Why are some local authorities deleting allotments and community gardens from climate action plans?

Posted on: 16/12/2023

Community Gardens Ireland are a voluntary, independent, inclusive group that works with all agencies and groups that promote environmental awareness and support community gardening and food growing in all parts of the island of Ireland.

In recent years we have been heavily advocating for an improvement in legislation and policies for allotments and community gardens. In 2021 and 2022, we presented to Oireachtas Committees and highlighted our Let’s Get Growing report which contained a number of recommendations for the Irish Government to improve legislation, set targets, and provide more protection and provision of allotments and community gardens in Ireland.

We have made detailed submissions to the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss which led to the following to be included in the final report

51. The State must ensure the expansion of community gardens and allotments through local authority initiatives in conjunction with private landowners, in both urban and rural communities.  

In April 2023, the Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss also recommended the following

28 Encourage people to grow more vegetables for themselves 

35 Make more green spaces in cities and urban areas

Community Gardens Ireland also made detailed submissions to the National Horticulture Strategy review processes, which led to the following action for Bord Bia contained with the National Horticulture Strategy 2023-2027:

Work with local authorities to implement and support community gardens and allotments to encourage enthusiasm for gardening / growing and promote fresh produce consumption and healthy eating

In July 2023, Community Gardens Ireland made a submission to the national Climate Action Plan (Expert Evidence) calling for a number of changes, including for every climate action plan to include community growing as an action to be performed and for an increase in allotments & community gardens for each local authority.

So despite this, why are some local authorities deleting actions on allotments and community gardens?

Let’s start with Dublin City Council. In their 2019-2024 Climate Action Plan, they said they would:

N34 Assess feasibility of additional green space for local food production, including community gardens and urban orchards

N36 Identify sites suitable for community gardens for local food production

Yet the 2024-2029 Dublin City Council Climate Action Plan deletes all actions related to allotments or community gardens.

Cork City is similar. In their 2019-2024 Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, they committed to:

Identify locations to create new habitats for native flora and fauna e.g. urban orchards,
allotments, green roofs and walls, which will assist in negating the ‘heat island effect’.

Work with communities to enable them to develop an appreciation of natural resource
protection, thus highlighting the link with climate change e.g. Green Spaces for Health and
Community Gardens.

The 2024-2029 Cork City Climate Action Plan mentions the benefits of community gardens – but no actions related to allotments or community gardens.

South Dublin County Council also had excellent details in their 2019-2024 Climate Action Plan on community growing spaces:

The allotments benefit communities in SDCC by providing a source of affordable food and an opportunity for people to socialise. There are co-benefits for climate change adaptation, as these allotments absorb water that would otherwise run off into the drainage network.

N26 Maintain and expand community gardens and allotments for local food production

But despite committing to maintain and expand community gardens and allotments for local food production, South Dublin County Council then deleted all mention of allotments or community gardens from their 2024-2029 plan.

Kilkenny County Council also had in their 2019-2024 Climate Adaptation Plan the following wording:

Green Infrastructure is designed and managed to provide and facilitate the following:
Local food production in allotments, gardens and through agriculture

But again, their 2024-2029 Climate Action Plan has no actions for allotments or community gardens.

It is worth clarifying that not all local authorities have done this – some local authorities included wording for their climate action plans, where no wording was present in previous climate adaptation strategies. But the concern we have is that local authorities in largely urban areas appear to be moving away from acknowledging communities growing food as a climate action in their plans.

This is unacceptable from Community Gardens Ireland’s point of view. It is also why we have made submissions to 30 out of the 31 local authority climate action plans consultations since October 2023 (Limerick City & County Council are yet to issue their plan). Given that there is poor protection for allotments in law (and none for community gardens), having as detailed policies for local authorities as possible is critical.

So what happens now? Local Councillors will get to sign off on the climate action plans in the coming weeks. Check out your local authority’s website for contact details for your local councillors. For climate action plans that are still open, please make a submission.

And this is where we need your help – please get in contact with all your local councillors and ask them to support the inclusion of actions for allotments and community gardens in your local climate action plans.

For any questions on this, email us at info@cgireland.org

Posted by Dónal McCormack – Chairperson of Community Gardens Ireland, 16/12/23

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