Building a community: the Irish Food Bloggers Association
Belatedly, my presentation from the IFBA launch at Savour Kilkenny‘s FoodCamp. I thought, on the eve of our second launch in Dublin (come meet us in L. Mulligan Grocer tomorrow night, Saturday 6 November!), it might be a suitable time to let you know the thinking behind Kristin and I setting up the IFBA.
I first got interested in blogs around 2003, using coffee breaks in my then job to read new online food sites like Chocolate and Zucchini, and 101 Cookbooks. Not long after that, in 2004, I moved to New Zealand with the man I used to refer to the Boyfriend, now the Husband. I was far from family and friends and, in the days before Skype, Facebook and Twitter, it was easy to feel a little cut off. After a serious accident in early 2005 – I got run down by a courier truck in Auckland – a broken collarbone meant that I couldn’t work. But I could type and my techie friend back in Ireland decided it was time to get my long talked about food blog up and running.
Bibliocook wasn’t very easy to set up initially. It was still early days for many blog platforms, there was no way of networking through Facebook and Twitter and few places to go for information on things like photographing food.
At the time, there were no other Irish food blogs that I knew of and few New Zealand ones but I gradually got to know other food bloggers. People like Barbara from Winos and Foodies and Bron Marshall became online friends and they gave me a sense of connection and a sense of place in my new home. I also got the feeling – very exciting for a long-time food lover – that I’d just joined in this world wide conversation about food.
I have to say, in the early days my readers were mainly my family – when I got the first comment from someone who wasn’t related to me I danced!
Despite moving continents and more than a few houses, leaving Dublin and my job to move to the cottage and hit the freelance market, through bringing up chickens, turkeys and a toddler, I’ve stuck around ever since. I’ve been amazed and delighted at the growth of food blogging in Ireland but it was only when Donal Skehane of Good Mood Food, and Bord Bia organised a get together that I realised just how many people were out there.
As I live in the middle of nowhere, North Cork and work mainly from home as a journalist and broadcaster, blogging is a way for me to connect with the world and – or so I tell myself as I spend half a morning on FoodFight – it’s also my job!
But that’s virtual life and what I loved about the blogger meet up in Dublin was the opportunity to put faces to the names, have REAL conversations and break bread with all these kindred spirits, which included Kristin of Dinner du Jour. Inspired by that day, I organised a bloggers country outing to meet Margaret O’Farrell’s free range pigs at Oldfarm in North Tipperary. Again, it was a chance to sit and chat and laugh and photograph and – yes – eat with like minded people, which again included Kristin.
As it happened, Kristin had picked up a chance tweet from Imen at I Married an Irish Farmer and I was having an email conversation with Damien Mulley, the person behind FoodFight.ie, about the same thing: setting up a community or association of food bloggers in Ireland
So, one day I made a date to call Kristin about a food idea I had only to discover that she was already thinking along the same lines. So, in late August, we set up the Irish Food Bloggers Association…and now it’s also your story!