The History of the Irish Diet in Plants is a concept garden. The concept was chosen by Professor Alex Evans, Dean of Agriculture, and Head of the UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science and was delivered by Dr. Caroline Elliott-Kingston, Assistant Professor of Horticulture and Crop Physiology, Dr. Meriel McClatchie, Assistant Professor in Archaeology, and a team of Landscape Architecture students at UCD.
This garden aims to visually illustrate changes in the Irish diet that resulted from key societal and historical changes over the past 8000 years. During this time, the Irish diet has moved from diverse and local to diverse and global. To illustrate this transition, the garden is divided into five distinct sections: Early Settlers; First Farmers; Medieval Traders; Industrial Society and Modern Day. Each section represents a time period that led to dramatic changes in our diet and reflects archaeological and modern agricultural evidence for changing food preferences.
One of the key objectives of the garden is to show how the Irish diet has changed from locally grown foods, many of which are now considered weeds, to early imports, to the diverse array of both home-grown and imported foods that we consume today.
Each section within the garden is divided by a metal rill and displays key food plants related to the time period. The chosen plants reflect evidence from archaeological excavations and historical records, which highlight changing food choices in Ireland over several millennia. Each rill joins a metal canal at the front of the garden to demonstrate the importance of water in the production of food and in our diet throughout time. The garden includes pastureland to represent grass-fed animals and a pond to represent our early dependence on lakes for fish and plants. The back wall for the garden features five panels highlighting each section with representative images of the time period.
More information on each section and featured plants are available on this website.