Clonakilty Community Garden is inviting members of the local community to join the project on Saturday mornings at 11am. Located on a piece of land in front of Clonakilty Lodge, the garden was set up by volunteers in 2014, with the support of the local Lions’ Club, to encourage and to learn about growing organic food and to provide a common and independent space for the integration of the diverse community in Clonakilty.
“It started off as a project to help the asylum seekers in Clonakilty who are in a state of enforced idleness,” explains Olive Walsh, a Family Support Worker with Clonakilty Friends of the Asylum Seekers. “But it has become so much more. It’s a garden for all of the community and we’d like to encourage any individual or group interested in getting involved to please make contact or just call up to the garden any Saturday morning.
With collaboration between the Community Garden and Clonakilty GIY, the project is now really moving forward. ‘We received a grant of €2,500 under the AIB/GIY Get Ireland Growing Fund but were lacking in gardening expertise and the Clonakilty GIY group had received a €500 grant but didn’t have the land so it seemed logical to join forces,” says Olive. “And it’s great fun working together.”
Cope Foundation, which supports the lives of adults with intellectual disability by providing a wide variety of activities, has recently engaged with the community garden project. A small group has been weeding, watering and painting wooden planting tubs. “I enjoy getting out in the fresh air,” says Margaret, one of the participants from Cope.
With the help of GIY Clonakilty a biodigester to speed up the composting process has now been built, construction of a shed has almost reached completion, raised beds are built and ready for planting up, fences have been erected and a number of fruit trees and bushes planted.
“We’ll be planting veg soon, we’d like to eventually build a greenhouse or small polytunnel and in November we hope to hold an event to mark the collaboration with GIY Clonakilty,” says Olive.
“It’s meant so much to the asylum seekers,” explains Olive. “Not only will the veg grown provide organic food and nutrition that’s not in the budget at the Lodge — it’s a shared goal in an outside space. One woman commented how ‘it is just so good to get out and build up a sweat doing a hard day’s work. And the kids love it — climbing up on piles of manure and filling wheelbarrows. Many of the African people at the Lodge come from farming communities and this type of activity, working the soil, helps them to feel closer to home.”
Going forward, GIY Clonakilty hopes to hold free workshops and demonstrations every three months at the community garden.
The Community Garden is appealing for donations of garden tools, ie wheel barrow, shovels, forks, hand tools, water butts and timber for building garden structures. Windows in good condition would be useful too for the greenhouse.
For more information on upcoming events find GIY Clonakilty and Clonakilty Community Garden on facebook.