Part of the plot
A community garden in Crumlin, Dublin, is home to 133 different plots, all of them enjoying a bumper harvest
“We’ve always run a variety of horticultural courses at Pearse College so the idea of becoming an allotment provider seemed a very natural progression.”
By early 2009, and with the help and support of students, local allotment groups, as well as Dublin City Council and the VEC (the latter provided key funding), the college was in a position to send the diggers in. A year later the site opened for business and since then there’s been a waiting list of people eager to take on a plot.
The ways in which those 133 plots are gardened are as diverse as the people who garden them. The majority are tended by individuals or families living in the local area, as well as students, but there are also a handful that are cultivated by local groups.
One of these caters for people with disabilities (D12dmap), another for recovering addicts (ARC), a third is a meeting place for local men (Rialto Men’s Group). There are “no-dig” plots as advocated by the English gardener Charles Dowding, as well the more traditional “double-dig” plots. Some are organically managed, others not.
There are plots that are arranged in neat lines, or carved into a series of smart, timber-edged beds, and others that are a higgledy-piggledy explosion of growth where giant sunflowers are squeezed next to golden pumpkins and wigwams of scarlet runner beans. But what every one of them shares is the fact that they provide sustenance, both for the body and the mind.
Many of Pearse College’s plot-holders are members of the flourishing Dublin Community Growers group (dublincommunitygrowers.ie), a network of the city’s gardeners who meet every month to share knowledge, experience and advice as well as to promote the idea of a “vibrant green Dublin and a healthy garden movement”.
This month the group is in celebratory mood. Not only has this year’s fine summer resulted in a great harvest, but next Saturday (September 14th) sees the launch of the 2013 Dublin Harvest Festival, a free event taking place in Wolfe Tone Park, Jervis Street, that will bring together the city’s many green-fingered community gardeners and allotment holders. There’ll be workshops on bee-keeping, apple-pressing and how to make seed bombs, as well as a pop-up garden, cookery demonstrations and flower-pot painting, all with the aim of helping people to “green the city from the roots up”. It sounds like fun.