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Urban gardening makes a comeback

By Fionnuala Holohan

Urban gardening – which includes allotments, community gardens and window boxes – is making a comeback.

A map of gardens in Dublin shows the predominance of residential community gardens that are mostly independent of the council but may receive funding or support from them.

Council-approved allotments are in keen demand but there are fewer of them.

Cllr. Rebecca Moynihan at the opening of St. Andrew's Community Garden

According to Noel McEvoy of the Dublin City Council (DCC) Park Authority, they have a waiting list of 500 and climbing, of people desiring allotments. When the council brought St Anne’s in Raheny on stream the list dropped to 300, but it has risen again.

However, there are other options that communities can consider.

Over in the DCC Department of Community and Development, the Council are helping communities who want to make use of the disused and neglected areas within their local area and create community gardens.

In a post-Celtic Tiger world, where leveled or undeveloped building sites are unlikely to find tenants in the next 15 to 20 years, there is a huge opportunity to reclaim this land for community use. The South Circular Road community garden is a shining example of this.

The Dublin Community Forum (DCF), a network of community forums in Dublin, produced a booklet in 2010 which provides all the information needed to create a garden – from finance and location to gardening tips and sustainable living.

DCF say that gardens enhance a community’s quality of life, through new friendships, purposeful activity and through the creation of more green areas within the inner city.

Mr McEvoy is delighted with the growing interest,and credits it to a combination of reasons; a renewed interest in where food comes from, the popularity of cooking and cooking programs promoting homegrown produce, the organic food movement and counter culture, and the fact that there are more people, such as the unemployed, with time on their hands now.

The green movement in general is also contributing to the renewed interest.

“We’re really dependent on people coming to us,” said Anne O’Brien, DCC’s Play Development officer, who works with interested community groups to make urban spaces more child-friendly and interesting.

At a commercial level, Dublin Co-Op near St Patrick’s Street in Newmarket currently source their produce from various growers around outer Dublin, but there is ongoing discussion about whether to also source from more local gardens, according to Fintan Molloy from the Co-op.

However, most community garden growers are mainly interested in growing for themselves and their neighbours in the community, rather than making money from the activity.

Further information on where to start:

The DCF ‘Dublin Guide to Community Gardening’ at

http://www.dublin.ie/dcdb/community-forum/publications.htm#Community_Gardening.

Telephone: 01 222 3259.

Email: community.forum@dublincity.ie

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