Community Supported Agriculture – Cloughjordan Community Farm

Thomas Mc Donagh, poet, playwright, revolutionary, martyr for Irish freedom.  But that’s enough about me, there was this other guy by the same name who was born in 1878 in Cloughjordan Co. Tipperary and was executed by firing squad in Dublin in 1916 after the Easter Rebellion.  So there was a lot of questions being asked when I went along, with my host Pat Malone, to a night of Irish language, song and poetry Continue reading


Scariff Community Garden and Transition Town

If Community Gardens are about a vision for a more sustainable future based on local food production and strong, resilient communities, then Scariff is very

local artists helping to create an inspiring space at the garden

much in the process of implementing that vision.  The Community Garden there was set up five years ago with the help of my host in Scariff, Brendan.  The initial intention was to create a social space to help in the integration of people with special needs in the community and a place to grow food for locals in the town.  The core group involved in the garden at first has changed considerably over Continue reading

Southill Community Garden, Limerick

Barbera Mulcahy is the gardener in resident in the Southill Resource Centre in Limerick.  The centre was set up in Southill as part of the area regeneration project.  The community has recurring social problems and the centre, which was a real hive of activity on Friday afternoon when I arrived and seems to have become a local community hub,   is a big part of the local effort to reverse some of the negative trends of the past. 

Plan of the garden on canvas-so it doesn't get damaged by the elements

 The community garden is part of this effort to get local people to re-engage with their community in a positive manner. 

When Barbera arrived at the centre in March of this year there were three raised beds and the resource was slightly under-used. 

Barbera in the polytunnel

  A FETAC horticulture course had been run with external help but there seemed to a p Continue reading

Mayfield Community Arts Centre Garden

The Mandala of Community Gardens (see previous post on CorkSimon gardens) project in Cork city coincided with the renovation of the arts centre in Mayfield.  A grant was provided by a private donor to develop the garden in to a space for the community as part of the renovations.  Local people were asked to participate in the design of the garden and workshops were held to bring peoples’ ideas together.  Eimer and Claire, two external members of the Mandala project, brought groups and volunteers to Mayfield to work on the garden including a group from the permaculture course in Kinsale and gradually the garden took shape.

Individual projects were also developed around the garden such as a willow sculpture class and a cob oven Continue reading

Simon Community Gardens-Cork City

Of Nature
Human beings
are not different from Nature.
We are part of Nature.
Our very existence on earth
depends on Nature.
In truth, it is not we who
protect Nature but Nature
that protects us
In 2004 as part of the preparations for Cork city’s tenure as European capital of culture, a project was initiated to develop community gardens around the city.  My host in Cork, Eoin Mc Cuirc, was involved in what became known as the Cork Mandala of Community Continue reading

Haiti & Food Sovereignty

This year’s earthquake drew people’s attention to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  The damage caused by the quake was made worse by the desperate living conditions of the majority of poor Haitians, poor building standards and the concentration of people in shanty towns in the capital Port-au-Prince.  But what lay behind this lack of development and dire poverty?  What made so many Haitians move from the countryside to the city?  The Haitian case is a prime example of many of the issues facing developing countries and the threats to their food sovereignty.

Those issues include farmers being undercut Continue reading

Day 5: Ecstasy to agony and back again

I left Dunmore East at 8am yesterday.  Hector woke me up and helped me to loosen up the stiff body and overcome the icy backroads out of town.  This is what lay ahead.

140km of road to Cork city, by far the longest stage of the cycle yet and probably one of the longest that I’ll do overall.  I was averaging about 23km per hour so far so I knew it would take me the best part of the day.  I’d also been told that the scenery was great on the coast road between Dunmore and Dungarvin.  The weather was perfect for cycling, cold but really Continue reading

Dunmore East Community Garden – Operation Frutification

This has to be the most spectacularly located community garden in the country. Perched on a hillside overlooking the Irish sea in Dunmore East, with seagulls milling around overhead and the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks below, locations don’t get much better.

When I met Dave Curran at the Strand Hotel he was carrying a plastic bag full of seaweed that he’d just collected from the beach.  He reckons that if he collects a bag after each storm he’ll have the best spuds in town.  Dave is involved with both the community garden and GIY (see earlier post below) groups in Dunmore East and is a member of the GIY national committee.

As we walked through the town Dave pointed out a public park which runs along the seafront. The park, like the community garden and community hall, was left in trust to be used for the townspeople by the Malcomsons -a family of wealthy corn and cotton merchants.  Dave and the other GIY’ers have long-term hopes to develop the space in to a fruit and nut park. For him, “the community garden and the GIY groups are ways of showing what can be achieved by a few organised people meeting just once a week”.  This gradual awareness raising process very much jives with Dave’s broader views on the potential of food growing for driving change in the wider community.  He advocates a  step-by-step approach of people talking to each other about the benefits of the food growing projects.  He feels that winning people over slowly this way, as opposed to badgering them with aggressive recruitment drives, will bear more fruit in the long run.  Taking people on their own terms is also Continue reading

Goresbridge Community Garden

The garden in Gorsebridge is located in a Respond housing estate.  Respond is Ireland’s largest non-for-profit housing association.  They develop housing projects with a view to creating inclusive communities based on social Continue reading

Newpark Close Community Garden, Kilkenny

This prize-winning garden in Kilkenny is a cross community programme between the Newpark Close and Hebron Park housing estates, two disadvantaged parts of the city with a traditional rivalry.

It came about when the community committee in Newpark Close applied for funding under the RAPID program for a LTI (Local Training Initiative).  A group of local men, most of whom were long-term unemployed, applied to take part in a twenty week course in Vocational Employment Skills (Level 3 Major award) which included a horticulture module.  The city council agreed to give the course participants access to a piece of land on the edge of the estate in Newpark Close which had been used as a dumping ground in the past. The land was fenced off and the guys developed a community garden from scratch with the help of their horticulture teacher.

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The group was made up of ten guys from each of the Continue reading