Wicklow growers unite in call for community gardens
THE recent online Spring gathering and forum of Community Growers held on Saturday, March 11, saw attendees, including Dónal McCormack of Blessington Allotments, unanimously backing calls for revised legislation to require local authorities to provide allotments and community gardens where there is demand locally.
The cross-border event, organised by Community Gardens Ireland (CGI) and Social Farms and Gardens Northern Ireland, was attended by over 70 community growers virtually from all over the island of Ireland.
This event was a continuation of the two organisations’ joint project called Growing Resilience Across Ireland (GRÁ Ireland) which aims to bring community growers North and South closer together.
Dónal, who is also Chairperson of Community Gardens Ireland, and Social Farms and Gardens Northern Ireland’s Miriam Turley gave updates on the challenges faced when trying to access and secure land for community growing projects north and south, including how currently local authorities are not obligated to provide allotments or community gardens in Ireland.
Dónal said: “Recent proposals for planning reform in Ireland have shown the weaknesses with current laws and the need for a strong community growing law in Ireland.
“Despite the huge benefits from allotments and community gardens, local authorities are currently not required to provide allotments or community gardens where demand is present.
“Given the climate and biodiversity crises taking place, laws need to enable community climate actions such as allotments and community gardens to be provided by local authorities for every community in Ireland.”
Santry Community Garden in Fingal, Dublin, was the keynote speaker at the gathering. Santry Community Garden is the recipient of two Green Flag Awards in 2021 and 2022, and was voted one of the top ten Green Flag sites in the world in the People’s Choice Awards in 2022.
They also have one of only four complete Irish Heritage Apple collections in the country, consisting of 68 varieties.
Attendees then unanimously backed Community Gardens Ireland and Social Farms and Gardens Northern Ireland’s call for revised legislation to be put in place to require local authorities to provide allotments and community gardens where demand is present.