Thanks for the great conversation for Michael Kennedy, who is the responsible person for the community garden in East Clare Co-op. He has been working in this garden for one and a half year. He joined the community because he likes doing this and he does gardening at home too, he has experience in growing vegetables, beside that he has cows and goats for their milk and to make cheese.
The garden has two parts; the first is the older one, almost 25 years old, and planted mainly with perennials in rock framed beds. The bench on the path is a piece of artwork made at the mosaic course, hm…pretty…cool.
The second one was established later, where the frames of raised beds have been changed step by step from timber to rocks, as timber rots very fast in Ireland due to climate and fungi and it lasts five times shorter than on the continent.
We can find also ornamental plants to gladden the soul. There has been a government supported program through which a group of people who is interested in gardening came and renewed two herb spots neatly (borage, rosemary, dill, mints, oregano, chamomile, sage included).
Beside fruits and herbs, vegetables are also grown in the garden – for example: lettuce, mizuna, kale, tomatoes, parsnips, turnips, potato, leeks those are sold in the café, especially the vegetables for salad. The community garden is maintained also by those who learn about theory of gardening in the classroom and would like to get some practical experience. Young pear trees and apple trees thrive in the garden which fruits are used for tarts and pies and sold in the café.
A tiny but cosy greenhouse is also included in the garden where seedling are grown in seed trays and kept warm by barrel-method (two large –approximately 200 litres) plastic barrels containing water absorb heat during the day, releasing it during the night, while increasing the inside temperature.) A solar panel is a future plan to be hopefully established to keep temperature even more consistent.
Seeds are saved or purchased from the Seedsavers/Seedbank to which we had the chance to visit during the week. http://www.irishseedsavers.ie/
The earliest seeding starts in February, certain crops can be grown outside at that time e.g. garlic and other bulb typed plants or Brassicas. There are a lot of nasturtiums growing in the garden, not just for its edible leaf and flower but also to protect other plants against slugs (they prefer to choose nasturtium instead).
The kitchen is the extension of the garden; people can rent it out and try to make dishes out of the vegetables they grew here. Cooking courses are regularly held in the well-equipped kitchen.
Michael’s idea is to involve local schools, community groups to teach students how to produce food so youngsters can be more aware of the process of growing food and spending their time in good company. The community garden could be promoted and kept small and manageable at the same time.
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This article was written by our volunteer Laura Farkas. Thank you Laura!