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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.

Green

Communities – are they the key to our survival?

October 29, 2011

Community - Key to our survival

We’re all familiar with the term ‘Community’. Those of us who are regular users of social media are part of a global community. The Oxford dictionary definition is

the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common

We like to share, educate, chat, help and support each other. We get a buzz when people take the time to comment on our blog posts, like our facebook pages, view our youtube clips or retweet our links. It makes us feel that we are listened to, respected or just happy that we’ve found like-minded individuals to chat and chuckle with. But how can that sense of community transfer into the real world as opposed to a virtual one and help us to survive the challenging times we find ourselves in?

As an intricately social species we receive immense pleasure from being part of a group, and studies on teenagers have shown that adolescents actively seek peer groups as investments in their future survival**.

It strikes me that in the last couple of decades many people have been so busy collecting ‘goods’ they’ve forgotten about the importance of friends – or community.

This week Cultivate  launched a video that explains the term community resilience in a friendly, jargon free way. The video encourages us to look beyond ourselves and shows us that by working together we can change our way of thinking and ultimately steer our lives so that we can survive the climatic and economic challenges that we find ourselves in.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work with several community gardens in my surrounding area. In two weeks time a group of us will be meeting in Dublin to set up an All Ireland Community Garden Network with the aim of linking and supporting all the gardens on the island of Ireland. Many of us have realised that with hard work, passion and commitment we can make a difference, but as a group we can do so much more

I’ve written about the many benefits of Community gardening in previous posts – from the basic life skills of learning how to provide and preserve food through to friendships made and sense of achievement gained. However, community gardens can also be the catalyst that enables those same communities to look within themselves and begin to acknowledge that the only way to their survival is by working together. From gardening to supporting local business, to sharing knowledge, educating each other and listening to our elders, once we reach within our community we can flourish.

Communities with common goals can find considerable energy if they so desire – just look at the fundraising efforts and commitment expended when creating new sports facilities. Now imagine that same energy transferred into making a community more resilient – providing land that could be used to grow food in community supported agriculture or installing wind or solar power that could be used to run the homes and businesses within those communities.

This change in attitude takes time and as we  are discovering, time that our planet may not give us the luxury to take.  If we don’t wake up and shake up our communities soon and figure out how we are to survive the more difficult years ahead of us, we may just find we’ve left it too late.

*Oxford Dictionary
**Source: National Geographic Magazine 2011

photo credit: The world is mine – Day 37/365 via photopin (license)