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goresbridge community garden

Community Gardens

Chefs & Gardens ~ A Magical Combination

August 7, 2013

The gardeners of Goresbridge were delighted to welcome Alan Foley to the Community Garden this week.

Talking veg with Alan Foley, Head Chef of the Step House Hotel

Deep in menu discussions with Alan Foley, Head Chef of the Step House Hotel, Borris, Co Carlow

Alan is the award-winning Head Chef at the beautiful Step House Hotel in Borris and thanks to a Kilkenny Leader Partnership funded initiative, the community garden have started supplying the restaurant with herbs and vegetables from the small garden.

Goresbridge Community Garden - July 2013

Goresbridge Community Garden – July 2013

I’ve written many posts on Goresbridge community garden, having worked as their garden tutor since the spring of 2010 so it’s an absolute pleasure to see Continue Reading…

Community Gardens

Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny. There’s a sweet edible garden hiding there…

June 21, 2013

After the recent sunshine, warmth and rain Goresbridge Community Garden is starting to bloom.

Goresbridge Community Garden June 2013We were a little late planting vegetables in the polytunnel as it was full of plug plants and hanging baskets for the village scheme. However, the tomatoes, courgette and butternut squash, aubergine and chilli peppers from the Feeling Hot range of Greenside Up seed collections have now been planted and are starting to grow thanks to the summer heat. We’ve also planted basil, coriander, French marigold and Calendula amongst them, all useful companion herbs and flowers we sowed from seed earlier in the year. Continue Reading…

Community Gardens

Spring Hope In the Community Garden

May 9, 2013

spring flowers in Goresbridge Community GardenWhilst we huddle indoors out of the rain, outdoors the sunshine and downpours have encouraged the flowers to begin their display.

Apple trees, sage, chives and thyme are all bursting to bloom in Goresbridge Community Garden and with them our hopes for good growth and magnificant harvests.

Hurray for spring, however late she falls!

Community Gardens

New structures in the community garden

May 6, 2013

As spring belatedly arrives, the small community garden in Goresbridge begins to take shape…

New Structures in Goresbridge Community Garden

Can you spot the new structure that’s appeared between the beds? We managed to lure Peter back into the garden with his handyman skills and he’s built a lovely arch out of the old posts and wire that we found in the shed last week. We’ll be training the runner beans up and over it in a few weeks time.


Bridget’s learning how to toil the soil gently with the tip of the spade and knock the lumps of clay out.

Goresbridge Community Garden

It wont be long before the beds are full of flowers and vegetables

Inside the polytunnel the warmth has helped the plugs plants to come on. Thankfully we only found a couple of slugs and snails this week so no more seedling devastation for now. Continue Reading…

Community Gardens

Reuse/recycle – gardeners are the experts!

April 10, 2013

One of the (many) things I enjoy about community gardening is the way we can try out different ideas and techniques, as well as see how fellow gardeners reuse or recycle. Community gardens by nature are generally short of funds so gardeners are great at adapting “stuff”.

In Goresbridge community garden we’ll be trying out a few ideas we’ve seen online to highlight what can be grown in a relatively small area. We’ll report back how we get on with them.

First off, with huge thanks to Colette’s husband Peter, we now have a vertical pallet garden on the wall. We started filling it with strawberries this morning and will add colour in the form of nasturtiums and perhaps salads over the coming weeks.

Pallet garden

We have lots of strawberry plants this year so if you’re a regular follower of the Goresbridge garden posts you’ll start to notice them in all sorts of places. Here we’ve planted some up in guttering that’s been affixed to the wall (Peter is a marvel) and are on the look out for more. We’re curious to see how much watering they’ll need but have a good rota of people so hopefully this won’t be a problem.

strawberries in guttering at Goresbridge community garden

Lots of space to add more guttering

Most of the community gardeners are growing vegetables in their own gardens too. Here’s a simple cold frame that James built for less than €20:


Imelda’s husband Ollie is full of great ideas too! How about this simple but effective one for keeping fleece or plastic in place over raised beds:

Bungies keep most things secure!

I especially like Imelda’s greenhouse that’s full of seedling’s under fleece right now.

Imelda & Ollie's Greenhouse in Goresbridge

Imelda & Ollie’s Greenhouse

Ollie built this using clear plastic sheeting and other bits and bobs at a fraction of the price of a flat pack alternative.

Homemade greenhouse

I’ll keep you posted of other ways the gardeners come up with to reuse/recycle over the coming months.



Community Gardens

Choosing flowers & planting spuds. A day in the life of a community garden.

April 4, 2013

Choosing Bedding Plants in the Community Garden

Still very cold at night but sun at last!

We spent a good part of the morning pouring over a catalogue from a nursery that sells plug plants and coming up with an order list for the village planting scheme. There are lots of beds, hanging baskets and containers that we’ll be filling full of colour but it was no easy task choosing and agreeing on the combinations!


Meanwhile Liam and James escaped from the women for a few minutes and headed outside where they dug the potato trenches and planted the chitted potatoes. We also laid down the growing mat that Sow Easy Sow had donated which we’ll be planting our brassicas in.


We moved the rhubarb (giving it a double layer of protection to help to prevent shock.


James planted peas into modules full of multipurpose compost. Although the seed packets will be telling you to sow from April, it’s still too cold to plant most seeds directly outside just yet.

How about this for a recycled plant pot idea that a visiting gardener bought along?


How are your garden preparations going? Are you making the most of the dry days?

Community Gardens

In the Community Garden in March

March 27, 2013

Here we are, the last week of March and more snow, more biting cold winds and still nothing at all sown outside in Goresbridge community garden! Thankfully the weather hasn’t been remotely as bad as those living in Co Antrim or the UK, (Lorna over at the Irish Farmerette blog has written a post about their hardships and the difficulties farmers are facing due to the long winter-spring). 

A tree in March in BaunreaghAs I left home to meet up with gardeners this week, the sky was heavy with its frosty load and the huge flakes softly floated around me as I tentatively set off once again down the slippery hilly lanes.

There was snow in the community garden with most of the beds frozen, but inside we were starting to see slow signs of life.

The potatoes are chitting nicely…


We transplanted strawberry runners into guttering that will be hung on the wall outside when the weather warms up a bit.

strawberries at Goresbridge community gardenVery few seeds have germinated that were sown two weeks ago, it’s been so cold. The rocket is just up, a few tiny lettuce plants and some kale. We’ll be sowing fresh seeds over the next few weeks to counteract the losses/non germination…

Lastly we were able to thin out and divide the chives that we planted from seed a couple of years ago that were in danger of taking over the herb bed.

goresbridge community garden chives

There is one delightfully uplifting area of the garden during this barren time… a large container full of pretty spring flowers. Fingers crossed for a warmer Wednesday next week!

spring flowers in the community garden


Community Gardens

Community Garden Network in Northern Ireland – A lesson for us all.

March 15, 2013

If you’ve read the previous blog post that explained the reason behind the trip to Northern Ireland and the mixed emotions it evoked, hopefully reading about the two community gardens we were shown around will explain why we left with such positivity.

The two gardens in question were nominated by Derry City Council in the 2012 Pride of Place awards under the City Category for Community Garden and obtained runners-up place.

The cost of each project was small in comparison to other projects (just £1,000 and £5,000 respectively) but the rewards and effects of bringing horticulture to the people have been considerable.

leafair laneway community garden

Leafair Community Garden

Leafair Community Garden

The first garden visit was to Leafair Laneway Community Garden and was a fantastic example of how community gardening and horticulture can so positively impact on residents and communities.

This series of gardens were developed in early 2011 by Leafair Community Association due to ongoing anti-social behaviour in the laneway. Cars were being driven up and down and residents had nailed their gates closed.

The project involved residents from the houses, Leafair Mens Health Project and Galliagh Off the streets initiative.

Leafair Laneway community garden

Community Gardening and Positive Learning

During 2011 a series of horticultural courses were organised in the laneway by North West Regional College, working with Greater Shantallow Area Partnership which saw 48 people attend National Open College Network accredited horticultural training.

New Community Laneway Under Development

This laneway has since spawned a further three laneway projects in the area, with another four areas secured for redevelopment in the same style.

There must be hundreds of lanes and back alleys that would have room for raised beds like these… can you imagine them all in the summer and autumn months when they’re bursting with produce!

St Therese, the local primary school has installed over twenty raised beds in the schools grounds, started a school composting system and various flower and herb beds as a direct result of the laneway.

Fountain Community Garden aka Bastion Plots

The second community garden is just below the Derry city walls, hence the lovely view below. Developed in early 2011 this project saw the lead being taken by Cathedral Youth Club who had identified an area of their estate which was just ‘poor wet grass’ and obtained funding through Co-operation Ireland to develop a grow-your-own project. The garden was constructed by residents, young people and Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland.

Fountain Community Garden

Fountain Community Garden

The primary school has a strong involvement in the garden area, visiting the garden every fortnight to participate in general horticulture. (The blue buckets in the back left of the picture above are full of strawberries that they children will take home.) The school also has a number of beds and horticultural areas developed in their grounds.

The garden project has spawned a number of other initiatives in the community, such as large-scale daffodil planting, litter picking, graffiti removal and the installation of a new play park area – all led by the Cathedral Youth Club.

Fountain Community Garden

Fountain Community Garden

The garden involved co-operation from Derry City Council, Housing Executive and Roads Service.

Last year the two schools joined another school to create a new park space beside the Guildhall, now known as Foyle Gardens. This was formally a car park but is now a quality small park facility for tourists and residents to enjoy. The project involved Leafair Community Association taking the lead with support of Department of Social Development and Derry City Council Parks and Cemeteries department.

Gareth Austin was the community horticulturalist in all of the projects mentioned whilst Janey Stewart from @atthegardengate has offered huge support to the Community Gardens by providing seeds in bulk. The RHS (@rhsschools) has a ‘school focussed arm’ offering support to the school horticulture curriculum.

The Community Garden Network

One of the reasons I was so keen to find other community gardeners was to see how other people were doing it so that I could bring that knowledge back to my own nearby towns and villages. With the Community Garden Network we can all learn from each other and share our experiences and expertise.

The network’s first trip was to a small urban garden in Dublin called Serenity (pictured below) and now we’ve been treated to Leafair and Fountain gardens.

Serenity Community Garden, Dublin - bottle greenhouse

Serenity Community Garden, Dublin

The next network meeting will be taking place in Sligo at the end of June where we hope to see more gardens. For anybody who can’t travel to the meetings, the gallery on the website is filling nicely with various groups pictures. I’ve written several posts on the community garden projects I’ve worked with here too.

If you’ve felt inspired by any of the projects you’ve seen or would like to share your own, please check out the Community Garden Network site and add your name to the growing list of people and groups who are finding out the benefits of this type of horticulture for themselves and connecting. Here’s some feedback from a group of Kilkenny community gardeners on the benefits and changes its made to their lives.

If you know of some land nearby that could be transformed into a community garden and aren’t sure how to do it, here’s some tips.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the projects… do you know of any areas near you that could benefit from something similar?