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goresbridge community garden

Social Community Garden Portfolio

October 22, 2012

If you are looking for advice about creating or working in a social community garden you’re in the right place. As voluntary founder and vice chair of Community Gardens Ireland, Dee Sewell of Greenside Up is a keen advocate.

From Mayo to Galway, Laois to Waterford, Dee has shared her knowledge about the  many benefits to both communities and people of this sociable form of gardening. As a qualified transformative community education tutor, and social and therapeutic horticulturalist, Dee offers several services from design to hobby gardening courses, or accredited tuition as a Kilkenny Carlow Education Training Board tutor.

Dee is also a Master Composter with Stop Food Waste, a Voice Ireland Recycling Ambassador and currently works with Carlow Development Partnership on various social inclusion (SICAP) horticulture projects within the county.

Dee was a finalist in the 2013 Green Leader Award category of the Irish Green Awards as a result of her commitment to community change through food and environmental awareness.


An Gairdin Beo, Carlow Town

Dee was on the catalyzing committee at the beginning of the An Gairdin Beo project to develop this two acre garden in the centre of town. She has provided short compost and gardening workshops in it to The Plots Allotment Group, members of Carlow Integration Forum as well as children with Tusla Child and Family Agency.

Bagenalstown FRC Community Garden, Co Carlow

Dee worked with the Family Resource Centre from the very beginning – helping with the design, advising on the setting up and then running hobby courses and gardening with after schools children, funded both privately and through Carlow Kilkenny Education Training Board.

Ballyfoyle Community Garden, Co Kilkenny

This garden started as a hobby gardening course funded by Kilkenny Education Training Board. As a result of all they’d learnt and discussions on what they could do, the group went on to develop the community garden.

Ballan Community Garden

Dee was funded by Carlow Education Training Board to run a six-week course for the Ballon gardeners that included a mixture of theory and demonstration to help them develop their garden.

Borris & Hacketstown Focus Groups

Working with Carlow Development Partnership, during 2018 & 2019 garden workshops were provided to groups in the rural villages, engaging people from all walks of life, joining them on their journey of growth.

Advice & Consultation

Callan Community Garden, Co Kilkenny

Funded by Kilkenny Leader Project as part of their Community Food Initiative from November 2012 through to November 2014. Dee began mentoring and tutoring the (Callan) Droichead Family Resource Centre group with their garden, taking the group from seed to sale at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.

If you’re interested in finding out how a community can pull together with the garden as a focus point, here’s a blog post sharing Callan’s story.

Carlow Older Persons Forum Garden

Carlow Older Persons Forum

During 2019, Dee began working with Carlow Older Persons Forum providing concept drawings for a new garden design. Funded by County Carlow Development Partnership, a series of workshops took place throughout the summer months, encouraging new members to grow food and flowers, and join the community in the new premises.

Growing Vegetables in Containers

Castle Activation Unit, Carlow

Castle Activation Unit is a day centre for adults with psychiatric disabilities and in the secure garden Dee has worked with the group to create a container garden within their community garden. For the past four years, during the warmer months, Dee has worked with the staff and patients to provide a gentle form of horticultural therapy, and in doing so, they have created a very special type of community garden.

Clonegal Community Garden

Clonegal Community Garden, Co Carlow

Created in 2013, Clonegal community garden is situated in the centre of the award-winning village. Dee created a tailored hands-on series of six-week workshops to accommodate both experienced and beginner gardeners with the aim of increasing their knowledge and encouraging new members to join in the community garden activities.

10 Gardens to Visit in Carlow

Delta Centre, Carlow Town

Delta Centre in Carlow town provides training, residential care, respite, day and multi-sensory services to adults with learning disabilities. Dee has worked with adults at the centre, educating them about vegetable growing, and is now working with clients on a pilot project in a residential house to create an edible garden at the facility.

Bed 4: Others (carrots, beetroot, parsnips, celery and sweetcorn,onions, garlic, shallots )

Derrinturn Community Garden, Co Kildare

Derrinturn were in a stalemate situation. They had a beautiful piece of land but didn’t know how or where to start. Greenside Up provided the design, drawings and instructions that enabled this group to get growing.

Community education – how measurable is it?

Freshford Community Garden, Co Kilkenny

Dee was funded by Kilkenny Leader Partnership to work with a Back to Work Scheme group and develop the garden at the back of the community education building.

Glen na Bearu Community Garden, Bagenalstown

Gleann na Bearu Community Garden

With funding from various sources that include Respond Housing, Carlow Education Training Board, the County Council and Carlow Development Partnership, Dee has provided ongoing tuition since 2013 for the inter-generational gardening project in Gleann na Bearu Community Centre in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow. The garden has been designed with a strong upcycling theme resulting in them being chosen by The Nationalist Newspaper for the county Get Involved Competition, and them winning the Carlow County Council Overall Upcycling Challange for 2017.

Covering everything from growing food, food waste, composting, companion planting, green roof structures, wildflower gardening and beneficial insects, all the knowledge gained is being shared by the Youth Workers to the teenagers in Bagenalstown Youth Project  in the evenings.

October is Reuse Month - What Will You Re-imagine

Goresbridge Community Garden - July 2013

Goresbridge Community Garden, County Kilkenny

Goresbridge was the first community garden Dee worked with and the one that decided the direction of Greenside Up. Supported by Kilkenny Education Training Board and Kilkenny Leader Partnership, Dee helped this garden grow for four years, teaching adults the basics of growing vegetables.

Growing Food in Recycled Containers

Irish Wheelchair Association

Irish Wheelchair Association in Carlow Town have a small garden at their centre containing raised beds and a polytunnel.

I’ve been fortunate to work with different groups there for various time periods during the year and particularly enjoyed working with adults to grow food in recycled containers during 2015.

Kilkenny Allotments & Community Gardens

A new group in 2013, the Kilkenny Allotments and Community Garden project was a collaboration between Kilkenny Vocational school teachers, parents and allotment holders with Dee’s time funded by Kilkenny Education Training Board.

Summer 2012 Leighlin Parish Community Garden

Leighlin Parish Community Garden, Co Carlow

In collaboration with Leighlin Parish, funded by a combination of the Parish and Carlow Education Training Board and with full support and land donated by the parish priest, in 2012 Greenside Up helped this group of community gardeners design, develop, plant and grow their garden.

Millennium Court Community Garden

Millennium Court Community Garden, Co Kilkenny

What started with a hobby gardening course in the autumn of 2011 developed into a Back to Education accredited course in outdoor vegetable crop production funded by Kilkenny Education Training Board in 2012. The original garden was improved upon, added to and a full range of fruit and vegetables sown and grown. Knowledge learnt has been passed to the local children with nature and biodiversity themed summer camps being run by the centre.

Dee Sewell, Greenside Up Portfolio of Gardens

St Francis Farm, Tullow

St Francis Farm in Tullow, County Carlow, a Merchants Quay Ireland Centre, is a drug free residential rehabilitation centre that offers therapy, education and practical skills training in a rural farm setting. Dee has been working with residents weekly since the summer of 2017, creating an edible food garden, offering a hands on form of horticultural therapy.

School of Food, Thomastown, Gardening Course with Dee Sewell

School of Food, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny

A garden created at the School of Food in Thomastown to complement the kitchens and chef training centre. Dee has facilitated several garden courses at the School of Food, as well as accredited QQI Level 3 courses funded by Kilkenny Education Training Board in Outdoor Vegetable Crop Production, Planting and Potting and Horticulture.

Contact Greenside Up

For more information about how Dee Sewell can help you in your social food community garden

Community Gardens

Community Gardening ~ Website goes live AND a model for us all

September 22, 2012
Ballybeg CDP

Ballybeg CDP

I’ve had this post floating around my mind for several days but have been struggling with how best to convey my enthusiasm for two three community gardening projects of differing kinds that have surrounded me this week… do I tell you about them one post at a time or all at once? They are interconnected so I’m going for the latter and hope you’ll stick with me!!

To start with I’d like to introduce you to a community garden project that we were taken to in Waterford at the Harvest Festival.

Ballybeg Community Development Project (CDP)

As we drove past the gardens in our little tour bus I initially thought we were driving past a nursery, until we parked up in front that is. Full of (enviably huge) polytunnels and people chatting together, working alone but generally looking busy these gardens were set up in 2008 to help and support the local community. Project managed by Liz Riches, with funding and help from local business, government agencies and the local council who donated the land in an area where unemployment runs at 50%, many FETAC accredited and hobby courses have taken place here. Apart from the courses, over 30 small community/allotment plots are available for local residents for just €2.00 a month too.

Ballybeg CDP liaise and provide courses for children’s groups and schools, traveller and ethnic groups, people on the autistic spectrum, as well as employed and unemployed men and women which gives the project a real sense of inclusion and offers individuals the opportunity to cross invisible boundaries that often keep them apart.

Ballybeg Community Development Project

Ballybeg CDP - salad greensIs it possible to overuse the word inspired? Possibly but if anywhere deserves it, it’s Ballybeg. The courses have been going so well that in 2011 the team opened a not-for-profit garden and advice centre that also offers a landscaping and design service, with all the proceeds being ploughed back into the CDP. Paul Powers, one of our tour guides for the brief time we were there could barely hide his excitement that The Secret Millionnaire had paid a recent visit to the garden  project – a highlight for all those who’ve worked so hard to ensure the gardens success, both in voluntary and paid capacities.

Aside from the training and social elements, the project also works with the local business community. The first polyunnel we were introduced to was full of salads earmarked (for amongst others) Bodega, a vibrant bistro in the centre of Waterford we were to eat at later that evening.

Which brings me neatly to the second project…

Kilkenny Leader Partnership (KLP) Rural Development Programme – Community Food Partnership

Several months ago I was invited to tender for a new initiative led by KLP, tutoring and advising community gardens in my area. Yesterday I was delighted to hear that funding has been approved and I will shortly be meeting and  working with new Goresbridge and Callan gardeners. This project takes community gardening a step further in that apart from offering all the usual benefits (some of which I’ve outlined in previous posts) it specifically aims to help individuals recognise possible self-employment opportunities.

As the recession bites deeper and environmental concerns grow, these projects are exciting and important elements that show communities the  potential and power that working together (as clearly demonstrated in the Ballybeg story above) can achieve. They are at the heart of developing  strategies for creating more sustainable communities.

The Community Garden Network - Supporting community gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland

The Community Garden Network Group

At the 2011 GIY Gathering a workshop was held on community gardening where we explored the need for a network group and made an appeal for anyone interested to sign up. I volunteered to coordinate the group. Ten people signed up there and then and a couple of months later we held our first meeting in Dublin with over 40 attendees from across the island. We’ve had two further meetings which have resulted in a common goal of launching an online presence for community gardeners in Ireland and Northern Ireland –  exactly a year after we made the initial plea.

A year might seem like a long time to launch a site but there were many elements and groups to consider and everyone involved has done so in a voluntary capacity with no outside funding. Importantly the CGNG is a member-led independent group  that currently has five partner organisations in the form of Transition Ireland & NI, Dublin City Growers, Healthy Food for All, GIY Ireland and The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardener who are all keen to see this work.

This online presence gives anyone involved with community gardening something new. It gives us the opportunity from one central location to share, advise, and help others whether they are new to community gardening or old hands, on the periphery or fully involved.

How does all this tie in?

Without my harvest festival trip I wouldn’t have known about Ballybeg CDP. As a result of that trip I will be able to pass on that knowledge to the KLP project as well as liaise and pick up tips from the Ballybeg team. The work and knowledge they are prepared to share will be invaluable not only to me but to other similar projects setting up around the country (there’s one in Cork in its early development stage for instance).

Amongst other advantages, the new CGN ning site will give us the opportunity to quickly share and find out about these types of projects, give us contact points and enable us to create our own inner community supporting one another.

If you know of anyone who might benefit from knowing about the Community Garden Network and its online presence, please help us get the word out and point them in the direction of the new site here.

Maybe a sense of community is something you develop as you get older and perhaps it’s one of the reasons that social media is so important in many people’s lives in that somewhere along the line we’ve lost that sense.

Yes we come into this world alone and we’ll be leaving it alone, but life’s sure a lot easier when there are people around to support, befriend and care in the middle.

Leighlin Parish Community Gardeners

Leighlin Parish Community Gardeners – Sharing the Harvest


Vegetable Garden

Plant Holders from Breezy Garden ~ Product Review

June 20, 2012
nasturtiums in Breezy Garden pot holders

Companion Planting in Breezy Garden pot holders

If you like growing flowers or vegetables in containers, you may like to add these inexpensive plant holders to your shopping list…

I’ve been saving my review of the Breezy Garden plant holders so that I could show you a couple of pictures of plants in them rather than little seedlings.

I met Noel Joyce last year at an Enterprise Board lunch and was intrigued by his product when he explained it to me… simple plant pot holders that could be fixed to fencing, making gardening more accessible to those less able to bend or dig. I wont go into the detail of how the plant holders are fixed to fencing as The Secret Garden did a great job explaining it in their review and none of the gardens I work with have any fencing. This was not a problem however as the holders have holes in them allowing them to be screwed or nailed into walls or panels.

Breezy garden plant holders

Breezy garden plant holders

The first group who saw them were a bunch of horticultural therapy adults I garden with where all the plants are grown in raised beds. Here we screwed the planters into an arbour and added pots with peas that we hope will grow up the lattice. It was also mentioned that the pot holders could be screwed into the sides of the high raised beds adding an additional planting area.

The following day I took the remaining pack (that contains three plant holders) to  Goresbridge Community Garden. There’s a large grey wall there that we’ve often thought needed a bit of cheer. We  added pots with nasturtiums that will trail down, brightening up an otherwise dull space, with the flowers acting as a companion plant in the garden too, we have a double bonus.

nasturtiums in Breezy Garden potsAll the gardeners I’ve shown this product to liked it and asked where they could buy it. The could see the benefits not only to people wishing to garden with mobility problems but also as a way of adding to their own container planting and adding colour to areas that have so far been neglected. Retailing at €4.99 for three holders, do bear in mind that you’ll be putting regular plastic plant pots into them and if you were setting out to buy terracotta or fancy plastic pots you’d be spending a lot more than that for three containers…

What do you think? Could you see a home for the plant holder in your garden? I know I’m eyeing up bits of wall here now that I hadn’t considered decorating with flowers, vegetables or herbs.

Community Gardens

Community gardens – it’s not just the plants that grow …

May 23, 2012

Goresbridge Community Garden - Blueberries & herbs before & afterGoresbridge community garden was my first… and I don’t mind admitting that it was with slight trepidation that I arrived at my first session, not knowing quite what to expect. Still a fledgling business, I’d been booked to deliver a hands on gardening course to a group of adults who didn’t know each other, in a garden dominated by a polytunnel.

Goresbridge - top corner - before & afterAfter the introductions we drank some tea and took a look at the garden to see what could be done with it. The group hadn’t anticipated using the outside garden to grow vegetables, they’d thought it too small and were expecting all the work to take place undercover, but it had potential.

Insect friendly plants grown from seeds by village (EcoUnesco)Teens

Since that morning in the early March of 2010 I’ve helped several community gardens start up and as a result of working with them, was instrumental in setting up the Community Garden Network Group, supporting community gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Goresbridge Community GardenIt’s taken me over half my lifetime to find my vocation, but there’s something very special about community gardens.

Some get it right first time, some have to work at it, but I’m sure anyone who’s committed to community gardening will agree, it’s worth the effort.

This morning I was chatting with Valerie (one of the most charming gardeners I’ve had the pleasure of meeting) as we were fixing up the bean poles at Goresbridge. We were reflecting on those early days, the people we’d met, the lessons we’d learnt.

Valerie picking runner beans in 2010 at Goresbridge Community Garden

Valerie picking runner beans in 2010

The garden didn’t start off as a community garden, it evolved. It wasn’t rushed, it happened. What started off as a little scrap of land, transformed into a delightful garden and in doing so, transformed the lives of several of us working in it.

That’s what makes community gardens so very special – they’re not just about the plants, they’re about the people… in their own nature driven way, they help us grow too.

Community Gardening in Ireland

January 19, 2012

The benefits of community gardening are many…

From learning about growing food to making friends, community gardens have so much to offer.

They’re about sharing – both the work and the harvest and they can have very positive social, economic and environmental impacts in communities.

They create an awareness of the local area and can transform overgrown, unloved spaces into welcoming, vibrant places. Community gardens are usually open to all ages, from seasoned gardeners to complete beginners.

Learning by doing is the best way to develop confidence in new skills and participants are encouraged to practice what they’ve learnt in their own allotments, gardens or balconies.

Dee will be helping the following community gardens from early spring 2012. If you’re interested in joining the group please get in touch with the contact below.

Mondays: Millennium Court Community Centre, Kilkenny –

Penny on 056 7760187 (between 2pm – 6pm)

Wednesdays: Goresbridge Rural Development Office –

Breda on 059 977 5646 (between 10am – 1pm)

Fridays: Leighlinbridge Parish Centre –

Liz Dunne – 059 9722607 (between 9am – 1pm)

If you’re interested in setting up a Community Food Garden in the Carlow/Kilkenny/Kildare regions and you’d like some advice, contact Greenside Up for further information.

Dee is currently coordinating the establishment of a new All Ireland Community Garden Network Group. If you’d like more information on it, or would like to be added to the mailing list, just send an email.

Community Gardening in Ireland?

If you’re involved with, or just interested in Community Gardening, then please follow the Irish Community Gardening Facebook page:


GIY Ireland Community Garden Forum

GIY will be mapping all community gardens in the island of Ireland.

“As a complete novice I got a good idea of what I need to do to start gardening – the pro’s & cons!!” – G Harding, Fenagh.
Community Gardens

Looking for fellow community gardeners – are you one?

November 12, 2010

LOOKING FOR FELLOW COMMUNITY GARDENERS – ARE YOU ONE?Attention all community gardeners….. would you be interested in finding each other? Swapping ideas and information?  If so then please read on.

Anybody who’s read my report on the Goresbridge Community Gardenin Kilkenny will have realised how much I enjoyed the project.

It didn’t seem to matter how you were feeling on a Wednesday morning or what mood everybody was in, after just a few minutes, smiles appeared and the sharing and learning began.

The garden was the first community garden I’ve worked with from start to finish, and towards the end we incorporated a Fetac Level 3 Horticulture course into it, giving five out of the regular ten gardeners who opted to do the course, a chance to get a qualification too.

As I was working with the Group I often wondered how other community gardens functioned.  My mind was full of questions: how many are out there, how many gardeners do they have, is anybody invited to join in, how many hours do they meet, who does the watering, how do they fund it ????? and so the list went on ….

Recently I contacted Hans at the Organic Centre in Leitrim and he wasn’t aware of any national groups or organisations for community gardeners, and the .org web page that claims to be for Irish Community Gardeners appears to be full of ads.

And then out of the blue I received a call from Thomas McDonagh. He found me through Futureproof Kilkenny (I did a couple of grow your own workshops with them in the early summer). He was interested in taking a look at the community garden and having a chat.

Thomas is at the start of a fundraising cycle around Ireland in a bid to raise enough cash for a trip to Columbia next year (please support him if you can, and look out for him too!).  He’s interested in Food Sovereignty (Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems) and Thomas’ blog page is really worth following.  One of the scary points he quotes, and one that I wasn’t aware of is “Ireland is increasingly dependent on imported food, to the point that in the case of an oil shock, the country would “probably not even have food supply for a week”. (Irish Independent 26-07-08).

Thomas will be visiting food projects and community gardens around the country and writing about them and his travels on the blog.  His volunteer work in Colombia will include learning more about their perspectives on food sovereignty and developing links between our countries.

So brilliant! At last a link to other people who are concerned about our over-dependence on shop bought or imported food, and also to those interested in communities getting together and growing their own food.

Now what? Well I’d like to find out who they are and how and where they grow their food. I’d love to meet up with them at some stage too…. whether I visit as many community gardens as I can over the coming weeks and months, or whether we can arrange some kind of get together, I’m not sure.  The first thing, I guess, is to find each other and maybe swop links, contacts and web pages.

In the meantime I’ve set up an Irish Community Gardens Facebook Page as a way of trying to find some of you. If anybody reading this is involved in community gardening (in Ireland or elsewhere in the world I’d love to hear from you), either leave a comment, email me or find the Facebook page.

We make a difference on our own. Imagine what we could do together.

Community Gardens

10 reasons why every village, town and city needs a Community Garden

October 24, 2010
Community n. Common enjoyment; participation; a body of people having common interests.
Community Food Projects bring people together in local communities of all
ages, abilities and social backgrounds, where they share knowledge and interact.

What do participants gain from being involved in a Community Garden or Community Food Project?

1.  They learn new skills and how growing, harvesting and eating your own food is good for both mental and physical health.

2.  They learn about the seasonality of food and pick up recipe ideas and new cooking techniques.

3.  They try out different foods and flavours that were once popular but may not be available in supermarkets.
4.  They’re encouraged to grow their own food at home in tandem with the community food project.
5.  They learn how successes and failures of growing food are ‘normal’.
6. They have a better appreciation of how difficult it can be to grow food without using chemicals and why organic food is generally more expensive at markets and in shops.
7.  They’re more likely to shop locally, searching out better quality foods and flavours.
8. Participants have a better appreciation of their community.
9. Community gardens are available to people on a tight budget.
10. Participants will have learnt a basic life skill – they will know that whatever happens, they will be able to provide food for themselves and their families.
This list could go on. There’s room for a community garden everywhere.  As the Goresbridge project shows, you only need a small scrap of land to create one and an enthusiastic couple of people to get one up and running. So why not give it a go.
If you know of any community gardens running in your area I’d love to hear about them.  Please leave a comment or link with details so I can follow it up, or send me a tweet Thanks.
Community Gardens

Community Gardening….. a sight to behold

August 11, 2010

I haven’t blogged about the Community garden I’ve been working with as I’ve been posting pictures onto my facebook page ( and have loaded a .pdf file onto the Greenside Up web page ( for anybody interested in how we started the community garden in Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny.  James, one of the earlier gardeners also uploaded photos into Flikr of the garden in progress (also accessible from the web page).

However…….. I was there again this morning and am astounded by the lush growth of all of the fruit and veg.  I’m aware that the first year of growth can be very productive but the garden really is a sight to behold.

It’s in a sheltered spot in the middle of the village which helps, but the size and quantity of produce must be down to the quality of the ‘Hoolihan Muck’ (apologies if I’ve mis-spelt it) donated and added to the majority of the beds at the beginning of the growing season.

Our tomatoes went from this…………….

……to this in just a couple of months.  Finnusa, Valerie & Liam spent some time today thinning out and defoliating as the trusses were so heavy they were starting to snap the stems, and the fruit were in danger of not ripening.
The runner bean and nasturtium bed is lush with growth too. 
To achieve this we dug a trench about a spade deep and wide and filled it in with the ‘Hoolihan Muck’.
Runner beans are a greedy plant so planting them in a trench really helps with growth.   We’d planted the seeds into modules in the polytunnel and a week or so before they were due to go outside, prepared the trench.
Valerie harvesting runner beans 11 August
 This was the result today.  This was also the first time Colette and her family had ever eaten runner beans (as you don’t tend to see them for sale in supermarkets), and they went down a treat!
We have had more success in the polytunnel too………….. the cucumbers, courgettes and peppers are producing like mad!
And the newly built herb bed was impressive too:

Picking off the leaves on the beetroot that had been infested with the Beet Leaf Miner (see previous blog) seems to have done the trick and the bed of thyme is flourishing.  We even have a bud starting to appear on the globe artichoke (which looked touch and go when it was planted).

Everything grown in this small garden has been sown from seed this year by the gardeners since March.  It went from a gardening group to a FETAC accredited course and from a group of strangers to a group of friends that have been a joy to work with.

The Rural Development Office in Goresbridge is open every morning from Monday to Friday and anyone interested can drop in to have a look during this time.