Social community gardening has been growing in popularity over recent years for many reasons but if you haven’t discovered this enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours outdoors, you might be wondering what these kind of gardens are, and who gets involved…
Community gardens are places where people of all ages and experiences come together in an outdoors setting to share the work and share the harvest. This makes them ideal places to make the most of your strengths. If you have a bad back, someone else does the digging, if you love weeding, someone else will hate it! Then when it’s time to share the food grown, recipes are swapped, new vegetables tried and tasty meals shared.
There are no two community gardens alike but they have lots in common. They are usually inter-generational, socially inclusive, cross all socio-economic barriers. Above all, they are places where people talk about, grow, care for and share food, and maybe more besides, shoulder to shoulder. If you ask people what they enjoy most about being in a community garden, you’d be hard pushed to split them between loving the social aspects or just being outside and working with nature.
There are lots of reasons you might enjoy being in a local community garden, and usually you only have to be there for a couple of hours each week to experience them.
If you don’t have a garden or any idea how to garden, you’ll be welcomed. You might have a large garden that’s unmanageable, live alone and don’t have the energy to garden on your own; in a community garden you’ll meet people who enjoy sharing the workload and the company. You might want to meet new people and grow new friendships. In a community garden you’ll find like-minded people who care about food and nature. There’s a range of experience in a community garden, from none at all to years and years of greening fingers. You’ll always go home having learnt something new about food, the environment, gardening and of course humans.
Linking up with local Education Training Boards, community gardens often run free, fun or accredited training courses that might include beginners gardening, preserving, cooking skills, recycling, composting stonewalling or landscaping. Trips to other gardens (on invite), talks or events often take place too.
Are your green fingers getting twitchy? The Community Garden Network (CGN) is a voluntary organisation that supports community gardening in Ireland and Northern Ireland. They’ve started to map all the gardens on their website so if you’re looking for a garden close to you, take a look there first. Alternatively why not start one up? The CGN offer advice and virtual support and meet two or three times every year in different counties around the island.
We are grateful to Dee Sewell for this Post. Dee is owner of Greenside Up, a social enterprise in Carlow where she works as a community garden tutor and volunteers with a new 2 acre Carlow community garden. Dee is one of the founding members and a coordinator of the Community Garden Network set up in 2011 to offer support to community gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland.