In Focus: Hardwicke Street Garden Club, Dublin

Hardwicke Street Garden Club

Continuing with our In Focus highlights of community gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland, this month we’re please to introduce the Hardwicke Street Garden Club in Dublin 1. Jason Sheridon, the author of the following article, is a a social care worker involved in the Hardwicke project who has a particular interest in the use of therapeutic horticulture. He also shares some great photographs of the garden on social media.

Growing Food and Enhancing an Area

A short walk from the hustle and bustle of our capital’s thoroughfare, bees from a local honey project are busy collecting the nectar from plants in a well-established kitchen garden nestled in between two red brick apartment blocks. In the same garden, just around the corner from O’Connell Street, a group of local community gardeners come together to grow food and plant flora to enhance the surrounding area.

Hardwicke Community Garden DublinIt all began when a small group of volunteers came together in 2010, ranging in age from eight to eighty, to build raised beds, plant seedlings, and activate a vacant green space that lay idle for almost a decade, following a multi-million euro regeneration project of the complex.

Hardwicke Community Garden DublinThe garden flourished through the application of different skills and abilities of its local residents that came together to collectively develop the space, which was comprised of just a pathway and some hedging.

With some financial assistance from the Croke Park Community fund award, the group hand built a full size potting shed that doubles as a social space to the garden members. The shed is stocked with a variety of tools that has allowed members to creatively re-purpose materials into garden essentials such as bird boxes, benches, and much more. These materials, along with some of the more quirky features are sometimes donated by one garden member running a waste disposal service.

Grassroots Community

Hardwicke Community Garden DublinThrough a grassroots community effort, the people residing in area now had access to engage in the restorative activity of cultivating this urban garden. Through liaising with the local city council, the garden received the experienced knowledge of a trained horticulturist. The small-knit group attended regular classes in vegetable growing, propagation, and landscaping. Taking these newly acquired skills, the group entered the first of tree post card show gardens at the national Bloom festival in the local Phoenix Park.

Hardwicke Community Garden Dublin
Jason Sheridon welcomes Ron Finley to Hardwicke Community Garden

Bringing some valuable landscaping skills back to the community from participating in the festival, three years in succession, the group decided to embark on a community project in 2016 to build a memorial garden in memory of the children who died during the rising.

Hardwicke Community Garden DublinEmployment Opportunities

The garden continues to grow and there are lots of big plans for the future. The garden has assisted with training several participants of the Tus employment scheme over the last two years and has recently developed a program which see’s members visit a local farm and cultivate at an agricultural scale. The garden club is hopeful to further develop the project to provide more education and training in this busy section of the city of Dublin.

Hardwicke Community Garden Dublin

For more information take a look at the Hardwicke Garden Club or look out for them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Focus on Gleann na Bearu Community Garden, Co Carlow

Gleann na Bearu Community Garden is young in community gardening terms having only been around since the spring of 2015. We’ve achieved a lot already.

Gleann na Bearu Community Garden
October 2015

The small garden is located within the enclosed walls of a community centre in the heart of a Bagenalstown housing estate.

The community garden attracts around a dozen people with mixed abilities on Wednesday mornings from the surrounding area, as well as much further afield. Originally the garden was used by teenagers during the afternoon youth club in the Bagenalstown Youth Project.

Gleann na Bearu Community Garden
Bug hotel created by teens & adults

They decorated and planted up old tyres with flowers, as well as brightened up the walls with art using a variety of paint colours generosity donated by the local hardware stores who gave the volunteers unwanted mixes.

In the spring of 2015 Sarah Barron, the Education Resource Officer for Respond! Housing Association applied for funding for a tutor from Kilkenny Carlow Education Training Board and Dee Sewell from Greenside Up started working with a new group of gardeners on what became known as an intergenerational gardening course within Gleann na Bearu.

Focus on Gleann na Bearu Community Garden
Brightening up dull windowsills for the seedlings

For two hours a week for six weeks, Dee taught the adults the basics needed for a successful organic garden – crop rotation and vegetable families, weeding and pest control without chemicals as well as garden design, potting, planting and transplanting.

In the afternoons Catherine and Dani who work for Carlow Regional Youth Services, pass on everything they learn to the teenagers. The garden is like another room for the teens all year round and a place of tranquility for anyone looking for it. The young people are planning to build more pallet benches over the coming months and paint all the new raised beds; they’re an integral part of this shared space.

Focus on Gleann na BearuLast year Respond provided three raised beds and topsoil was sourced from the local hardware shop. Like many gardens, funding was tight so the group planted seeds into toilet rolls and tetra packs and learnt how to grow food on a budget. The course was so successful Dee’s funding was extended for another six weeks and more plants were grown.

During the summertime the group continued to meet, weed, drink tea and snack on biscuits, one of the most important aspects of a community garden. They held a garden party where food the gardeners had grown was cooked and shared, then in the autumn Dee returned and the group looked at the design once more. There was lots of space for more raised beds and thanks again to the generosity of Respond, the plans the group had discussed began to be realised and eight more beds were added.

Gleann na Bearu Community Garden
Potatoes grown by all, cooked by Frances and then shared by all in Gleann na Bearu Community Garden
Focus on Gleann na Bearu Community Garden
Just a few ton of woodchip to wheelbarrow through

The original lawn was sown in estate rubble and the landlord didn’t want the group to dig down so wood for the new raised beds was sourced from Griffiths the local saw mill, topsoil came from a farming friend of Frances and the wood chip from Tom Kane in neighbouring Goresbridge.

Unfortunately just after the topsoil was delivered it began to rain heavily for what seemed like weeks. The crumbly clay soil that had been dropped at the front of the building ready for the gardeners to wheelbarrow in through the side gate quickly turned into ridiculously heavy sludge that became almost impossible to move. However, everyone persevered, sometimes only moving a couple of wheelbarrows through, other times a morning’s worth and the new beds began to be filled, finally finishing just last week. Thankfully the woodchip was much easier to move!

Dee’s husband Ian was roped in to cut and build the raised beds and thanks to Catherine’s contacts, carpet offcuts were donated by the local carpet shop and various neighbours. These were cut and laid down to smother the grass and weeds before the woodchip was emptied on top of it.

Focus on Gleann na Bearu Community Garden During the Spring, Dee returned once more and she’s continued to advise and motivate us to do more in the garden. We’ve lots of plans.

The Youth Service are seeking funding to build a plastic bottle greenhouse which they’ll help the teenagers build using two litre drink bottles. We’re adding a tractor tyre pond and are hoping to build a green roof structure to cover the wheelie bins as well as add more tyre and pallet planters.

Focus on Gleann na Bearu Community Garden
May 2016

Catherine has entered the garden in the Pride of a Place competition and hopes that the gardeners will begin to grow plants for the front of the building and the surrounding estate. We’ll be planning a date for another garden party soon, only this year we’ll be inviting members of the new Carlow community garden network to join us as well as the local schools and tidy towns group.

Two new ladies Mary and Nicola have recently joined our group and more new faces are always welcome to join the regulars John, Susan, Siobhan, Esther, Dani, Frances, Catherine, John and Eamon.

Focus on Gleann na Bearu
Early June 2016

We meet every Wednesday from 10am until 12 noon and donate 50 cent towards the tea and biscuits though we might have to look at ways of making a few cent more for the garden so we can buy seeds and compost next year. We welcome newcomers so don’t be shy if you’re tempted to join us.

The garden is an important part of our lives, apart from learning about flowers and vegetables it’s a place of laughter and friendship and of course a sense of community as its name suggests.

If you’d like to follow our progress keep an eye out for our Facebook page.

In Focus: OURganic Gardens, Donegal

Spring is in the air at OURganic GardensSpring is in the air at OURganic Gardens!

The following article is from Joanne Butler of OURganic gardens. Joanne is a horticultural tutor who is working with seven community gardens in Donegal (yes 7!). Joanne is self-employed and works mostly through community groups and other organisations funded by the Education Training Board. OURganic Gardens was created as a central point of contact for all the Donegal community gardeners in 2013 and currently has over 150 gardeners that have attended courses and events in Donegal. Funding to help the gardens to date has been received through GIY and Local agenda 21.

Community Gardens Springing into life!

Things are starting to get busy at OURganic Gardens at home and in the community gardens. Since most of the community gardens don’t kick off until mid-March I’ve had to begin at home sowing seeds for seven groups! It’s an OCD’s nightmare to be honest but I’m still managing to get everything sown on time.

I find it much easier to get a head start on some veggies here at home where I can look after them carefully … or at least try! Organisation is key and keeping records is very important. This year, as with every year, I make a determined effort to stay on top of labels , dates and notes  (If I make it to April I’ll be doing well); but seriously having the notes to look back on and see what has and hasn’t worked is well worth the effort in the long run.

Creating a Network of Community Gardens

Spring is in the air at OURganic GardensOURganic Gardens is about to start its fourth year and while creating a network of community gardens in Donegal I have learnt so much, and not just about growing veggies.

Community gardening is about people. Bringing like-minded people together and seeing  the excitement that their first seedling brings, as well as the hope of the future it holds, is nearly as exciting as a load of well-rotted manure (I do say nearly mind).

Sometimes I get asked what’s the most important thing about starting a community garden and I have to say it’s the community. Yes,  you need a site,  insurance and all the legal stuff but once you have a group of people who want to make a garden a shared space open to all, as well as a difference in their community, then you’re well on your way. Trust me that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Thanks to Local Agenda 21, this year OURganic Gardens has secured a small bit funding for seeds, soil and spuds for all the community gardens and gardeners that take part in the courses throughout the year.

Spring is in the air at OURganic Gardens
Nothing beats a bit of local advertising to get the word out!

New Beginnings

I’ll shortly be facilitating seven community gardens for various community centers and projects, as well as my own on site garden here at home,  which I’m super excited about.

I asked a few local gardeners to set up a committee and to make sure everyone can see it’s all above-board, we’ve drawn up a lease agreement for the community garden for one Pea (yes, Pea) a year 😉

Lets hope we at least manage to get that much growing!

With a bit of deep digging we will have our insurance sorted in the coming weeks so will soon be good to go. Again, all we need is the people, which with a bit of word spreading and unadulterated advertising (which I cannot get funding for)  OURganic Garden’s hope is to entice gardeners of all ages and capabilities to take part this year.

Gardening courses about to start

So, with garden plans in back pocket, I’ll be off to my first six-week garden course which starts on Monday, 14th March in Dunfanaghy Resource Centre. After that I kick off in Falcarragh gardenTuesday 15th March at 9.30, Portanoo and Ardara on the 16th March, Gortahork (my own community garden) on the 7th April, Mountcharles on the 8th April and Ards walled garden project on the 9th April. It will be a busy few weeks but I hope the weather is kind to (all of) us and that we Spring happily into a glorious summer in the Donegal community gardens.

Spring is in the air at OURganic Gardens

Joanne is the Donegal Rep for the community garden network and can be contacted on 0861789971 or @OURganic on Twitter or OURganic Gardens in Facebook. Take a look at our map for locations of the community gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

If you’d like to share your community gardening story with our readers and help others with their community gardening plans and ideas, please get in touch. 

In Focus: Moy Hill Community Garden, County Clare

When you plant a tiny seed and cover it with earth, you never know just how big it will grow. The same thing happened to The Moy Hill Community Garden.

In Focus: Moy Hill Community GardensA couple of years ago, a kind man generously gave us a small patch of land just outside of Lahinch in County Clare. It was matted with brambles and rushes but with the help of a few friends and a hungry pig called Holly, we began to clear it bit by bit. It began to transform before our very eyes, people came and went, strangers became friends and soon it became a beautiful garden full of flowers, vegetables and the buzzing of bees.

In Focus: Moy Hill Community Garden, Clare

A wise man once told me ‘if you do good things, good things will happen’ and not a word could be truer in describing the success of The Moy Hill Community Garden.

Today the garden is owned by the community and is open to anyone and everyone. Whether it’s to plant a flower or simply sit on the bench and watch the world go by in Lahinch Bay, its open every day all year round. The garden’s roots have grown deep within the local community and this has not just happened by magic.

In Focus: Moy Hill Community Garden

During the garden’s first Summer we held weekly cook-ups open to all that wanted to come and share some fresh vegetables from the garden and meet up with other like-minded people. Last Summer we were blown away by how many people came to the cook ups, from grandsons to grandfathers, it was incredible to see how such a space could bring all different types of people together. We began to realise how important good food is and that it should be accessible and affordable for everyone, so now every Friday in the growing season we offer a variety of vegetables in the garden on a donation basis.

In Focus: Moy Hill Community Garden

It didn’t just stop at food though, the garden became a space for music where we held outdoor concerts in the amphitheater. It became a space for learning where we put on weekly kid’s activities up-cycling wellies and planting sunflowers. It became a space where anything is possible and this is what the garden has taught us.

 

So if you are ever passing through County Clare on the Wild Atlantic Way, stop into the garden, make yourself a cuppa and enjoy the view.

For more information on the garden and to sign up to our newsletter so we can keep you posted on any upcoming events visit www.growing.ie.

In Focus: Moy Hill Community Garden

In Focus: The Muck and Magic Community Garden

The Muck and Magic Community Garden, Ballymun, Dublin

In the middle of October 2015, a bunch of community gardeners from around Ireland and Northern Ireland met up in Ballymun for a Community Garden Network meeting. The network meetings are full day events and are usually broken up into different sections. Ballymun was no exception. We listened to a couple of interesting talks from Eoin Craven and Joanne Butler of Ourganicgardens.ie about seed saving, were introduced to Karen Mahon from Every Can Counts and were given a tour of the productive Virgin Mary and Muck and Magic Community Gardens in Ballymun.

Community Garden Network in BallymunJohn O’Donoghue helped to coordinate this event and is now sharing the story of Muck and Magic with us. John is a horticulturist who has been involved in community gardening in Dublin both on a professional and voluntary basis for the past six years. On a professional basis he is employed by the City of Dublin Education and Training Board as a Gardening Tutor in their Community Education Programme.  On a voluntary level John is involved with two local community gardens, namely The Muck and  Magic Community Garden and the Finglas Forest Garden.

Muck and Magic

Location

The Garden is located in a site in the Coultry area of Ballymun, adjacent to Domville House and the Glor Na Gael Community Garden.

Muck & Magic Community Garden, Ballymun, Dublin

History

The garden was started in 2011 by a small group of local volunteers involved in the then named Ballymun Gardening Club, together with the assistance of a GAP (Global Action Plan) funded Community Gardener.

As part of the Ballymun Regeneration Plan, GAP were employed to provide a range of environmental programmes in Ballymun. The site of the garden, owned by Dublin City Council, is leased to us under a licence agreement which is renewed annually.

Initially there was a vacated senior citizen housing complex on the site and we started modestly  in 2011 with a series of four raised beds for the growing of vegetables.

In 2013 the housing complex was demolished, which effectively tripled our growing space.  This allowed us to erect a 12 metre tunnel on the site and has allowed us to grow a wide range of vegetables.

In 2014 the garden was made wheelchair friendly with a series of surfaced paths. In addition a compost toilet, an outdoor classroom and a potting shed were erected, with the help of a project funded by Aer Lingus.

In Focus: Muck and Magic Community Garden, Ballymun, Dublin

The Muck and Magic Garden

Approximately half the site is covered with mature ornamental trees. The tunnel is used in spring for the propagation of early vegetable seedlings then later for growing protected plants such as tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, peppers and a wide range of salad crops. Outside we grow a wide range of vegetables using a four-year crop rotation system. Our fruit garden is quite small and we plan to develop it in the coming months.

In addition we have a series of ornamental beds.  We are planning to develop a sensory garden during the coming year.

Focus on: Muck and Magic Community Garden, Ballymun, Dublin
Harvesting Rainwater

We have an extensive composting site with a wormery and we are able to make good leaf mould from the leaves we gather in the Autumn.

Some rainwater harvesting takes place using structures in the garden and we plan to do more harvesting in the coming year.

Opening times

The Garden opens twice weekly throughout the year, namely Monday and Wednesday (mornings in winter and evenings in summer).

Volunteers

Our volunteers are from Ballymun and the surrounding area.  Among them are a group from a local day centre for adults with special needs. Another group that attended the garden were from a local drugs rehabilitation project.

Management

The volunteers meet on a monthly basis to make decisions on ongoing management issues and each year elect a committee.

Focus on Muck and Magic Community Garden in Ballymun, DublinAwards

Each year we enter the garden into the Dublin City Council Neighborhood Awards Competition and the local Tidy Towns Competition. In 2015 Dublin Council awarded us a trophy for our sustainability initiatives.

Opening Hours

Opening Hours of Muck and Magic
Monday 10.30 am to 1.00 pm
Wednesday 10.30 am to 1.00 pm

In addition Summer time Wednesdays, 6.30pm to 8.30pm

Contact

Ronnie McConnell 089 4031969
John O’Donoghue  086 8176666 email dunbrogarden@gmail.com

or find us on The Muck and Magic Facebook Page.

If you’d like to feature your community garden in Ireland or Northern Ireland on the Community Garden website we’d love to hear from you. Contact us for more information

If you’re interested we’re currently planning the next CGN get together for Belfast in March. Please sign up for the newsletter and keep alert of all the community garden events and focus posts.

Images: Courtesy of Miren Maialen

The History of East Clare Community Co-op & Garden

Food Traditions in Ireland

Ireland has long been recognised for its culture, the beauty of its landscapes and seascapes, the buzz if its cities, and the warmth of its people. Now visitors are coming for its food too.

As a healthy travel option, Ireland has a natural, honest approach to food that’s rooted in tradition and worth making the journey for. From its mild climate, clean seas, fertile soil and high rainfall we have some of the best raw local ingredients in the world. Wonderful wild food foraged from hedgerows and forests and greens picked that same day add to the vibrant freshness of the local food plate.

More and more menus are starting to reflect their surroundings as a new pride in local food culture is emerging and East Clare is no exception.

History of East Clare Community Co-op

East Clare Community Co-operative in County Clare has been in existence for 28 years. It has been the starting point for a number of educational, community, social and entrepreneurial activities and has a strong proven track record of being able to deliver useful and lasting change in the community.

One of these useful developments was Scariff Community Garden which began as a joint initiative of the Co-op and the local Brothers of Charity in 2000. The Co-op had secured a long-term lease on a property centrally situated on Main Street, Scariff with Garden at the rear.

History of East Clare Co-operative & Community GardenThe neighbouring Garden was donated for Community use and a third strip leased off a neighbour, so together the three gardens form Scariff Community Garden roughly a third of an acre with 2 poly tunnels, a Food Theatre Barn area with stage, a men’s shed with wood fired pizza oven inside, a hazel hut, a stone tiled poets circle area, stony steps made with local men on a Community Education course, a permaculture area, forest garden area, and several raised and flat beds with fruit, nuts and vegetables growing all year round.

Some of the developments were volunteer led and created and some have been a joint initiative of the paid staff and volunteers. Talking of staff, in 2007, Pobal funded a part time gardeners position under the Community Services Programme and this was key to securing consistent crops and the development of some kind of plan for the future.

The RSS scheme provided another part-time post in 2013 and with this full-time equivalent, new developments in the garden have been possible with pockets of funding, donations and plants and food sales from the Garden helping to resource the work.

The History of East Clare Community Co-opOver the years CLDC, the local Community development company have used the Garden as a place of learning as part of their horticultural courses and this has enabled some areas to be landscaped. But overall, the garden has evolved organically with the time, energy and vision of the people who have come and added their bit, whether weeding, laying paths, or mosaicing areas to beautify the space, so many hands, hearts and minds have contributed to the garden-saving seeds, singing songs, planting, digging, weeding, weaving, shaping the Garden’s future one action at a time…

Social and Educational

Our Community Garden is the hub of the community, drawing together people from all walks of life, breaking down barriers and allowing neighbours who would not normally meet to come together and share an interest in gardening and nature.

The History of East Clare Community Co-op & GardenFrom an educational point of view, the Community Garden can draw out people’s hidden gifts and talents. It can help to increase people’s awareness of the local environment, social activities that are available, the local wildlife, as well as bringing awareness of local enterprises and what they are contributing to the locality.

At ground level in the planting and management of crops, we all encounter similar problems, and discovering what works, what does not work and why, are some of the challenges that all gardens and gardeners face. With all these elements in mind it is easy to see the potential benefit of sharing experiences between different communities.

History of East Clare Co-operative & Community GardenWe have a vision to move Scariff Community Garden forward to enrich the already abundant produce of the garden with a wider variety of fruit, vegetables and ornamental plants, to nurture further our outreach into the community and to really celebrate the unique gifts and qualities that the garden has to offer all of us.

We are offering access to the skills pool we have here in County Clare through our own garden activities. This is an exciting time in the development of the Garden and the Community Co-op as a whole.

And we have a Café…

History of East Clare Co-operative & Community GardenOur beautiful garden meanders around vegetable beds, fruit trees and bushes and growing tunnels. You can talk to our gardeners while they work and join in with them if you feel like it. Then take yourself indoors to our Garden Café where we serve the best of vegetarian and raw food. Expertly prepared, served simply and fresh as can be is what East Clare Community Co-op’s Garden Café is all about.

Our food is grown on site so producing our own food in the backyard is as fresh and local as it gets. Local people are involved and we like to share our expertise and our food. It’s a simple place with no airs and graces. Also our Garden Café has the best of raw ingredients on site in the Community Garden but it’s the warm and welcoming people who turn this great Café into an experience that visitors will always remember.

All other food served in the Café that doesn’t come from the garden is locally sourced, such as our fresh spelt and gluten-free breads which are made in the next village. Five miles door to door. Tourists love it too, with Summer pop up bistros in the on-site Kitchen/Dining community facility( using garden and other local produce) providing a delicious and relaxing way to sample the food whilst viewing the garden.

Food Market

History of East Clare Co-operative & Community Garden

There’s the chance to meet our local producers on Fridays when we have our local small holders market. Stay and have a chat, there’s always time to talk. Why not ask and learn about their traditional methods of baking! People will be glad to share and it will come from the heart.

As a co-operative community we believe in these small local producers and this is what makes the whole experience personal. It’s these generations of artisan producers that turn this great natural larder around us into masterpieces and experiences that visitors will always remember. If you have a day without a plan, call to see us.

We like to think that we are open and accessible to everybody and that our environment can be a place to chill out and relax – we certainly love it!

Call In

Please call in and have a chat and learn more about our ongoing development. You can find more about our Community Co-operative and Garden and all the work we are doing in Scariff on our website as well as contact details and opening hours.

 

If you’d like to know more about community gardening in Ireland and how others operate their gardens, please subscribe to the blog and keep up with the in-focus posts over the coming months. If you’re running a community garden and would like to share news about your own project, please contact us and we’ll be pleased to help promote you.