Karen went to visit each of our finalists and their wonderful community gardens. Take a look at what each garden and community has to offer and you can decide who you think is the most deserving of the grand prize.
The Breffni Mens Gardening & Social Club in Leitrim
This community group is for men of all ages & from all ethnic, social, cultural & economic backgrounds & is part of the Breffni Family Resource Centre. They enjoy a varied, accessible programme & learn about gardening in a friendly environment for them to socialise and grow their own friendships. The Breffni Men's Gardening & Social Club helps to maintain their garden facilities which comprise of the centre’s community allotment, poly-tunnel and Hope Orchard. It promotes inclusivity amongst men of all ages & from all ethnic, social, cultural & economic backgrounds. For members living in rural areas, attending the group reduces their sense of social isolation. Working outdoors has improved members physical & mental health. For older members, the work also helps improves their motor skills, mobility & flexibility. The gardens are enjoyed recreationally by service users including pre-school children, youth group and residents.
The Growery Birr GIY Group in Offaly
The Growery is a social third space in the context of food health sustainability regeneration and wellbeing. They run a variety of partnership-projects with local, national, and non-national organisations, while affording the community of Birr a social amenity that promotes education, relaxation, wellbeing, and climate resilience. Today they are putting the final touches to our 2019 training program including teaching slots from Charles Dowding, Jim Cronin, Hannah Mole and Javier Yanez. The whole community benefits on an organisational and individual level. They are in planning with the Girls School on a permaculture garden, they welcome members of the Community Mental Health Centre weekly, the Municipal District engage via work placements and site-specific project consultation, school groups visit, they established another garden in the adjacent village, and raised funds for the Tidy Towns polytunnel to grow flowers etc.
Zero Waste Community Garden in Kildare
At Zero Waste Community Gardens they are dedicated to growing fruit and vegetables in a sustainable and organic way for our gardeners and the residents of our community. They buy all their heritage and organic seeds from Irish Seed Savers. They currently have 13 gardeners with vegetable plots, a heritage orchard and 18 other fruit trees. They grow all year round with the aid of their polytunnel. Their project has a massive positive impact in their community by helping to reduce their carbon footprint, reduce family’s expenditure on food and encourage a healthier lifestyle.
They have created a space for people of all ages, nationalities and abilities to mix and grow healthy food. This has helped bring their community closer together. They also help protect wildlife by making bird boxes, bat boxes and bug hotels. They plan on spending the grant on a solar power system, lighting and heated beds for seedlings and a storage container for their equipment. This will greatly help their growing power, help to further reduce their carbon footprint and the food budget of the families in their community. It'll make help make them more self-reliant and they hope it will help encourage more members of their community to start growing.