Congratulations to all of you who “Got Involved” this year. Each person who took part, whether as a project leader or a part time contributor, has played a part in something bigger than themselves.
You’ve campaigned, renovated, conserved, gardened and co-op-ed up a storm for your community’s benefit. And so have lots and lots and LOTS of other people throughout the country.
In fact, 27 separate projects were undertaken in 2015. Each project brought together a community of volunteers who focused on bringing about practical and real social change.
Add to this year’s tally the 22 projects that were completed in 2014 and the additional 22 that participated in 2013, the first year of the initiative, and you start to get the picture of a wave of social innovation that is sweeping the country project by project.
Although each Get Involved project is supported by its local newspaper, we want to spread the word about Get Involved further and wider. We want to let everyone in Ireland know that communities throughout the country have given up their time to make real, sustainable change happen. It’s time to take our underground movement into the spotlight!
You can help by sharing stories, pictures and videos of your project. Not only will this inspire future participants to take up the mantle, it might even encourage the judges to take a shine to your project (and let’s not forget that there’s a bursary of €12,000 available for the winners to share).
We’ll Tweet, post to Facebook and make sure that your project shouts louder, shines brighter and gets the attention it deserves.
THERE is a sustainable food concept gathering pace in Westport, and the passion of two likeminded women is instilling small pockets of change on the ecosystem of the town and the mindset of the local community. The Edible Landscape Project (ELP) is the brainchild of Caithriona McCarthy who got the project off the ground in 2012, and she was soon joined by Paula Halpin. Both women have a passion for sustainable horticulture and their initiative continues to capture the attention of likeminded people far and wide.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS AN EDIBLE LANDSCAPE?
“IT is a system designed around the inter-relationship which exists between trees, shrubs and perennial plants, all planted in such a way as to mimic a natural, temperate woodland,” according to the two women. “Ultimately this results in the formation of a very sustainable and stable ecosystem and the ELP is about food security and sustainability, planting, not using chemicals and not wasting water. Whatever we do is locally based and sourced… and we also have fun!”
Already with several successful workshops hosted – such as apple tree grafting and pruning – the next step for the ELP is to explore the concept of a Forest Garden in Westport. Paula and Caithriona hope that this template, currently being worked on at Westport Quay, will sow the seed for many such planting systems at suitable and appropriate locations around Westport. The Mayo News will work with the Edible Landscape Project to promote this new initiative over the coming months, as part of the ‘Local Ireland’ newspaper grouping organisation’s Get Involved Community Project 2015.
Edible forest gardening is the art and science of putting plants together in woodland like patterns that forge mutually beneficial relationships, creating a garden ecosystem. You can grow fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, other useful plants, and attract animals in a way that mimics natural ecosystems. Imagine a small forest where almost everything around you is food. Mature and maturing fruit and nut trees form an open canopy. If you look carefully, you can see fruits swelling on many branches while shrubs fill the gaps in the canopy, bearing berries and nuts of all sorts. Assorted native wildflowers, wild edibles, herbs, and perennial vegetables thickly cover the ground. That is a forest garden and that is what the Edible Landscape Project are now working on.
“You can grow plenty in Ireland and it is about making people aware of that,” said Paula.
“There are a lot of plants we can eat and the amount of labour and time and energy and effort that goes into a regular vegetable garden is often quite substantial. Using this system doesn’t require the same input of time.”
Caithriona added that it is about food security and sustainability.
“There are people who can live off a hectare of land using this system. We are experimenting to see which plants will adapt and thrive here in the west of Ireland, and we have a co-operative approach where several people will experiment and trial different perennial plants and share their results.
Using this concept you can also provide fuel for your home.” The duo continue: “At The edible Landscape’s Forest Gardening Workshop in early October we will be considering aspect, shelter in the form of hedges or fencing, soil management and the best types of plants to use for this site.
There is a lot to consider, but we have identified the site and are currently preparing the ground. “We are going to use apple trees that we have grafted from Westport House as well as plants that grow well with apples, such as strawberries, chives and fennel,” revealed Caithriona.
We will draw up a planting plan which Paula will design on a CAD system. It is not just about planting and moving on. You have to get the design right to ensure little or no maintenance is required on the site once we’ve finish planting.”
The Edible Landscape Project is community based and anyone who would like to attend the Forest Gardening Workshop can do so, although there will be a maximum number of ten to 12 participants. The ELP hope that in time the forest garden area will form its own ecosystem with a succession of planting and wildlife, and that this can then be replicated in much the same way around Westport.
“We are hopeful to get the forest garden up and going shortly, we will aim to incorporate, strawberries, raspberries, hazels, gooseberries, mint, apple trees and we are experimenting with nuts, we would love to do a walnut orchard somewhere,” said Caithriona.
“There are a lot of flowers you can eat too and leaves from trees, and bamboo, sweet potato, kiwis,sustainfennels, cold climate bananas. We are trying to expand the range but it requires some experimenting.”
ACCORDING to Paula the most obvious project they have undertaken is the row of apple trees planted along by the skate park on the way up to McConville Park, and the mix of fruit and nut trees planted at the back of the Elms.
They also worked on a planting project on the Greenway near Allergan, in conjunction with TY students from Westport’s schools. “We got funding to work with the schools on food security and sustainability, showing students what they can easily grow at home and in school,” explained Paula. “People come to our workshops and they learn and they love it. At these we plant, prune, and do various things. We had a willow weaving workshop.
We ran several grafting workshops using cuttings from Westport fruit trees which we will replant around town when they grow.” None of this would be possible with partnership adds Caithriona. “We have a great relationship with a lot of community groups, and TUS have been fantastic, their workers are on board for a lot of projects. Carrowbeg College of Further Education, [where Caithriona teaches in horticulture] have also forged a strong partnership with us, it is all about partnerships.”
Ann Moore and Simon Wall from Mayo County Council have been a fantastic help say the ELP and all of their planting so far has taken place on the Town Greenway.
A common background and passion for horticulture got Paula and Caithriona talking and spawned the Edible Landscape Project, and now, just a few short years later, the fruits of their voluntary labour are looming all around Westport.
For more information on the ELP and their workshops see: ediblelandscape.ie/index. php/projects/ or check out www.facebook.com/ theediblelandscapeproject
A NEW project aimed at helping the people of Co. Wexford to conserve natural resources and save money is The Echo’s entry in the Get Involved competition, run by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. The project, entitled ‘Future-proof the Model County’ is hoping to make people aware of how they can both save money and save the earth’s natural resources, with a focus on two areas: forming a practical service to help with installation and maintenance of rainwater harvesting devices and; providing a service to assist householders to make and use good compost.
The project, which is being coordinated by Senan O’Reilly and former Green Party leader and Minister Trevor Sargent, originated when a group of Wexford residents were discussing the ‘transition town’ initiative which began in Kinsale, Co. Cork. That project aimed to make communities more resilient to future shocks caused by climate change, oil dependency, etc. and the group hit on the idea of helping more people to home-compost and harvest rainwater as ways to develop community spirit, conserve natural resources, improve soil health and save money for individual householders.
The first part of the project will be a public meeting at Wexford town library on Tuesday, September 8 where Davie Philip from the Eco-Village in Cloughjordan will outline the importance globally and benefits locally of ‘future proofing Wexford’. Members of Wexford Co. Council’s Environment section and of Wexford Tidy Towns Biodiversity Committee will be invited to offer their own thoughts and advice on the project. From there, teams or ‘paramedic groups’ to tackle both the compost and rainwater sides of the project will be established and the initiative is due to be officially launched on Friday, September 25 at a local venue.
Throughout the course of the project, The Echo will publicise examples of good rainwater harvesting and good composting and use of compost as well as advertising the email query line for anyone interested in getting help with either of the issues. Monthly progress reports will also let the public know how the project is going and to see if targets for increasing composting and harvesting are met. Coordinators of the project Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Sargent said: “Benefits of the project include getting more people talking about and actively involved in conserving natural resources.
For the local environment, the wider use of well-made home compost will help to improve soil health and also encourage more people to become growers.” Rainwater harvesting is also a benefit to gardeners as rainwater is better for plants than tap water. They added: “The long term benefits for the community will include creating a template for similar community based mutual support services including things like energy conservation measures, wildlife habitat work, car pooling, allotment provision or school parents organising a walking bus.” For anyone interested in getting involved in the project, the contact is Senan O’Reilly who is contactable via email at wexlive@gmail. com or on 086 242 7981. Members of the group who developed the project will be in attendance at the public meeting on September 8, more details of which to follow. The coordinators added: “We are hopeful of that a critical mass of people will become involved at the public me eting and through coverage in our local media. All told, we would hope each ‘paramedic’ group would have a rota of about 12 volunteers.”
New Street garden in the heart of Waterford city has transformed and given a new lease of life to a derelict site once earmarked for a major retail and hotel development.
A terrace of beautifully maintained houses owned mainly by elderly residents were purchased as part of the landbank for the potential development but sadly the development company fell victim to the recession.The houses on a section of the site fell into disrepair and following a spate of anti-social behaviour they were demolished by Waterford City Council. Last January, weeds, broken bottles, cans and other litter fought for space on the site.
That was until city-based teacher, Edel Tobin – a woman who never takes no for an answer – came up with the idea of a community garden, developed by the community and for the community with everything from labour, expertise and materials provided at little or no cost.
When asked, the City Council partnered the project, support was given by staff of the internationally renowned Mount Congreve Gardens, unemployed people involved in the Ballybeg Community Garden project a couple of miles away offered their help as did local retailers, craftsmen such as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, tillers, amateur gardeners, pensioners, children and artists.
Some items had to be purchased and money had to be raised to facilitate a summer programme of activities and the people of Waterford were not found wanting when they raised €10,000 through a Fundit campaign.
GIY also staunchly supported the project and encouraged the development of a herb garden which was planted and is being cared for by city primary school children.
Over a period of six months the site was transformed. Recycled goods such as lampstands, old tyres and broken tiles were given a new lease of life to enhance the community/entertainment space which was formally opened by President Michael D. Higgins on June 20th last.
New Street garden is now an oasis of tranquility in the city centre, with a huge stage it is a venue for live music, it is an open air cinema, it is a garden, it is a venue for major festivals such as Waterford Spraoi, the Harvest and Imagine festivals, an art space, a learning space and above all, it belongs to the people of Waterford.
New Street Garden has given hope for renewal, it has instilled pride in everyone involved and amazed spectators and it is a constant reminder there is a use for everything and that good can come from adversity.
Sligo Champion is working with a group from Grange, North Sligo to set up a Spanish Armada Interpretative Centre. The Centre will be be situated in the old courthouse, which has been closed for more than six years and is currently dilapidated.
Read about their progress to date in the below article from the Sligo Champion.
A group of residents from the Kilbarry, Co Waterford area, supported by The Munster Express, have entered the Get Involved competition with a project that aims to improve the St John’s River and the surround area.
Read about their progress in the below articles from The Munster Express.
Thirty projects have been chosen by their local newspapers for inclusion in the 2014 Get Involved national competition, which boasts a prize fund of €7,000.
The organisers of Get Involved, NNI Local & Regional and Local Ireland, which together represent 51 weekly titles, have agreed the remaining deadlines for this year’s competition.
July 11th – The first deadline is for the submission of the completed application form, which should detail the local project plan and objectives. Copies of this document are available here.
October 31st – The second deadline is for the final submissions for judging.
Judging will commence on November 13th. Initial judging will be carried out on a desktop basis and the top 10 projects emerging from this process will be subject to site visits by the national judging panel. Site visits will take place on November 26th/27th.
The presentation of awards will take place in Dublin Castle in January 2015. All local projects will be invited to send representatives to this reception, where the winning project and two runner-up projects will be presented with cash awards amounting to a total of €7,000. Each local project will receive a framed certificate recognising their participation in Get Involved 2014.
The 2014 SEAI Get Involved community initiative launched in April received a massive boost this week following the decision by organisers, NNI Local and Regional and the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland (RNPAI) to provide a €7,000 prize fund for this year’s competition.
The winning entry from each newspaper will be eligible to compete for this valuable prize fund which will consist of a €5,000 bursary for the winning project and 2 x €1,000 bursaries for the two runner-up projects.
Judging for the awards will take place in October/November by the judging panel, chaired by renowned broadcaster/environmentalist Duncan Stewart.
This welcome boost has prompted the organisers to extend the deadline. So if you have ambitions to undertake a sustainable community project please contact your local newspaper editor. For further information go to www. get-involved.ie
A project in Athboy has been chosen as the Meath entry in ‘Get Involved 2013’, a new nationwide competition run by local newspapers across the country.
The project from Athboy Tidy Town (TT) committee concerns the transformation of a current eyesore on a street corner in the town into a landscaped space with the co-operation of Meath County Council and award-winning landscape architect Jane McCorkell.
‘Get Involved’ is a community initiative developed by the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland (RNPAI) whereby newspapers are supporting voluntary community projects that help to enhance a local area.
The Meath Chronicle chose the Athboy TT project as the most suitable scheme to emerge from the entries submitted from all over the county and will be supporting the project through regular coverage as the work progresses.
Projects need to be completed by August, at which point judging will commence. The national competition will be judged by a panel chaired by the renowned architect and environmentalist, Duncan Stewart.
An awards ceremony will be held on Thursday 12th September at Áras an Uachtaráin where President Michael D Higgins will be on hand to announce the winners.
The Athboy project is located at the site of an old house knocked down by Meath County Council to improve visibility at Lower Bridge Street, Athboy. Hoarding had been erected around the site which has now become unsightly and broken, and the area behind the hoarding has become overgrown and filled with litter.
The area has become very unsightly and represents an ideal project for enhancement by Athboy TT, which has an excellent record with this type of project.
The council has agreed to work with the Athboy TT committee on site clearance, landscape preparation and path-laying and Bloom show garden winner Jane McCorkell from Kilsallaghan has prepared an appropriate design for the space, which will involve planting a lawn, flowerbed with mixed herbaceous flowers and specimen trees and the installation of a seat and an asphalt pathway through the site.
It is further intended that bat and bird boxes will be attached to the old boundary walls of the site. Over 20 Athboy TT members will be involved in the project and they will also be responsible for ongoing maintenance of the area once it is completed.
The plan is to first of all remove the rubble and litter and council to delineate the site to improve visibility for road-users. A new footpath will be laid at the outer borders of site, ivy and brambles will be cut back and stone walls repointed.
An asphalt path is to be laid by council through the site while specimen trees will be be planted, in addition to a central flowerbed with mixed herbaceous flowers, which will be bee butterfly and moth-attracting.
The Athboy TT group has been very active in the town over the last number of years and has been central to a number of propjects which have helped enhance the town, including the Spiral Bed Project which involved developing a small planting scheme at the Frayne and Delvin Roads junction; the Church View project, which created a comprehensive plan for the green area at Church View, and the Cowpark project – in partnership with Athboy Social Needs & Recreational Company – which resulted in the provision of a scouts’ camping area, archery range, wildflower meadow, installaion of sculptures, tree-planting and establishing a 700m river walk.
The derelict site in Athboy set to be transformed.