Dublin City Council’s first urban farm opens at St Anne’s Park

Working farm gives Dubliners chance to learn about raising animals and growing food

Children run alongside Moses, an energetic 17-year-old miniature pony, on the opening day of Dublin City Council’s first urban farm at St Anne’s Park, Raheny. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Children run alongside Moses, an energetic 17-year-old miniature pony, on the opening day of Dublin City Council’s first urban farm at St Anne’s Park, Raheny. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

The first urban farm within the Dublin City Council area is far from being a quaint place for city dwellers to view and pet caged animals. Located at St Anne’s Park in Raheny, it is a working farm, run by a committed band of more than 20 volunteers who live locally.

The farm was declared open on Friday by Lord Mayor Nial Ring who said it “will give children and adults an opportunity to learn about raising animals, growing food and seeing other farm-based activities in an urban setting”.

St Anne’s City Farm manager Marion Kelly said it followed in the footsteps of great community farms in London like Hackney city farm and Spitalfields city farm.

“We believe every child and grown-up should have access to a garden and that everyone in the garden is equal. By providing a safe and open space for people to share what they know and learn from others, we strive to empower people through knowledge and creating,” she said.

Dublin city’s first urban farm opens in Raheny

Dublin City Council opens St Anne’s City Farm, a home to rescued animals and a community space where adults and children can learn about growing and cooking organic food. Video: Kathleen Harris
Con Faughnan from Raheney with volunteer Caitríona Marsh with the Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs at Dublin city’s first urban farm. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Con Faughnan from Raheney with volunteer Caitríona Marsh with the Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs at Dublin city’s first urban farm. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The farm will operate on a not-for-profit basis, and intends to be 75 per cent sustainable and off-grid by using solar panels within five years, according to Ms Kelly. The project received a €50,000 donation from Google. St Anne’s City Farm is the first within the Dublin City Council boundary. One of the city’s best known farms, Airfield Estate, is in Dundrum outside that area in Co Dublin and is run by a charitable trust.

The farm’s mission was to bring sustainability to the city but volunteers would be needed to sustain it, Ms Kelly said. “We want to get people to come and learn to grow plants and to get involved with the animals. They are all ‘rescues’. They need love. We want to make you love nature. You will never save the planet unless you love it.”

‘Natural capital’

The local authority backed her idea proposed four years ago as a way to build “natural capital” and contribute to the greening of the city, said Leslie Moore, its head of park services. He stressed that it was not a “petting farm”; it was a community resource to be grown locally.

“There were many submissions to the recent Dublin Climate Change Action Plan public consultation that recommended promoting community initiatives around local food production. The urban farm at St Anne’s Park responds to that . . . I hope this will be a model for similar projects in other areas of the city,” he added.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring with Moses, the 17-year-old miniature pony, and Ella and Lynn Spitzer Beirne on the opening day of Dublin City Council’s first urban farm. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring with Moses, the 17-year-old miniature pony, and Ella and Lynn Spitzer Beirne on the opening day of Dublin City Council’s first urban farm. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Caitríona Marsh, a Leaving Cert student at Holy Faith School, Clontarf, volunteers there every weekend. The work involves mucking out stables, looking after animals and planting, which she said was “a nice kind of zoning out” after a busy week. She has a particular fondness for the pair of resident Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, who have the run of the place.

“Basically, they are free range. They are spoiled rotten,” she added. The hens had similar freedom but a recent arrival of a fox over the high perimeter fence meant better protection from nearby invaders had to be put in place.

The farm at 67 All Saints Avenue is open to the public five days a week (Wednesday to Sunday) all year round and it is free to visit – more details at dublincityfarm.com