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Community Gardens

From basket to gourmet menu

August 31, 2013

We usually share a cuppa and a pack of jammy dodgers when we meet, so sitting together sharing food from a gourmet menu that mentions the Goresbridge community garden was a very special occasion for the gardeners and a new step along their journey.

Goresbridge Community Garden Fresh Produce Basket

A small delivery to The Step House for Chef to create our Lunch

I recently wrote about the new connection we’ve made with The Step House in Borris, County Carlow. If you missed it you can read it here but we’re at the start of quite an adventure.

Head Chef of The Step House Hotel & Restaurant, Borris, Co Carlow - Alan Foley

Head Chef of The Step House Hotel & Restaurant, Borris, Co Carlow – Alan Foley

We’re learning about supplying a local restaurant with fresh seasonal food, from harvesting and packaging skills and techniques to providing a steady flow of raw food (or not) – this is a new experience for us all. Like all good restaurants, Head Chef Alan Foley is creating linkages with local food producers from foragers to community gardeners, meat, game and vegetable suppliers and he’s enthusiastically embracing the fresh, quality ingredients available so close to his kitchen.

Step House Gardeners & Foragers Gourmet Menu


Our supply of herbs and vegetables isn’t consistent enough just yet to demand payment. It was therefore suggested that in exchange for our produce, Chef would create a menu for us once a month that would include our herbs and vegetables.

It gives the gardeners the opportunity to taste produce that’s been grown and cared for in the community garden and Chef to come up with different and seasonal recipes that might entice his customers.

We weren’t disappointed.

My first venture into rabbit will not be my last…

Fois Gras Cream, Harvey Jelly, Chive & Brioche

Fois Gras Cream, Harvey Jelly, Chive & Brioche

Even the non beetroot lovers of the party enjoyed the flavours in this dish.

gravalax of salmon with beetroot

Gravalax of salmon with beetroot

We delivered the butternut squash underripe but wouldn’t have known once it was in the hands of a master. It was roasted, seasoned, roasted again before being whisked with milk to keep it as low fat as possible.

Lightly spiced Goresbridge Pumpkin Soup

Lightly spiced Goresbridge Pumpkin Soup

The pork was cooked gently for twelve hours (can’t wait for our own now!!)

Confit of Tom Salter's Pork Belly

Confit of Tom Salter’s Pork Belly with Goresbridge Sage, Crab Apple Jus

and lastly the dessert, well need I say more…

Local Strawberry, Blueberry & Wild Blackberry Salad with Amaretto Cream

Local Strawberry, Blueberry & Wild Blackberry Salad with Amaretto Cream

We finished off with Chamomile Tea served in the beautiful tea pot which reflected my sunflower frock no matter how I tried to photograph it.

Time for Tea

Time for Tea

As you might imagine, we’re looking forward to developing our relationship with the Step House and will be having a planning meeting to discuss the crops we can grow for the restaurant at our next meet up.

Gardeners, Foragers & ChefIf you’re wondering what you can grow over winter in the garden, take a look at the free monthly downloadable printouts available on the monthly Jobs section of the Greenside Up website.

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

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

Pruning Fruit in Goresbridge Community Garden

March 21, 2013

This time last year we were having a mini heat wave and drought followed by weeks of rain, yet here we are approaching the end of March and we still have snow forecasts! It makes you wonder what weather is in store for us for the rest of the year and how climate change will affect us all.

One thing for sure is that food prices will increase  as the unpredictability of the seasons makes it increasingly difficult for farmers to grow food crops or animal grain. As a result we’ll definitely be aiming to grow as much as we can here on the Greenside Up patch and I’ll be helping as many community gardeners to grow as I can too,.

Strawberries in Goresbridge Community GardenWith soil temperatures so low we’ve been very limited with what we can sow outside but that worked to our advantage this week in the community garden as it meant we could prune the fruit bushes and trees. I’ve included links to the RHS guidelines on pruning and care as they’re excellent for reference.

pruning apple trees in the community gardenWe started with the apple trees. There are two in the garden that, although still young, produced lots of fruit last year.

Then we moved over to the blueberries. Two have been planted in a large container full of erricasious (doesn,t contain lime) compost.


Blueberries in Goresbridge Community Garden

We finished by tidying up the strawberries which had temporarily been planted in the herb wheel. We plan to move them again into guttering that was donated by Anne (and carried to the garden!) which will be hung up in the polytunnel once we have the plastic cut to size. (There’s a blog post here on how to look after strawberry  beds.)

Strawberries in Goresbridge Community Garden

Lots of strong roots on the strawberry plants

Hopefully next week we’ll be sowing the onions, garlic and potatoes if we get a few dry days in between!

Community Gardens

Teenagers – doing it for themselves

June 22, 2012
Bridge Boys Youth Bench

Bridge Boys Youth Bench

We all know of areas in our towns or villages where groups of teens like to mooch around don’t we? If they’re not into sports or youth organisations like the Scouts or similar what is there for them to do?

Preparing the community garden flower bed

Working hard!

When I grew up there was a village youth club where we all hung out – we played pool, darts, bought snacks from the hatch or just sat and listened to music with our mates. But unless there are willing volunteers available to run these informal places where teens are allowed to be themselves, what else is there?Sowing seeds

This age group can seem intimidating or troublesome to some – they get blamed for all the vandalism and theft, they’re labelled and frowned upon.

Wildlife Friendly Flowers

Wildlife Friendly Flowers

However, in Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny teens are trying their best to change this perception by doing something for themselves, all under the gentle guidance of Martina from Ossary Youth.

In this pretty rural village the lads known as The Bridge Boys have rejuvenated an area they hang out in. With the EcoUnesco award as a goal, and a summer BBQ as a celebration of their achievements, the boys have been busy.

Snakes & Ladders

Snakes & Ladders (mobile phones act as counters)

I came across Jay, Evan, Aidan and David in February when I was asked to help them grow some vegetables for their party. They decided what they wanted to eat, they sowed the seeds and watched them develop. They were very energetic, keen to get stuck in and full of questions, slightly different from my usual gardening groups who generally prefer a slower pace and lots of tea! If you’re wondering what teenage lads chose to sow, what else but cosmic purple carrots! They also picked lettuce, basil, courgettes, peas, tomatoes, beetroot and lettuce from the seed tin.

Outside in the community garden they cleaned up an old bed, sowed wildlife friendly plants – sunflowers, cosmos, night scented stocks, calendula and aubrietta. The rest of the plants were put out by the river, the location of their summer shindig. We even snuck in a couple of courgette & tomato plants… wonder if anyone will notice.

What really blew me away with this project wasn’t the vegetable and flower planting that I’d been involved with, though I was impressed by their enthusiasm and hard work, it was seeing the boys handiwork building a “youth bench”. They’ve been cleaning and tidying all the benches by the river but creating the games bench apparently took four days of measuring, cutting, sanding, drawing and painting. When they’d finished they then went on to make three bird tables.

The outdoor games table has spinners that act as the dice and squares in the snakes and ladders large enough for their mobile phones which become the counters – isn’t it great?! This is ‘their’ bench. Now when the local youths hang out down by the river with their friends they have something to do. They also have a sense of pride and achievement and will be protective of their area.

Bridge Boys

Apart from feeling a sense of delight at seeing this project come to fruition, two other things made me smile ….the first was the expression on one of the mothers faces when she saw what her son had achieved (jaw dropping was a understatment). The second was the story I heard of an old lady who was spotted stealing all the flowers from one of the beds and squirreling them into her bag to take home. It wasn’t the teenagers messing up the village, but someone who really should have known better….

What do you think? Are you as impressed by the lads bench as I am? I can see villages everywhere wanting one of these. If you’re involved with any community groups perhaps you could make the suggestion and see where it leads…

Bridge Boys BBQ Veg

Lettuce, beetroot, basil, courgettes, carrots & tomatoes