Posted by Michael Kelly, GIY Ireland in Features.

As well as a whole heap of wonderful and interesting activities for next week, we are also doing a series of expert webchats. These are a really fantastic opportunity for our members and have the potential to become a regular feature.

Imagine the potential, store up your questions on topic of your choice, suggest an expert and GIY will plead and beg with them to give their time and knowledge for an hour.

For GIY Week Expert webchats we have a number of experts have very kindly agreed to start the ball rolling on Monday 14th, Tuesday 15th and Friday 18th. These will be happening each night from 7–8pm, all you need to do is log onto On Wednesday and St Patrick’s Day we have two extra special events.

Please note that the St Patrick’s Day event, the Global Spud Pod, is at the earlier time of 2–3pm.

Monday, Kate Carmody, Cheesemake
The importance of organic and cheese production
Kate, who was born and reared in Liverpool began making cheese in 1987 after receiving a cheese press and a book on the subject from her mother, whose aunt had made Wensleydale cheese in Yorkshire. The first cheeses were created in the farmhouse kitchen, before moving to a larger outhouse. In 1997 the farm underwent organic conversion, with full status achieved in 2000. Kate is a longtime advocate of organics and GM free crops. Her Beal Organic Cheese is a raw milk made on the farm with summer milk from Kate’s own organic herd, and needs a good nine months to mature before reaching its optimum taste and texture. Newer additions to the range include the Mild Organic Pasteurised Cheddar and Mature Handmade Pasteurised Organic Cheddar, which takes a year to reach its full potential of flavour.

Tuesday, Betty Kehoe, Garden Designer / Landscaper
Elizabeth (Betty) Kehoe works in the beautiful, sunny South East of Ireland and has been involved in the gardening industry for many years. Her company, Aisling Designs offer a full Garden design and consultation specialising in Seaside landscapes. Having previously set up and ran a very successful nursery and garden centre near Rosslare, with a garden design service, landscape service  and garden maintenance service, Betty has vast experience in all aspects of the industry. Betty featured weekly, on a local radio gardening programme for many years until she sold the garden centre some years ago to concentrate on design and garden making.

Wednesday, Butter Live Making, with Ella McSweeney
To celebrate GIY Week, we’re asking people to join us for a live online event on Wednesday, March 16th at 7pm with RTÉ presenter and broadcaster, Ella McSweeney. Coming live from St. Ailbe’s School in Tipperary, Ella will be making butter from raw milk cream from Brochan Cocoman’s award-winnning Kildare herd ( Ella will be joined by farmer and butter enthusiast Alan Kingston of the award-winning Glenilen Farm, Cork (

Thursday, Earlier time of 2–3pm to include our Aussie friends
St Patrick’s Day is not all about snakes and green booze—it’s also traditionally the day when early potatoes were planted in Ireland. Join GIY is hosting a global web-conversation about spuds at 2pm on St Patrick’s Day (Thursday, March 17th). The Global Spud Pod will be based on the POD discussion group methodology used by GIY community groups—at GIY meetings people split in to small groups to chat about GIYing and give each other advice and support. The idea of the global POD is to start a global web-chat based on the following hot potato topics:

• What’s your favourite way to eat potatoes? Chipped, baked or boiled?
• What’s your favourite variety of spuds to grow?
• What variety would you never grow again
• Did you ever get blight? What do you do to prevent it?
• Name the spud-related toy that was invented in 1952 and later appeared as a character in the movie Toy Story?

Log on to at 2pm GMT on Thurs. March 17th and give us the answers to these questions.

Helping us with any of our more technical potato queries will be Dermot Carey from Lissadell House and David Langton, Owner and Chef at Langton House Hotel.

Friday, Jo Newton and Peter Bourke  (Seed Savers)
Saving your Seeds—Made Easy
Jo Newton is the Seed bank Coordinator, with Irish Seed Savers Association since 2001. She has plenty of practical experience, in organic growing, having run her own market garden and small holding in Clare for 15 years. She is also very active in sharing her knowledge teaching workshops such as the Organic Gardening Courses here at Irish Seed Savers, in addition to workshops on sustainable land use. She will be joined by Peter Bourke, Garden coordinator, a science graduate from UCC before a Permaculture course at the Kinsale FEC changed his direction.