St. Brigid's Community Garden

In episode 3 of GROW COOK EAT Karen visited the growing-powerhouse Caroline Jolley at St. Brigid's Community Garden to find out how Growing2Gether works...

The mission of St. Brigid's Community Garden is inspiring and powerful 

  • To provide an area where members can relax and meet up with other members of the community on a regular basis.
  • To provide ‘green’ areas for growing fruit and vegetables to those who do not have any gardens.
  • To foster an interest among young people in their environment.
  • To provide a wildlife area for the introduction of new flora and fauna for research and environmental enrichment.
  • To promote interaction between the elderly and the young

The amenities that St Brigid's has are really incredible, an allotment of veg beds, a polytunnel, chickens, pigs, goats and a wildlife area with a pond. None of this came quickly or easily, as we heard Caroline explain to Karen in GROW COOK EAT.

Starting out in 2009, with an investment of her own money, the garden has grown in size, scale and ambition incrementally.

Bringing in the children from St. Brigid’s school to learn and work in the garden initially, then their family members started pitching in and now the entire community is involved.

St Brigid’s embodies everything positive about growing, it’s inclusive and relaxed, there are few rules and no exams. The resourcefulness of the volunteers who work there is also pretty inspiring. Funding is a constant hurdle for every community gardens. The St. Brigid’s crew have become adept at upcycling and recycling, as well as sourcing skills, labour and materials from the local community.

Grants and awards are sporadic and patchy depending on location but contacting your local authority is the best place to start if you need funding for a community garden project.

The educational aspect of St. Brigid’s is probably its biggest selling point. The students who learn to grow food, take care of animals, gather eggs and preserve biodiversity do so in a hands-on practical way. They learn practical life skills that benefit themselves, their families, their communities and will continue to do so for their whole lives.  None of this is on the school curriculum. None of it is recognised by the department of education or any other state body, and yet the advantages of this kind of education is obvious. The holistic and supportive effect on the students is really important; the garden doesn’t care how good you are in school, how well you know your tables or grammar or Irish vocab.

What do you think? Should food growing, environmental preservation and basic animal care be part of learning for every child? Or just the ones fortunate enough to go to a school like St. Brigid’s? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter