TO say the Enniscorthy Community Allotments project has been a resounding success would arguably by the understatement of the year.
However, the culmination of a lot of hard work and determination on the part of the committee behind the project, led by Michael Devereux, was embodied in the official opening of the allotments at the weekend.
However, even prior to last Saturday’s opening the project served to put the national spotlight on Enniscorthy when the allotments recently featured on RTÉ’s Nationwide programme.
The project also received national endorsement last month when it won the ‘Best Garden Transformation Award’ in the Energia Get Ireland Growing awards.
The entry for the awards was submitted by committee members Mark Cooke and Noreen Kehoe and winning the award was a major achievement as the project only opened its gates to members in April.
The project will receive €1,000 as a prize for the award and that money will be used to support further improvements and ongoing development of the site.
Speaking to the Enniscorthy Guardian about the project committee member, Eimear McCauley, said it was fantastic to see the facility being officially opened.
Between ground level plots, raised beds and polytunnel sections there are around 86 plots currently occupied in the allotments but as Eimear pointed out the actual number of people who use the facility is greater than that because some of the plots are worked by families or groups such the Hope Cancer Support Centre, Wexford Cottage Autism Network and CWCW.
One plot is worked by Ukranian nationals which gives the project a lovely international flavour.
“The average number of people per plot is probably around three,” said Eimear. The official opening was carried out by Cllr Aidan Browne and Eimear said that was very fitting because he was been involved with the project from the very beginning along with Michael Devereux who has spearheaded the initiative and been its main driving force from day one.
Michael spoke at the opening and highlighted the significance of the allotments for the wider community and where the idea for the project came from originally.
Along with Michael, there were four other speakers on the day including Cllr Browne, Cllr Lisa McDonald and Cara Daly, who is head of horticulture at SETU (South East Technological University).
Mary Dunphy, from LCDC was also in attendance, and it was she who sanctioned much of the funding that went towards developing the project.
The work on bringing the allotments idea to fruition took over a year-and-a-half and those in attendance for the opening were told of the significance of the day not just for the present-day users of the allotments but also going forward to the people who will utilise the project going forward.
Eimear said one of the visions of the seven-person committee behind the project is to see it developed as a full training facility serving the entire county.
“The only training centres close by are Waterford or Kildalton at present,” said Eimear.
“It has potential for the wider county because of its central location,” she added.
“Enniscorthy is pretty accessible to most people anywhere in the county because of its location and that’s something we would hope can be maximised.”
At present all of the plots in the allotments are booked up and there is a waiting list. However, the membership ends on March 31, each year and Eimear said anyone interested in finding out more about the project or getting their name on the waiting list should make contact sooner rather than later and this time of the year is the ideal time to submit their name.
Eimear said that while a lot of people might want to keep their plot and stay at it while for others it might be something that they tried but found it wasn’t for them and might opt not to continue and that’s where the waiting list will come into play.
With March being effectively the beginning of growing season it’s important for people to get their names in now if they want to be in with a chance to have a plot allocated to them.
Information about the project is available online on the Enniscorthy Community Allotments website and the usual social media platforms.
Now that the project is officially up-and-running and open for business it’s hoped the wider community will get fully behind it and with the help and support of the local authority it could provide a template for similar initiatives to be rolled out across the county.