Community Gardens Ireland – Let’s Get Ireland GrowingPosted on: 24/02/2022
Community Gardens Ireland is a network of community gardens and allotments on the island of Ireland. In existence since 2011, it aims to support and promote community gardening in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Internationally, the evidence-based benefits of community gardens are many, from the proven physical, mental health and well-being benefits to educational, environmental, cultural and social gains. There is evidence that they hugely increase social capital by encouraging active citizenship and social connection, help reduce health inequalities, and contribute to reducing anti-social behaviour, thus making communities safer.
Despite the proven benefits, existing legislation and commitment in the form of the current Programme for Government, there is no country-wide policy in place to increase the number of allotments and community gardens. The existing legislation also provides little protection for communities. There is currently no clear duty put on local authorities to provide community growing space. Older legislation (1926 & 1934 Acquisition of Land (Allotments) Acts) were repealed in 1994 but in recent years they have been referenced by government departments, local authorities and others.
In urban areas the amount of land available for allotments and community gardens will become increasingly scarce unless this is address by Government. Community Gardens Ireland’s own recent survey of its members highlighted that the majority of community gardens surveyed had temporary licences which can have large implications for funding purposes, and some were on temporary sites zoned for housing.
Compared to other countries, Ireland lags behind in the provision, support and protection of allotments and community gardens. Both Scotland and Wales have recently required that any change of use of allotments and community gardens be approved by a Scottish Government Minister or Welsh Government Minister before proceeding.
This submission therefore calls on the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage to provide support for community growing groups by reviewing the following recommendations for implementation: