A NEW appreciation of bountiful Mother Nature is taking root in town thanks to a group of gardeners who have just transformed the Feale Drive Community House into a stunning market garden.
As we reach the height of the summer, the garden there is bursting with juicy pods, overflowing with tendrils and generally whetting the appetites of pretty much every passer-by.
They're all deeply impressed with the work of this gardening group. Over the course of the last five months, the group were brought to a new understanding of vegetable growing by tutor Kathleen Barrett of Valley View Heights Garden Centre in Athea - part of a Fetac Horticulture Production Course run in conjunction with Listowel Family Resource Centre under co-ordinator Bridie Mulvihill.
"It was just fantastic and the group was great craic, a great way to make new friends apart from anything else!" participant Denise Moran said. "We learned how to read soil levels, what materials, equipment and tools we needed to grow vegetables, how to thin, transplant, treat diseases and pests and how to prepare the ground for planting!"
"It's become an addiction now for a lot of us and we're growing our own at home too, even swapping veg regularly with people."
Feale Drive residents are now welcome to help themselves to the vegetables in the garden in a lovely boon for the local community. It is also being hailed as a certain major boon to the town's chances in this year's Tidy Towns as it has brightened up its corner of Listowel no end.
Maureen Lynch learned so much, she said. "I knew a little bit, but not much coming into the course but I learned so much since February. I've very definitely got green fingers now and I'm looking forward to lifting potatoes I'm growing at home very shortly. It will hopefully help the table!"
Maureen and Denise said that tutor Kathleen made a huge difference, sparking a love for horticulture among students in no time.
It would appear to have been mutual. "They are a lovely group of people and it was a joy to help them along. It was funny in that they started off with more interest in planting cosmetic displays like windowboxes but very shortly their interest was captured completely by vegetables. They were quick to learn and we went through everything from rotating crops to planting beds.
"It's great now too that they are all growing veg at home and sharing it with friends as part of the course required them to do 60 hours' work at home," Kathleen explained. All now hope that the course will receive at least a similar level of funding next year to encourage such a healthy pastime to flourish even more in Listowel.