Libraries across the country will be helping to get people to grow their own food at home as part of a new drive aimed at encouraging healthy eating.

The Grow it Forward campaign by Grow It Yourself (GIY), in partnership with Healthy Ireland and Libraries Ireland, will involve 50,000 free food-growing kits being given away to participants.

Organisers hope that up to half a million people will end up reaping the benefits of growing food at home.

Each food-growing pack includes seeds for beetroot, carrots, salad leaves, peas, and tomatoes as well as guides on growing them and a postcard and gift tags to help share them.

Those who sign up will also receive regular emails with growing support, video clips and ideas for how to "grow it forward" by passing on seeds, seedlings or produce in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

GIY Ireland founder Michael Kell said the pandemic has seen record numbers of people growing their own food.

Minister of State for Public Health and Wellbeing Frank Feighan said it is "vital" that people look after their

"Right now, there is a great need for positive, outdoor activities and creativity in how we stay connected to one another. Evidence suggests that being out in nature, spending time in green space or growing some plants at home can help lift our mood and have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing," he said.

On behalf of local authorities and libraries, Colette Byrne, Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council, said people do not have to be a member of library to participate in what could be "a lovely intergenerational project".

But, she said, it is great opportunity to join a library, "because as well as GIY’s adults and children’s books available as e-books, you’ll have access to thousands of gardening and cookery books and magazines so you can continue to develop your new hobby."