independent

Friday 22 August 2014

Volunteers being sought to take part in allotment open day

Published 16/10/2012 | 11:09

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VOLUNTEERS ARE being sought to take part in an allotment open day which is taking place in Balbriggan this weekend.

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The Balbriggan Allotment Association (BAA) is seeking people to come along on Saturday where they can sign up for an allotment and groups of friends or neighbours can register for adjacent allotments. BAA secured funding from Fingal Rural LEADER Programme for the development of the allotment scheme in Balbriggan which is conditional on a volunteer time contribution of 500 hours in the development of the scheme.

Works on the allotment scheme, located at the junction of Knocknagin Lane and the old N1 just north of Balbriggan, began during August 2012, and the scheme is almost complete, with some small jobs such as installing the boundary fencing between the allotments, building the demonstration allotment, painting the main gate and finishing the pig rearing area remaining. It's hoped that these works will be finished at the Open Day.

Once the scheme is completed, the allotments will be allocated immediately and holders can start preparing for winter sowing. Caitriona Redmond, well-known food blogger and member of the Balbriggan Allotment Association said: 'There are so many reasons why now is such a good time to sign up for an allotment - locally grown seasonal food, sustainable living, re-learning traditional farming and cooking skills not to mention the economic and employment situation many people and families now find themselves in.

'Allotment holders are a sociable bunch, willing to help other holders, pass on tips and teach skills so there's also a good social element to it. We're really looking forward to the first harvest of BAA honey-glazed ham and can't wait to get started on this really exciting opportunity.' Volunteers who come along on Saturday between 10am and 3pm can offset their hours hard work against the 2013 allotment fee (5% discount for every hour worked to a maximum of 25%). The cost of the allotments varies according to size (50sqm - €50, 100 sqm - €100 and 200 sqm - €200), so a volunteer who puts in 5 hours on Saturday 20th October could pay just €37.50 for a 50sqm allotment for 2013.

Check out Balbriggan Allotments on Facebook for direction to the site, and information on the scheme www.facebook.com/BalbrigganAllotments

The BAA is one of the few schemes to offer a communal pig-rearing scheme. Volunteers share responsibility for feeding and maintaining the animals, which when fully grown will be sent for slaughter, with the participating allotment holders availing of the meat. The concept of a 'pig club' is not new, and was often a thrifty way for a community to add to their food production with all households contributing scraps and feed for the animals, and the recent BBC 2 television series 'Wartime Farm' featured such a 'pig club'. There is a strong educational element at the allotment scheme, with an emphasis on teaching ( particularly children) where food comes from and how it is farmed/raised, contributing to an understanding of the principles of a healthy diet. Bee-keeping is also available at the scheme.

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