THE team behind the Limerick Leader’s entry into the Get Involved competition hope to open their community allotment in the New Year. It comes after Limerick City and County Council started a tendering process to allow contractors to build the allotment on a green patch of land in the King’s Island. St Mary’s Park residents Christy Flanagan, GarryHyland and Majella Cosgrove are part of the Dig in D’Is – land project, which has been selected as the Leader’s entry into Get Involved.
Organised by Local Ireland and sponsored by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the competition is designed to promote voluntary sustainability projects. The winning project – drawn from towns and cities across Ireland – will be given a bursary of €5,000, while two further bursaries of €1,000 each will go to two runners up. Christy, Garry and Majella met while taking part on a course focusing on community, wellness, employment, leadership and life skills (Cwell for short).
They want to re-establish a sense of pride in the King’s Island community after last year’s devastating floods. They had originally planned to build on lands slightly closer to the Shannon. But Christy said the allotment has had to move back due to a road being put in to reduce the risk of flooding in future. Measuring 18 metres by 25 metres, the allotment will allow for around 36 raised beds, with two-metre wide paths around it. It is hoped the area will be open to the community come January or February to allow a chance for plants to grow in the run-up to summer.
Despite this wait, there remains a strong sense of community engagement in the project, with Christy attending St Mary’s National School each week, where a small plot of land has been set up to give children there an idea of what to expect. “It is on a small scale of what we are going to be doing at the allotment. But I hope children can see how good home grown vegetables can be, and how healthy they can be.” He added: “A lot of them did not know what broccoli was, to be honest with you! We also planted onions and broad beans there, and there will also be a strawberry plant put in.” Christy has also launched a survey to find out what the community wants to see at the allotment. “It is not about us telling them what we want.
For long enough, people have been told what they should have: they have never been asked,” he said. Meanwhile, Christy, Gary and Majella have also enlisted the help of two North American students from the University of Limerick. Sara Kohandel, from Calgary in Canada, and Pennsylvania girl Alicia Rogers are involved in the planning of the allotment, and will help out on site, when it ‘goes live’, as it were. Sara said: “When I heard about this project, I was excited, because I felt I could get immersed in the Irish culture and work with Irish people.” She praised the team, saying: “They are a very resilient group, they are really committed to making their community better.
They know what they want, they just need the resources to do it.” If Dig in D’Island does win the Get Involved title, it will be the second year in a row a Limerick community project has triumphed at the national awards. Last year, the Limerick Co-operative, based in Mulgrave Street, beat projects from across the island to land the title. Hopes are now high for the big double!