of seven.

Darina and her good friend, California chef Alice Waters, view grandmothers as the “guardians of inherited wisdom.” As such, they proposed to Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement, a “grandmother’s day” in which grandmothers would teach grandchildren about growing, cooking, and enjoying “good, clean, and fair food.” All 100,000 Slow Food members in 153 countries (including the U.S.) participated in the first annual Slow Food International Grandmothers’ Day.

What a wonderful way to spend time with your grandchildren — growing, selecting, preparing, and enjoying good-for-you food.


Get free recipes from Ballymaloe Cookery!


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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