“I was thinking about entering the Community Garden Network into Bloom this year, there’s a section for postcard gardens, what do you think…..?”
Who’d have thought 18 months ago when we started the Community Garden Network that we’d be entering a garden into Bloom, Ireland’s biggest Food and Garden Festival. Having uttered those few words over a cup of tea and cake when Sandra and I met up one morning, that’s exactly what Sandra went and did on our behalf.
She put together a simple design with a lovely concept that encapsulates everything we’re attempting to do with the network:
“A postcard garden reflecting the ideals and focus of community gardening in Ireland – social inclusion, improved nutrition, building community, sharing skills and knowledge.
Several garden components have been “Yarnbombed” – reclaimed and personalised – using knitted pieces contributed by Community Gardeners and friends from around the island of Ireland. Each knitted piece is unique (like our member gardens) but they share a common purpose and together make something beautiful.
Community gardens knit together people to form communities; combating isolation, food poverty and waste. We are all – however different – part of the pattern of our community.”
Sandra emailed the entry on the deadline and we nervously waited to hear if it would be accepted. Just a few days later she rang me in a bubble of nervous excitement, we were in and we had just five weeks to put it together! We had no idea how we would pull it off.
In some respects five weeks seems a long time to figure out how to fill a 2m x 3m garden but we had no plants, no money and given the poor growing conditions, most gardeners we knew were in a similar position.
Funding is still something the CGN are working on and as we’d just had our quarterly meeting we couldn’t speak directly with people. We therefore turned to my favourite hobby business medium of social media and asked for help. It started with a call out on Facebook and the CGN website, followed by a tweet from my @greensideupveg account.
The help (and why I love twitter):
Within minutes the offers started coming in from supporters of Community Gardening.
From Twitter we were offered vegetable plants from @HennessysVeg, a tree from @CaraghNurseries, a garden gate from @gillespietunnel (see the picture as we were heartbroken to turn it down but it was just too big for our little garden!) and yarnbombing guidance from @CreativeDynamix. Via email Sean of Patchworkveg.com offered the raised bed that would enclose the garden and Ann who works at Gardenworld in Kilquade offered whatever help she could via Facebook.
We also found yarnbombers on Twitter in the form of @LoretInStitches and @stitchlily and I’m sure others I’ve tried hard not to forget but Roisin Markham of Creative Dynamix has covered the story about the wonderful community of knitters and crotcheters in her blog post here. Thank you to all!
Apart from the garden build we knew we’d need flyers to hand out which also meant we needed a logo (thanks again to Roisin who came up with the one we finally decided upon at very short notice) and volunteers to help us over the week.
I won’t waffle on about how the garden was put together in two days as the slide show below tells that story. We couldn’t have done it without Kieran’s muscles (who’d have thought such a small plot would take so much top soil!), Kevin’s patience (two stressed out women giving him jobs), Roy’s (aka Dad’s) path building abilities, John’s carefully crafted willow work and of course Roisin who travelled over from Wexford and the Transition Year art class students who travelled down from Navan by bus to join in the fun and games.
The garden itself will be manned over Bloom week by Sandra and a variety of volunteers from community gardens who’ve offered to help out on the day and I’ll be dipping in and out, childcare permitting.
Entering a garden into a show is quite an experience, stressful at times but also lots of fun. The postcard gardens are a great idea for clubs and societies to show people what they’re about and I understand from next year there will be medals awarded for them too.
In case you’ve made it this far down the post you may be wondering what the garden looks like? Here’s a few photos taken on Thursday by Ruth Noble (one of our daily volunteers) and a slide show follows of the build itself with pictures taken by myself and Kevin Corr.
A massive thanks to everyone who helped us put Sandra’s first garden show design on paper into the fields of Phoenix Park. We hope you’ll have the opportunity to see it in person!
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