In Focus: OURganic Gardens, DonegalPosted on: 11/03/2016
Spring 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
OURganic 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.
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.
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.