Category Archives: Limerick Leader 2015

Seeds sewn for community allotment in the New Year

Dig in D’Island members Christy Flanagan and Garry Hyland, with Sara Kohandel, who hails from Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. They are hoping to be able to open their new community allotment in the heart of St Mary’s Park early in the New Year PICTURE: DAVE GAYNOR
Dig in D’Island members Christy Flanagan and Garry Hyland, with Sara Kohandel, who hails from Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. They are hoping to be able to open their
new community allotment in the heart of St Mary’s Park early in the New Year PICTURE: DAVE GAYNOR

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!

Members of the Outdoor Community Impact Group, St. Marys Park: Gary Hyland, CWELL student; Majella Cosgrove, CWELL student; Ciara Dempsey, UL research assistant and Christy Flanagan, CWELL student Picture: Gareth Williams

Allotment group plots to get everyone involved

Leader’s Get Involved entry to start growing concern in St Mary’s – by Nick Rabbitts

A GROUP which has plans to open a community allotment in St Mary’s Park has been selected as the Limerick Leader’s entry into the national Get Involved sustainable community campaign. Christy Flanagan, Majella Cosgrove and Gary Hyland met while taking part in a course focusing on community, wellness, empowerment, leadership and life skills (CWELL). Together with University of Limerick research assistant Ciara Dempsey, the group is putting in place pioneering plans to use lands once ravaged by floods to open garden space to grow vegetables, and re-establish a sense of pride in King’s Island.

The group will represent the Limerick Leader in the 2015 Get Involved campaign. An initiative of Local Ireland, and sponsored by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Get Involved 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.

Two further bursaries of €1,000 each will be presented to two runners up. The group has identified land immediately beside the community centre, and on the banks of the Shannon to set up the allotments, with a projected open date of February 2016, in time for planting in the spring. “We would hope to have about eight to ten plots, measuring eight-foot long by four foot wide.

We will have all different kinds of vegetables from Brussels sprouts to cabbages and potatoes, plus we will grow flowers too,” explained Christy. The plans to build allotments sprung up when the trio were working on the CWELL programme – a joint initiative between UL and St Mary’s Community Development Project.

A key part of the allotment project is to get the area’s youth involved. To this end, the group is linking up with St Mary’s National School. Christy says it is hoped one or two classes in the school will help tend to the allotment all year around. But as well as this, they want to see plots set up in the grounds of the school, so the children can witness first-hand the way flowers and vegetables grow. He said: “A lot of the children living in this parish do not realise you can grow your own vegetables. I know it might sound strange, but it is true. They think you just go to a supermarket and buy them.”

“They think you just go to a supermarket and buy them” Majella Cosgrove Outdoor Community Impact Group

Majella adds: “This will give children a sense of pride in their area, because there can be a lot of negatives.” If the project takes off – and the group insists it will – they expect to host a weekly garden market selling fruit and vegetables. On top of this, they plan to link in with the local community centre, which has agreed to sell any vegetables they grow in the cafe. Any money made will be ploughed back into the running of the allotments.

Although Gary, Christy and Majella will graduate from the CWELL course early next year, they are planning to remain together and run the allotment. “We want to show people there is a positive side to St Mary’s community, rather than a negative side. It will start small, but it will build and build,” Majella promised.