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.
It 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.
The 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.
Through 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.
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.
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.