Community Gardens Bill passes first stage in Dáil

Posted on: 08/11/2023
Strawberries from Top of the City Community Garden, Waterford City – photo by Justyna Traore

Justyna Traore, Committee Member of Community Gardens Ireland, has been instrumental in setting up new community growing spaces in Waterford City.

When speaking before about the impact Top of the City Community Garden has had in her local community in Waterford City, she said the following:

“You could see it during Covid, people found peace, it kept people sane.

The fact that we developed a wasteland into a community garden gives residents, even those not directly connected with the garden, hope for a change for the better. They see something that was not used, something that was full of rubbish, turned into a green organically, sustainably run space, where people can engage with each other, they can grow food, they can participate in various events, they can meet neighbours that they never met before in the street.

Community gardens are like seeds. The idea of a community garden extends the idea of growing, it’s not only about growing, it’s about socialising, it’s about finding the language of togetherness, developing something that serves everyone regardless of their background, regardless of their beliefs.”

These words were included in the discussions of the first stage of the Local Government (Community Gardens) Bill 2023 that was debated yesterday in the Dáil.

The Bill was introduced by Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD and has progressed past the first stage.

Community gardens are currently not mentioned in any law in Ireland and have no legal protection.

Thank you to all deputies for their support on this – there is still a long way to go, but this is a good first step for increased protection and provision in law is needed for community gardens.

Deputy Ó Cathasaigh included more detail of the Bill as detailed below:

“The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Local Government Act 2001 in order that local authorities must prepare and publish a community gardens policy, with each local authority laying out the conditions and criteria applying to the development, allocation and use of community gardens within its administrative area. The policy shall set out the measures taken to develop community gardens, having regard to the principles of universal design.

The community gardens policy must be updated at least once every three years. The Bill requires a local authority to make by-laws dealing with the letting and use of the community gardens. The Bill sets out that members of a local community can apply to their local authority to let and use a community garden.

The local authority will maintain a waiting list of applicants and offer an available community garden space within its administrative area to applicants, based on the criteria and conditions laid out in its community gardens policy. The Bill sets out that each local authority shall include in its annual report an assessment of progress in relation to its implementation of its community garden policy during the relevant year.”

Also as mentioned during the discussions, Community Gardens Ireland have been advocating for these changes to be put in place to improve protection and provision of allotments and community gardens for years, so we welcome the discussions on this and progression of the Bill to the next stage.

Further details are available on the Oireachtas website here:

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