Attention all community gardeners.....would you be interested in finding each other? Swapping ideas and information? If so then please read on.
Anybody who's read my report on the Goresbridge Community Garden in Kilkenny will have realised how much I enjoyed the project.
It didn't seem to matter how you were feeling on a Wednesday morning or what mood everybody was in, after just a few minutes, smiles appeared and the sharing and learning began.
The garden was the first community garden I've worked with from start to finish, and towards the end we incorporated a Fetac Level 3 Horticulture course into it, giving five out of the regular ten gardeners who opted to do the course, a chance to get a qualification too.
As I was working with the Group I often wondered how other community gardens functioned. My mind was full of questions: how many are out there, how many gardeners do they have, is anybody invited to join in, how many hours do they meet, who does the watering, how do they fund it ????? and so the list went on ....
Recently I contacted Hans at the Organic Centre The Organic Centre in Leitrim and he wasn't aware of any national groups or organisations for community gardeners, and the .org web page that claims to be for Irish Community Gardeners appears to be full of ads.
Thomas is at the start of a fundraising cycle around Ireland in a bid to raise enough cash for a trip to Columbia next year (please support him if you can, and look out for him too!). He's interested in Food Sovereignty (Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems) and Thomas' blog page is really worth following. One of the scary points he quotes, and one that I wasn't aware of is "Ireland is increasingly dependant on imported food, to the point that in the case of an oil shock, the country would “probably not even have food supply for a week”. (Irish Independent 26-07-08)."
Thomas will be visiting food projects and community gardens around the country and writing about them and his travels on the blog. His volunteer work in Colombia will include learning more about their perspectives on food sovereignty and developing links between our countries.
So brilliant! At last a link to other people who are concerned about our over-dependence on shop bought or imported food, and also to those interested in communities getting together and growing their own food.
Now what? Well I'd like to find out who they are and how and where they grow their food. I'd love to meet up with them at some stage too.... whether I visit as many community gardens as I can over the coming weeks and months, or whether we can arrange some kind of get together, I'm not sure. The first thing, I guess, is to find each other and maybe swop links, contacts and web pages.
In the meantime I've set up an Irish Community Gardens Facebook Page as a way of trying to find some of you. If anybody reading this is involved in community gardening (in Ireland or elsewhere in the world I'd love to hear from you), either leave a comment, email me or find the Facebook page.
We make a difference on our own. Imagine what we could do together.