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community garden network

Community Gardens, Lifestyle

Spring into Action

February 23, 2016

Springing into action

A strange thing happened recently. After 6 years of blogging I lost my ‘voice’. One minute it was there, then it was gone. I’ve countless drafts sitting in my google docs, but none made it here and I was beginning to wonder if my blogging voice would ever come back. Perhaps it was something to do with the flu bug I’m now sharing my fourth week with, but gone it was and it’s only as a result of taking these photos that I’m tentatively easing my way back in.

Springing into actionUntil this week outdoor activities have been at a minimum. Yesterday that began to change as Mr G and I managed to take advantage of the spring sunshine and we headed out for a walk. It was an amazing experience as the reintroduction into the wild was bursting with spring sights and sounds and I’m really thankful we took the time to do so.

Spring

We walked at a steady pace for fun and not exercise. Because of this, we were able to hear and watch the various birds twittering with one another and just caught the sound of twigs snapping, alerting us to a fox running for cover in the distance. We listened to streams trickling through the undergrowth as they headed down to the river. When we stopped for a few moments and were really quiet, we were able to hear the soft, deep sound of male frogs calling for mates throughout the woodland.

We are in awe of the amount of frog spawn that’s been laid in the puddles and ponds in the forestry. After the big machines and lorries departed, they left behind deep tracks all around the clearings which the frogs have taken full advantage of. There isn’t a single track that we could see that wasn’t full of the gelatinous spawn. We could hear the adults all around us but could barely get a glimpse. Whether they heard our tracks or could feel our vibrations on the pathways I’m not sure, but it was nye on impossible catching a glimpse of a frog, bar this one that we rescued before our young dog was tempted to play with it too enthusiastically.

Hopefully, I’m now turning a corner on the energy front as I’ve so many plans and ideas in the pipeline it’s starting to get frustrating. I’ve also been blessed with the help of an amazingly enthusiastic and upbeat work experience woman, Frances of Healing by Franc, who’s enjoying learning about the intricacies of running a small, social enterprise as she studies for her own Fetac 5 in Horticulture.

Having the responsibility of a trainee has allowed me to really focus on the weeks ahead and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. Here’s some of the plans.

Community Gardens Ireland (CGI)

After a week of day time TV, I couldn’t stand it any longer so sat down and wrote down my goals for the year, both personal and professional. My enthusiasm for community gardens hasn’t diminished at all and in fact, the more I see and hear, the more I’m convinced we need an active community garden network to support and help one another.

I took the opportunity of some quiet time to spruce up the new cgireland.org website and as a result, feel that it’s finally starting to take shape. We’ve begun mapping the community gardens, something we were unable to do on our forum site. We now have over 165 community gardens mapped, with the majority of Northern Ireland still to go. I’ve also begun to add In Focus posts on the CGI blog written by various community gardens; an idea I started on the Greenside Up blog but feel the real home of such posts should be on the CGI blog.

A section that’s been proving popular on the CGN website is the newly created Training and Education initiatives, as well as Synergies with other agencies and organisations. These are both tucked under the Resources section which apart from giving tips on how to set up a community garden, also include information on setting up food co-ops, community cafés and buying clubs, an idea Frances and I are about to start exploring with neighbours.

As a result of spending a few hours dedicated to this project, plans for the community network have fought to get out of my head and as a result, we now have a draft strategy document in place for the coordinators to work towards and we are actively looking for funding avenues to help us continue our work.

Creating Local Community Garden Networks

Talking of funding, at the end of last year I heard I’d been awarded a small amount of Local Agenda 21 funding to create a Carlow Community Garden Network and explore the possibility of community gardens becoming Eco hubs, or places of adult environmental learning. I’m in the process of planning a workshop in Carlow in April and am very much looking forward to helping representatives of the dozen or so gardens in Carlow sit down in one place and introduce one another.

Working with Community Gardens

Last year I was funded by Carlow Kilkenny ETB to work with a small community garden in Glenn na Bearu, Bagenalstown and I’m thrilled that more funding has been granted to this wonderful group to enable me to head back to them in April. Last year we ran a session on garden design and as a result, they helped design a bigger and better community garden, adding several more raised beds. If you’re local and reading this we’d love to see you in the garden on Wednesdays for the practical workshops, tea and cake. All are welcome.

More community garden projects will be coming on stream after Easter; if you’re interested in hearing more about them sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss out.

Glenn na Bearu Workshops 2016

Working with Individuals

In a couple of weeks I’ll be welcoming budding gardeners into our own kitchen garden and sharing the basics of propagating with them. From seeds to cuttings, layering and bulb division, we’ll be looking at several ways we can start growing food, shrubs and flowers without it costing a bomb. To accommodate the workshop the polytunnel has been repaired and tidied, the willow fedge and autumn fruiting raspberry canes have been pruned, and the garden in general is getting a good tidy up. Now if only the lawn would dry out I’d even be tempted to cut the grass.

There’s still a couple of places left on the first workshop in March so if you’d like to join us, you can read more about the course details here.

Synchronicity

Synchronicity is a wonderful word and within hours of writing down my goals, ‘coincidences’ began to happen, one of which, was an email landing in my inbox about a facilitation workshop that will be taking place in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary. As the opportunity to facilitate conversations about community gardens and the environment begin to happen, so too does my wish to learn more about guiding them. I can’t wait to learn more about the art of facilitating from a couple of men I greatly admire in this respect, Davie Philip and Chris Chapman who worked with us in the very early days of the Community Garden Network.

The Art of Facilitation Poster

Building Communities

Once we begin to look, there’s so much going on in communities that can engage us and give us the opportunity to meet like-minded people. Community gardens in particular have a massive potential to become outdoor education centres for adults, giving us the opportunity to step away from our screens or work, busy or lonely lives for a couple of hours and learn about nature, wildlife, food and the environment with others.

They are ideal places to go if you’d like to start gardening but don’t know how, if you live in a flat with no garden or live on your own with too much garden. Community gardens give us the opportunity to make friends, sharing the work and sharing the harvest.

Are you tempted? If so, take a look at the map above and see if there’s a community garden near you.

Community Gardens

Was Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?

September 13, 2015

Was Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?

Suzanne Campbell of RTE Drivetime asked me early on the Friday morning if festival goers at the Electric Picnic were ready for a community garden in the midst of their music and arts festival. I stumbled a response and it didn’t air – I wasn’t able to give a direct answer as we’d never done it before. Now the festival is over I’ve had time to reflect. I believe that EVERYONE can be ready for a community garden once they’ve been given the opportunity to experience and get a flavour of what they’re about, no matter where they appear.

A *recent study found that experiencing nature makes us more likely to want to save it. I wonder if Cultivate, before they invited several groups to create the pop-up community farm and garden at Global Green in Electric Picnic already knew that…

Creating a Community Farm & Garden at Electric Picnic

Was Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?We only met once, several months earlier, but the groups involved in the garden share a passion for the environment, health and quality of food. Within the space of a few hours on the Thursday before the Electric Picnic opened to the public, we worked together to create an area of tranquility and calm in the midst of an eclectic, chaotic festival that was expecting around 50,000 people to pass through its gates. We quickly felt a tangible sense of acceptance as we pooled our plants, resources and ideas and enjoyed each others company as we did so.

We succeeded in creating a community garden that became a welcome retreat for some and a place for others to connect with like-minded people in as natural environment as you can build in a small, festival space. We created the garden with a few straw bales, a pile of pallet chairs and dozens of container grown fruit, vegetables and trees and it worked.

Was the Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?For three days, we were immersed in plants, people and music. We shared stories and conversations with people who are doing their best to make our world a better place, and were hugged for doing so. While we were there we learnt from and soaked up the positive energy from one another.

Community gardens allow us the opportunity for expression and connection and it’s one of the many reasons I’m so passionate about encouraging and supporting them.

The Community & Farm Garden in Global Green

If you keep reading, you’ll find out about some of the people involved in building this little garden in the Global Green eco-village, as well as some of the inspiring community projects taking place in Ireland, where people are making changes within their own communities.

Community Gardening by the Coast

Was Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?

Festival goers stop by to paint stones

Festival goers saw some beautifully crafted surf boards and were able to paint beach stones brought along by an inspiring bunch of sun-kissed surfers who glowed with health and vitality.

The friendly young group from Moy Hill Community Garden are growing and swapping organic food on land they’ve now bought on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and by getting stuck in and digging, are attracting others to get involved in their garden by the sea too.

Was Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?During the weekend passers by were encouraged to place tiny tiles in colourful mosaic patterns on circular boards

These were destined for the East Claire Community food co-op and cafe, a Scarrif Community Garden that now employs four gardeners and promotes the growth and sale of affordable fresh food, grown without chemicals.

Was Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?

Flower Sprouts in Grow Bags

Urban Farming and Unusual Vegetables

As we walked and talked we stroked trays of microgreens perched on pallet seating, were inspired by potatoes growing in large water containers, and goggled at new hybrid flower sprouts brought along by the Urban Farm who, among many things, are showing teenagers how to grow food in urban Dublin.

Was Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?

Niel Chills out with Percy Throwaway

The Community Gardens Ireland introduced several varieties of Andean vegetables that are growing in County Kilkenny, helping to highlight how limited our food choices are when we shop in supermarkets, and the fantastic food choices we have when we grow our own.

We also launched Percy Throwaway to the world, a steam punk bug hotel built by Mr G that offered many photo and learning opportunities.

Was the Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?

Was the Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?Collaborative Growing

Festival goers were able to discuss the pros and cons of beekeeping and learn about, vertical pallet building and Master Composting schemes. They threw balls through cutouts and answered thought-provoking questions about nature and climate change in a game from Cloughjordan Community Farm.

In the Tipperary Eco village they grow food for families who are paying a regular fee to develop and run the farm that provides their vegetables throughout the year in their Community Supported agriculture scheme.

Was the Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?

GreenMe encourage upcycling clothing

The Road to Paris

Friends of the Earth encouraged us to think about the Road to Paris, a campaign that aims to be the strongest and most influential voice, platform and process supporting a global climate change deal in Paris during COP21; while a talented puppeteer from Green Me performed an enchanting, twice daily show for children about growing seeds.

Was the Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?Fitness and Fun

Dublin Cycling Campaign showed us some quirky, homemade bicycle contraptions, built to encourage us away from our fuel pumping cars, whilst the Bike Institute encouraged fitness as punters raced against one another on static bikes to the tunes of various DJ spun tunes.

Climate and Seeds

Self Help Africa displayed wonderful photographic images that captured dusty villagers in Africa coping with the effects of climate change that the West have inflicted upon them. Irish Seedsavers invited us to play a human fruit machine game that saw festival goers leave with big smiles and small packets of seeds to plant at home.

Was the Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?Meditation and Art

Surrounding us all were charming yurts, an art-filled tent and a comfy, cosy tepee, as well as carefully crafted sculpture and trickling water that flowed from a natural feature, creating spaces and encouraging visitors to absorb or reflect.

Despite looking out on the Despacio big top and the funfair, a comment was made that the community garden was

“a haven in the midst of all the noise and crowds”

No better compliment for a garden. Everyone who took the time to visit us walked away with a smile, and a glimpse of how many of us are working in and with nature to create and promote richer, more connected ways of life in their communities.

Was Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?

Giving people everywhere the opportunity to be in a community garden is an educating and enriching experience, no matter whether it’s on a rooftop, a two acre field or a small scrap of land.

The more people are able to visit, experience or work in community gardens, the more they’ll be likely to join, create or support them and as they do so, learn about the origins of food, soil, wildlife, food security and working with nature. Importantly, in an age that is becoming more disconnected as human interaction swings towards virtual, getting outside in a garden with people allows us the opportunity to continue to interact with one another.

Nature attracts us. Nature can calm and heal us. Nature connects us, and those of us who experience and love being surrounded by nature, simply want to save it.

Have you spent some time in the company of nature recently?

* Source: Mother Nature News.

Community Gardens

Come Inside and Have a Look at An Gairdín Beo

March 15, 2015

An Gairdín Beo is a lovely Irish saying that literally translates to ”The Garden Alive”. It’s the name a group of us agreed upon last autumn for a very special urban community garden project that’s coming together in Carlow town.

Carlow Community Garden - An Gairdin Beo

Last year, the Mercy Sisters offered a 36 year lease on a two acre wilderness that sits next to St Leo’s College and Convent, giving the community an opportunity to create a garden that will be:

“based on an ecological orientation, on valuing diversity, sustainability, organic methods and indigenous species. It recognises that we as humans, are part of nature too. It is committed to the preservation and protection of the site as a green area for the greatest diversity of life possible.”

For the past few months I’ve been one of around twenty people who’ve volunteered to get this project off the ground, many representing communities and groups within Carlow town and several with links to St Leo’s College that stretch back to their childhood and beyond.

Watching a Community Garden Evolve

Carlow Community Garden - An Gairdin BeoExcellently facilitated by Chris Chapman of The Change Exploratory and encouraged along by Srs Mary Carmody, one of the drivers behind the Baltinglass Community Garden, back in September we split into three teams – governance, landscaping and catalysing. It’s the later that I offered to help out with and since then our group have worked to create the garden’s vision, community involvement and put together documents that will help with funding applications. As one of the coordinators of the Community Gardens Ireland, the experience has been an enjoyable and valuable learning opportunity.

Over the coming months there will be a tremendous amount of physical work to do, money to be found and community engagement to be coordinated. However, a lot of groundwork has taken place already, the foundations of the project have been laid and we hope this community garden will now begin to grow and thrive, helping to positively contribute towards the ongoing development of the town centre and bring some life and purpose back to it. Time and care has been taken to engage everyone from the beginning with the hope that An Gairdín Beo will evolve gradually to “become a space in which diverse people can connect more to nature, to the growing and making of food and to each other”.

Come and Have a Look at the Wild Community Garden

Photo Credit: Eilish Langton

Photo Credit: Eilish Langton

On 21st March, the weekend of th Spring Equinox, we will be holding a “come and have a look” afternoon with various side activities planned from moss graffiti and seed planting and identification to chatting to everyone involved and offering refreshments.

We’ve sent invitations out to around 200 schools, organisations and the community of Carlow in the hope they’ll drop by then leave with the desire to get involved in this project as it progresses. In time we hope An Gairdín Beo will offer a socially inclusive combination of art, food, nature, vegetable growing and community to people of all ages in Carlow who want to engage with it.

We’re lucky to have two buildings on site already that will offer places for educational involvement and perhaps more importantly, hot cups of tea and refreshments and a place to meet and chat. I’m feeling very blessed and honoured to be involved with An Gairdín Beo from the beginning and can already feel new friendships being formed as a result.

Carlow Community Garden Wild Area - An Gairdin BeoIf you’re in or close to Carlow town on Saturday, we hope you’ll drop by and “come and have a look” at what we’re up to. If not, I hope you’ll stay tuned to watch the progress of the garden over the coming months, to see how a community project can come together when lots of people are included from the start. You never know, it might help to inspire similar projects in your own communities.

 

Find Out More About Community Gardens in Ireland

If you’re interested in community gardens, you’ll find lots of resources here on the website. If you’re in Ireland, jot the 28th June into your diary where those of us interested in community gardens will be coming together at The School of Food in Thomastown, County Kilkenny to share our stories and learn more about this social form of gardening.

Community Gardens

Community Gardens Connecting in Galway

February 26, 2015
Community Gardens Connecting in Galway

Leighlin Parish Community Garden, County Carlow – Photo credit: Philippa Jennings

When people connect great things can happen and community gardens are no exception. On the 8th March community gardeners from Ireland and Northern Ireland will be meeting in County Galway to help and support one another to gain more from this form of group gardening. The following gives an insight into the network as well as Doorus Community Orchard, the location of our March networking event.

Community Gardens in Ireland

Many of you will be aware that I’m one of the coordinators of the Community Gardens Ireland (CGI) that was established in 2011, primarily to support community gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland, but also allotments and Community Supported Agriculture schemes.

Generally CGI offers a virtual network of support with its Facebook Group. However, we also run a Twitter feed as well as a Facebook Page and Group for anyone who doesn’t want to register for the forum and we aim to meet up in person every three or four months in various locations around the country.

Apart from getting a glimpse at other community gardens when we get together in various locations, the networking events also give us an opportunity to meet fellow community gardeners who we’ve struck up friendships with online, as well as swap ideas, pick up tips and learn from one another or any of the expert speakers invited to join us.

Doorus Orchard Community Garden, Kinvara, Co Galway

The next Community Garden Network get together will be taking place in Doorus Orchard Community Garden in Kinvara, County Galway on 8th March from 10am until 4.30pm and anyone involved or interested in community gardening is welcome.

The events are free though if you’ve some spare cash we ask for donations to cover costs as we are a voluntary group with very limited funding and we ask people to bring their own lunch and a bit extra to share. We always try to include an educational element into the networking events and our Galway meet up is no exception.

Community Gardens Connecting in Galway

Community Gardens are great places to educate people about pollinators

Lynn O’Keeffe is hosting us at Doorus Community Orchard and she will be showing us around the walled garden, as well as explaining how the community gardeners there propagate and plan the perennial flowers and vegetables in the garden to attract pollinators.

This is something I’ve a keen interest in having recently joined the Association of Beekeepers as well as signed up to be a Bumblebee Monitor for the Biodiversity Centre (more details here if you’d like to volunteer too). I’m very much looking forward to learning more about planting for pollinators from Lynn.

A bit about Doorus Orchard

Community Garden NetworkThe walled garden that’s attached to Doorus House Youth Hostel dates back to 1866 but became overgrown over the years until it was rescued and replanted thanks to Heritage Council of Ireland funding. The money enabled the community gardeners to plant the land with over 50 heritage apple trees obtained from Irish Seed Savers, as well as many other types of fruit. All of the trees in the orchard were sponsored by local families, which encourages community involvement and they hold regular work and open days there. It’s open all year and anyone is invited to call in and see what’s they’re up to.

If you’re not able to join us for the network meeting, you can find out more about the project here.

Community Garden Network at the Electric Picnic

Community Garden Network at the Electric Picnic

Community Gardens Ireland

Since 2011 the network have met in several locations around the country, including Derry, Dublin, Leitrim, Athlone, Waterford and Cork. We’ve also exhibited two postcard gardens at Bloom Garden Festival in Dublin, and taken a stand at the Electric Picnic in Stradbally, County Kildare. We’ll no doubt be looking for volunteers to step up and help us promote the CGI this year too at various events.

If you’d like to learn more about the community garden network, click on any of the links above or leave a comment below. We’d love to meet you at one of the networking events or hear from you.

Please help us to spread the word about the network – the more we can connect, the more we can help one another.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

 

Community Gardens

Bloom 2013 – How a Postcard Community Garden Evolved

May 29, 2013
The exquisite twitter bird crocheted by Orla (@stichlilly) - The Finishing Touch

The exquisite Twitter bird crocheted by Orla (@stichlilly) hangs over the garden  – The perfect finishing touch to the CGN Bloom Postcard Garden given how it evolved.

“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.”

Bloom Garden Sketch
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.  Continue Reading…

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

 

Community Gardens

Vibrant Community Gardens and a Dream Almost Realised

May 20, 2012
Serenity Community Garden

Serenity Community Garden

A meeting of the Community Garden Network Group and a visit to Serenity Community Garden

Baby bath container Serenity Community GardenThe Serenity Community Garden in inner city Dublin held an open day yesterday. This wasn’t just any old open day but arranged so that both the general public and those of us in the newly formed Community Garden Network Group (CGNW) could have an informal get together in another community garden prior to our more ‘official’ meeting at the OPEN offices.

This was the third meeting of the CGNG that was formed last autumn with the idea of supporting community gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland and we were delighted to see that our dream is close to being realised.

Serenity Community Garden, Dublin - bottle greenhouseWe were shown a snippet of the new NING website that will be going live within the next few weeks and it’s given those of us at the meeting a renewed sense of purpose and excitement for the support this voluntary service will be able to offer to groups around the country.

Serenity Community GardenThe website will be a place to share learning and resources, a point of information for events, offer a free home for groups to tell everyone else about their gardens as well as give more practical information on setting up community gardens, legal information and funding ideas.

But more of that at another time. Today I wanted to share with you some images of the delightful Serenity Community Garden in Dublin 8, so you can see that community gardens don’t have to be on large pieces of land or that you need lots of money to fund them. All you need are a few enthusiastic individuals who want to garden together – sharing the work and then the produce.

Every city, town or village has areas like this one – are you tempted? Would you like  to find out for yourself what the ‘feel good’ factor is like that those of us already involved in community gardens carry around with us?

Raised Beds at Serenity Community GardenIf so, or if you’re already involved with one, you can register your details here.

Community Gardens

GIYing and Community Gardening

September 12, 2011

This weekend saw the largest annual get together of fruit and veg growing enthusiasts in Ireland at the GIY Gathering and Street Feast.  As part of the Waterford harvest food festival, whether you like eating food, cooking it, watching other people cook it , listen to people talk about it or just growing it, Waterford was the place to be.

I would love to have been there for the whole weekend and participated in many of the delights on offer. The mile long street market, cookery demos, the massive Barbecue gig, let alone the GIY feast and the expert Q and A session with gardening greats on the Sunday, but due to the usual parental taxi juggle could only make it for the Saturday – the GIY gathering – and am so glad I was there for that part at the very least.

GIY yummy lunch

What a fabulous, well organised, inspirational day – what more could a passionate veg grower want than to be in the company of so many equally passionate veg growers for a whole day and get to listen to organic gardening heroes Joy Larkcom and Bob Flowerdew speak too??!!

GIY Ireland, a registered not-for-profit charity, was launched just two years ago and already has over 10,000 people involved and nearly 100 groups around Ireland. Their aim is to inspire people to grow their own food and give them the practical skills to grow successfully – so what better place to launch the new Community Garden Network for Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Bob Flowerdew at the GIY Gathering, Waterford 2011

When I started helping community gardens a couple of years ago I was under the complete misunderstanding that there weren’t many of them in Ireland.

I’d googled and searched yet could only find a handful and they seemed to be in Dublin. As time went by and I started to help more gardens set up, I became aware of a few more, but it still felt lonely out there.

Then Thomas McDonagh contacted me – he was about to undertake a bicycle tour of Ireland, visiting as many community gardens as he could (in November!) to raise money for a trip to Columbia. Thomas blogged about his travels and it was a delight to follow his journey, virtually meet the people he met and look at pictures of other community gardens around Ireland through his regular updates.

And so the seed for a network of community gardeners was planted (npi)…. after Thomas I met up with Ciaran Walsh of GIY, then Suzie Cahn of Carraig Dulra who’d helped ten community gardens in Wicklow, and momentum started to build.

It was with anticipation that on Saturday afternoon a few panelists and a room full of people sat together and discussed the need for a network group, and low and behold, in just 35 allocated minutes ten like minded individuals agreed to help get it off the ground.

We hope to meet up in the coming weeks to make plans and discuss how it will be run, but it was unlikely to happen anytime in the near future without the incredible support of GIY Ireland who will be mapping our findings on their website and hosting a forum amongst other things, and it will need the enthusiasm of fellow community gardeners to help us find everybody!

So, in the meantime if you’re involved in a community garden in the island of Ireland or know of a community garden in your neighbourhood you can leave a comment below and we’ll let you know when the map and network is up and running!