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!


Press Release – CGN Announces Name Change

The Community Garden Network becomes Community Gardens Ireland

Dee Sewell, Chairperson of the Community Garden Network announced at a recent garden party in the Arus na Uachtaráinna that was held to acknowledge individuals and organisations working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, that the organisation would officially be undergoing a name change to Community Gardens Ireland, abbreviated to CG Ireland with effect from 1st July 2016.

Dee explained that the new name better reflects the evolving focus of the organisation and its future direction and the chosen name was the most popular of several suggested, publicly shared for consideration and agreed among the team members.

“We are very excited about the name change and the direction our voluntary organisation is now heading. It has helped us focus on our national identity and the growing popularity of social community gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland. As a result the coordinating team has spent the last few months working on our strategic framework which we are also happy to unveil on the Welcome page of our website.

Our vision is that social community garden spaces are created in every village, town and city in Ireland and Northern Ireland, creating opportunities to empower local communities and provide outdoor environmental places of education where people of all ages, genders, nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds can learn about gardening, food growing and sovereignty, the environment, biodiversity, climate change, sustainability, community resilience, as well as about the positive mental implications and physical health benefits of being outside in nature and being sociable around food.

Our mission is to work with all other government and non-government agencies across the island supporting and establishing community gardens, individually and jointly promoting nature and the environment, sustainability, food education and food health as well as the social benefits of community gardening to encourage positive social change and inclusion in all its forms.

We recognise that community gardens have a valuable part to play in helping communities across Ireland learn about food, nature and the environment. CG Ireland will therefore:

  • actively collaborate with other organisations to encourage positive social change;
  • advocate inclusion in all its forms as well as environmental, food, health and dietary awareness;
  • encourage all members of community gardens to follow organic principles and protect biodiversity, promoting good environmental practice and awareness.”

About Community Gardens Ireland

CG Ireland was created in the Autumn of 2010 as community gardens began to grow in popularity and it became apparent that there was a need for an independent national organisation that links and shares knowledge and information collected by all individuals, groups and agencies across the island.

Apart from the online support offered connecting gardens via a forum and website, newsletters and social media, get together and workshops are held in different towns and village two or three times a year where all community gardeners from across the island are invited and welcome. Community Gardeners have so far met in thirteen locations, from as far afield as Derry and Belfast, Galway, Cork, Dublin, Waterford and Leitrim and apart from the benefits of community gardeners meeting and networking, community gardeners and facilitators have learnt about topics from conflict management to seeds and seed saving.

CG Ireland have identified and begun mapping over 140 public community gardens in Ireland and are encouraging the creation of county community garden networks that will link in to CG Ireland, allowing them to offer a lot more support to them as funding allows.

CG Ireland have presented two postcard gardens at Bloom Garden and Food Festival and coordinated a pop-up community garden in Global Green at 2015 Electric Picnic. They are currently coordinating and designing another pop up garden for this year’s music and arts festival.

CG Ireland will be holding an AGM at Carraig Dulra in Wicklow on Sunday, 2nd October 2016 and workshops on Saturday, 1st October 2016. Sign up for the newsletter for more information.