Even though I’d visited the community farm and Ecovillage in Cloughjordan (see previous post) on the morning I was leaving for Gort, I still thought that I had plenty of time to make it there before dark. But it turned out that I’d completely misjudged the distance and when I got to Portumna, where the Shannon meets Lough Derg, and thought I was over half-way there, I’d only covered about one-third of the distance. By this stage evening was falling and the weather was deteriorating; I pulled in for a quick cuppa in a town called Abbey and by the time I left the rain had started and it was getting darker. I then took a wrong turn and only realised ten minutes down the road to Loughrea that I had to double back. The weather got worse and worse and after half an hour I was cycling in the pitch dark in driving rain and a strong cross wind. And I was still 25km from Gort. I was in touch with Nick, my host in Gort, for directions but I was still determined to make it there myself. After another 20 minutes of wind and rain, I started to feel an old ankle injury flare up and this was the last straw, I had to call for a bail-out! Nick was kind enough to drive from Gort and rescue me and my soaken gear on the side of the road.
I didn’t feel to bad about being rescued. Persisting would have aggravated the ankle injury for one and maybe jeopardized the rest of the cycle; and I’d already spent two days cycling around Lough Derg up to Scarrif and over to Cloughjordan and back, so I’d well covered the area.
I then took a rest day in Gort and visited the community garden there on Thursday with Nick’s partner, Marta and a local co-op member, Pat.
The community garden in Gort is small compared to many of the ones I’ve visited so far.
The guys from the Gort co-op who have set up that garden had their eyes on a much larger site outside the town, but the farmer who owned the land pulled out of the project at the last minute.
The current garden is located beside the Garden Centre in Gort. The space was provided by the indoor food market which is located on the same site as the town’s garden centre. Food and craft markets are held regularly at the venue.
When I visited on Thursday Marta and Pat were putting up a new sign at the garden. They told me that green manure had been spread in the raised beds and that progress was slow but steady.
There is a plan to build a memorial garden for Betty Cariño. Betty was a Mexican human rights activist, she was murdered on April 27th 2010 while bringing humanitarian aid to the besieged indigenous community of San Juan Copala in Oaxaca. Betty visited Ireland twice over the last few years and became friends with many people in LASC. A lovely idea by the guys in Gort and fitting tribute to a brave and tireless activist
The garden is one of three projects that the Gort Co-op has established, the other two being a monthly film screening/community gathering, which is proving popular; and a food box distribution system: essentially their own local CSA (see previous post). At first, several local growers were involved and all of their produce was brought to a central distribution point where boxes were filled with each family’s order and left for collection. The system has since changed and one of the growers, a local bio-dynamic farmer, now coordinates the boxes for all members. Marta and Pat assured me that the veg from the biodynamic farm is second to none and that the members are very pleased with the quality.
In addition there are long-term plans to create a space where local growers can bring their excess produce to barter with other growers or to sell to the community.
There are lots of positive things happening in Gort -including a nascent Transition Town movement- and, as in Scarrif, a critical mas of people with ideas on sustainability that they are willing to implement is definitely emerging. And my hosts, Nick and Marta, and their lovely family seem to be at the heart of most of it.
Thanks a million guys for all your help! Un abrazo.