As a community garden we are always looking to other gardens and communities as for ideas to bring back to moy hill community garden. At the Electric Picnic festival we were part of the global green which involved many other like minded organisations such as Seed Savers and the East Clare Co-operative who have both been around a lot longer than we have and are two of our many inspirations for the garden.
This month I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Berlin whilst visiting a friend. The Germans are renowned for their commitment to their green spaces and growing their own food so I thought it would be a great idea to get some tips from those people who are creating green spaces at the heart of Berlin.
A great example of a community garden in Berlin was Prinzessinnen Garten (Princess Garden) http://www.prinzessinnengarten.net which was created in 2009 by Nomadic Green who teamed up with neighbours, friends and growers to clear up what was a concrete wasteland. Over the years, their hard work and commitment has transformed it into an urban place of learning where locals can come and learn more about growing their own food, bio-diveristy and climate protection. Princess Garden is not only green space to grow and learn in, it also acts as a socially cohesive project, transcending any social, cultural or ethnic boundaries that often exist in big cities and unifying local people with the common goal of paving a more healthy way of living together in the city.
We also had the pleasure of visiting NCAD community garden farm project in Dublin this month, where local people have come together to create a beautiful growing space out of disused, derelict site. As well as symbolising the people’s need for a sense of community spirit it showed how much we all need outdoor spaces to enjoy, especially amongst inner city environments.Re-habilitation schemes have incorporated time in the garden as part of their programmes to help people get back on their feet and have so far been a great success. However, it hasn’t been easy growing green in this patch of concrete though as they first had to cover the ground in compost, soil and manure to be able to plant in the first place. Now they make their own compost out of fruit and veg off-cuts from local cafes and grocers, wood chips and grass cuttings. You could see the of the quality of the compost from how green the leafy vegetables were and how good they tasted! Not only is this garden for growing food, it is also there to help people grow themselves.
At the Moy Hill Community Garden we have the luxury of being in a rural setting with an abundance of soil, trees, wild plant-life and scenic views however the garden itself was once just a half acre of brambles and scrub. Community Gardens can spring up anywhere if the vision and motivation is there. Even if there is just a patch of concrete you can create a vertical garden as they have done in Princess Garden. Simply find some old plastic crates (preferably with holes in so the soil can breath) and pile them up on top of each other to waist level so they are accessible and fill with soil. This can also be done with old palates by putting two on their side so the slats are horizontal and attaching the underneath of them together to create a narrow box. Then attach a black plastic bag to the bottom and fill with soil. You can then plant in between the slats and on the top of the pallet.
So as much as I missed being away from the garden I learnt so many valuable lessons this month. It made me realise how community gardens can happen anywhere no matter how big or small, urban or sub-urban the space, anything is possible.
For more information on the garden visit http://www.growing.ie where you can sign up to our newsletter or for upcoming events go to http://www.facebook.com/moyhillcommunitygarden. We will be having a Halloween celebration in the garden on Saturday 31st October, everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there!