Global Green at Electric Picnic – A Newbie’s Perspective

Global Green in Electric Picnic 2016 - A Newbie's PerspectiveElectric Picnic – Early Years

I have fond (and seemingly now increasingly distant!) memories of Electric Picnic Music and Arts Festival – having attended the first four iterations of this mammoth event – well, mammoth by Irish standards, anyway!

Those days were wild and hedonistic; a blur of amazing performances, making instant friendships with random people, and getting blissfully lost among crowds, stumbling across amazing stalls and tents containing fabulous displays of talent, art, music and joy.

Several Years Later…

Fast-forward an undisclosed number of years and it was by happy chance that back in May of this year, my friend and Donegal Community Garden Network colleague and co-coordinator Joanne Butler asked me if I would come along to volunteer and help get the community garden in Global Green, representing Community Gardens Ireland and meeting other CG Ireland members from around the country.

Global Green in Electric Picnic 2016 - A Newbie's Perspective
Some of the lovely CGI Team having a meeting over tea!

I have just this Spring returned to my native Co. Donegal and only recently become involved with Community Gardening – putting my burgeoning abilities into growing food and connecting with people in my local area in a communal space promoting curiosity, health, happiness and general wellbeing. So I was only too delighted to get the opportunity to get involved a bit more!

In the interests of full-disclosure – in the decade I’d been living away in England, and in the number of years since I had attended Electric Picnic; when I was asked I wasn’t 100% sure what “Global Green” was, or what we would be doing. A quick search online gave me enough information to feel excited about heading there and getting stuck-in, and I packed up a tent and some essentials when the time came and made the drive down to Stradbally with a positive mindset and full of wonder about what the next few days had in store.

Global Green at Electric Picnic

I feel I am doing a disservice to adjectives when I say simply that was pretty awestruck upon arrival at the Global Green Arena! Everywhere around me were teams of volunteers beavering away to create and curate this amazing space – brilliantly weaving colour, texture, Nature, fun, art, curiosity and energy into this playground of an alternative festival space.

Global Green in Electric Picnic 2016 - A Newbie's Perspective
A quick tea-break whilst setting-up!

I observed how deftly utilising some of the permaculture principles such as “Apply Self-Regulation And Accept Feedback” / “Observe and interact” / “Use And Value Renewable Resources And Services” / “Use And Value Diversity” to name but a few, all resulted in a mesmerising culmination of creativity.

I met some of the other lovely members of CGI who were so welcoming, kind and down-to-earth (pun most definitely intended!) and we quickly got to work sorting through what had been collected to create the Community Garden area.

Plants, recycled and upcycled pallet and salvaged wood garden furniture, fruit, vegetables, found-object assemblage sculptures, examples of traditional Thatched roofing and much, much more was melded together and the results were great!

Global Green in Electric Picnic 2016 - A Newbie's Perspective
Straw Bale Staircase up to a Little Thatched Den – Check out those Recycled Drink-Can Buttons!

The team coming together to collaborate, plan and problem-solve felt warm and jovial – when a hurdle was presented, a series of group suggestions were posed, working together to keep the ball rolling and we ended-up with a beautiful space ready for the public who were due to arrive on-site. I particularly enjoyed mucking-in on fashioning stakes to hold potted plants to straw bales and helping build a set of straw bale stairs with handrails and recycled-can buttons holding hessian sacks in place.

We were situated directly opposite the carnival area complete with waltzers, roller coaster and an olde-worlde carousel; which while slightly bombarding the Global Green space with a loud playlist of the same ten repeated songs – also certainly added to the fun, feel-good, playground sense that we’d created in the garden.

Global Green in Electric Picnic 2016 - A Newbie's Perspective
Weaving Stories, Experiences, Ideas and Friendship with the East Clare Co-Op

Our CG Ireland stand itself was in a shared space with the East Clare Co-Op; who had a weaving loom set up for willing participants to have-a-go. I was *obviously* one of those delighted participants, eager to revisit my youth and help create a woven-rag seat cushion (which the lovely Sam let me keep as I was so proud of it! Thanks Sam!) It was such a pleasure to chat to fellow volunteers and the public alike – answering questions, pointing people in the direction of what was happening, be it either a great talk at the Convergence Tent, to where they could make their own flower crown or where they could find a great gig or discussion at the Village Hall.

Global Green in Electric Picnic 2016 - A Newbie's Perspective
The Community Garden – Vibrant, Playful, Encouraging and Fun!

It was such a joy to get chatting to people throughout the festival; speaking, too to “punters” out in other areas of the festival about what we were doing over in Global Green – and even more of a joy to see them call by the following morning, curious to see what was going on.

Global Green in Electric Picnic 2016 - A Newbie's Perspective
Seats Made From Pallets, Straw Bales, and other Recycled Items all Surrounding a Found Object Installation by Ian Sewell

While time had passed since my previous festival attendance, and no longer was it quite as racked with those tinges of hedonism it was a decade or-so ago; it was the most fulfilling and smile-inducing thing to realise that the natures of “Festivalling” and Community Gardening are beautifully and inextricably linked. Both are shared spaces promoting creativity, new experiences and connecting with each other.

Global Green in Electric Picnic 2016 - A Newbie's PerspectiveBoth are welcoming, inclusive and participatory, and both are accessible, educational and best of all FUN!

It was an immense pleasure to have the opportunity to volunteer here with CGI in this awesome space, with such equally awesome folks; and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!

“…it was the most fulfilling and smile-inducing thing to realise that the natures of “Festivalling” and Community Gardening are beautifully and inextricably linked. Both are shared spaces promoting creativity, new experiences and connecting with each other.”

The Author

Thanks to Sarah Kernan for writing this article. Sarah currently volunteers at the Pobail le Chéile Community Garden in Falcarragh, Co. Donegal, and is part of the new Donegal Community Garden Network. If you’ve enjoyed Sarah’s writing you can read more about her life in Donegal, as well as a magpie collection of life’s ephemera, musings and creatings on her blog Thirty Birds & Design.

If you’ve enjoyed the images from Sarah of our little garden in Global Green, here’s a few more from Dee Sewell of Greenside Up, coordinator of the pop-up community garden:

and more images from Davie Philip of Cultivate Living & Learning, coordinators of Global Green at Electric Picnic


Hope to see you next year!


Reflections: Electric Picnic 2015

The Community Garden Network volunteered to help coordinate a pop-up Community & Farm Garden in Global Green at the 2015 Electric Picnic. While we were there we met some inspirational groups and community gardeners from around the island who are now much more aware of the Network and each other.

Dee Sewell of Greenside Up posted a blog about the set up and groups involved, asking the question “Was the Electric Picnic Ready for a Community Garden?” which you can find here. However, the following are some lovely reflections from Fionnuala of East Clare Co-op of her experience there. We hope you enjoy Fionnuala’s poem.

East Clare Co-op at Electric Picnic
Photo Credit: East Clare Co-op

Our Co-op in the Electric Picnic in 2015

Co-creating collaborating in Global Green

We took a look about before setting our stall

(Well in fairness our stall was no stall at all)

We planned 2 round tables out there in the air

For our own eclectic picnic back home in Clare

Off we went with a curious glee

You won’t believe the sights we did see

a huge gold rimmed mirror, a bed in a tree

A stilted man in a skirt and acrobats 3

A big London bus,  a caravan in the air

A machine to de-programme you, tattoos for your hair

Make a wish, Gerry Fish, Giant’s Jug and Chair,

Attention to details, signs of great care

Body paint, tophats,  Oxfam vintage sale

2 men holding hands- at least I think they were male.

In every direction were sights to be seen,

creative, engaging, clever and green.

We were mosaicing all day near big bales of hay

In a beautiful garden that was made in a day

A garden with seedlings, food baskets and knitting

Pallet planters, benches- all perfectly fitting

With its own water feature and exciting bike races

Away from the chaos, a pleasant oasis

A man made of waste, a bomb made of seeds

Surfboards and knitting, without any weeds

Urban and rural we made it all flow

How did we do it? I’ll never know

Duncan Stewart arrived  in no great haste

Resilience, car sharing, giving out about  waste

We must work it together, climate change is here

The crisis, now bad will worsen we fear

I see the boy who lost his life in the sea

A victim, an innocent refugee,

And tears start swelling up in me

We are drowning in a sea of apathy

I want to shout out above this crowd

Wake up! Wake up! Do the Earth proud

Get involved, get connected, share the wisdom inside

Love your community with energy and pride!

The All Ireland final!  We caught the end in a tent

Up Galway we shouted, but those hurlers were spent

The cats got their cream again Ah no surprise there

Not like 13 when we took Liam to Clare

Seorla  from  Sligo with 3 kinds of dancers,

Step, set and seanos – those light footed prancers!

And married men on the tear raving wild on the shots

And Curious faces belonging to tots

We are tiling to beats with a buzz and a boom

And a woman nearby sweeps up with her broom

We took a stroll out in the chilly night air

And feel the vibrations and the wind in our hair

Big wheels, a circus, and architects boxes

A woman with an udder, and  big furry foxes

And a beach down in trenchtown past the big sailing boat

And a hula hoop whirling round some ladies throat

A  gentle black giant nearly 2 metres tall

A chick in a poncho, 2 lads in a brawl

Body and Soul ah we had to see that

Everyone says that’s where It’s at

grass roofs tiny tea, a flirt in a yurt

And man on a fence in a big flowery skirt

A warm fire to sit by and look up at the stars

And wonder of planets like Venus and Mars

And the night amphitheater to dance with the wind

And terrible toilets that look like they’ve sinned

Good Grub, Hot Tub and trees that looked weird

And plenty a young fella wearing a beard

And back to the main drag where anything goes

Bamboozled by choice and led by my nose

Salty dog cottage bog Imagination abound

With a sea of messiness all over the ground

From Clare to Calais, foraging the waste

To house some homeless in another place

What is the time? It is asked of me

Back home to reality

“It’s 10 past debauchery”

A reflection about Electric Picnic 2015
Photo Credit: East Clare Co-op

You can find more about East Clare Community Co-operative Society and all the work they’re doing over in Scariff on their website.

If you’d like to know more about community gardening and how they’re run, subscribe to the blog and we’ll be adding some In-focus posts over the coming months.