'It brings people together'
Mick mc evoy, previously a GIY regional champion, works for Groundwork NI and still continues to support GIY in Northern Ireland.
Where do you GIY?
We're an environmental and community regeneration charity working across Northern Ireland and also some sites in the Republic, too.
What work are you involved in?
As well as peace-building work, we operate major community gardening and Grow Your Own projects, stretching from Derry to Newry, Donegal to Dublin, assisting communities to produce the best quality homegrown produce, while breaking down social barriers among participants through great activities.
One of our major community allotment sites at west Belfast will soon be the focus for a major development. We hope to create a healthy living centre on-site, with a small-scale social economy project based on sustainable local food production. Our team have also been looking at food education and we have developed a new Grow Your Own training course for would-be gardeners.
What else are you focusing on?
Groundwork NI administrates the Alpha Programme, which recycles landfill tax credits to support environmental projects. We've already disbursed £1.5m (€1.75m) to communities building allotments, community gardens and polytunnels and significant grants of up to £30,000 (€35,000) are available quarterly for great projects.
Do you work with local government?
Yes, often, and currently we are part of the Growing Respect programme with Belfast City Council. The project is based on a structured programme of activities bringing together young people from socially disadvantaged and diverse communities across Belfast.
The horticultural element of the programme was designed to use community gardening as a vehicle for developing awareness and understanding of community diversity and the consequences of anti-social behaviour relating to sectarianism and racism.
So what's next?
Well, over the past year we have been delivering a project in the north-west called Donegal Community Gardens, funded under the PEACE III European Programme.
This project has developed new community gardens in Moville, Raphoe and Letterkenny and is aimed at bringing people together in gardening, both to learn and share a laugh.