Hello everyone – I have been holding off this newsletter for some weeks now , waiting … waiting !
And I am are sure I wasn’t alone in this , as the winter kept a hold on us, the frost lingered on . And our seedlings struggled out of the ground … slowly but surely spring raised its head . A bit like we all do on a Monday morning before the coffee has had time to set in !
So now im so happy to say YES !! we can get on with the SPRING newsletter !!!
We are once again delighted to bring you news of what has been happening with the Donegal Community Garden Network , promoting and supporting all the community gardens in Donegal . This month aswell as general news and events we have a great guest article by our very own Sarah Louise Kernan , Sarah is our treasurer at the network and has been a great help in the running of events throughout the past year . Her article below on Growing Healthy Communities through Gardening is a great read and we are very thankful to have her input this month !
This newsletter is going out to ALL gardeners as well as garden REPS , so grab a cuppa and enjoy the read . NB please do let other gardeners know if they don’t receive this and would like a copy then we can email it them no problem – this is a voluntary organisation so all help getting the word out there is greatly appreciated !
Joanne Butler x
ChangerMakers Seeds Of Change
Donegal Community Garden Network were delighted this year to receive a grant from ChangeMakers Donegal to start a pilot seed saving project . We have already given out FREE seeds from @Seedsavers Ireland to community gardens who attended the Spring Networking event , but if you and your garden would like to take part and save seeds for this project please do let me know and we will get seeds and signs to you as soon as we can ! (NB Signs are going out to all partaking gardens shortly)
The seeds are heirloom seeds from @seedsavers Ireland and the idea is that you grow , don’t eat , and save the seeds for us ! Then in the Autumn we will provide seed saving training as part of our Autumn Networking event with the aim that all the seeds we save can be distributed around the community gardens in Donegal and grown on from there . This seed saving and distribution will ensure a county wide seed resilience that we can build up for future generations .
We do need helpers with this project when it comes to recording etc so if you would like to know more and help out , please do get in touch with us here .
Spring Networking Event
We had a wonderful Spring Networking event on Saturday 10th March at the @Twin Towns Community Garden . Thanks to Caroline and the team at Twin Towns for the welcome and the inspiring garden tour 🙂 We had over 25 people in attendance and 10 community gardens represented ! so well Done to all who attended and helped the network once again step closer to its over all mission :))
Thanks also to our great speakers @Miffy Hoad from Social Prescribing Donegal and Eugene Mc Gintly from NW Organics telling us about other groups out there that can connect in with community gardens and vice versa .
Recently , Joanne was invited by the Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens – Northern Ireland to talk about community gardens , the network and all the inspiring work she has seen over the last five years since being a community garden facilitator . The day was a great success with a lot of people in attendance . Talking all things green and showing a presentation of what you are all at and the success of the network so far ! – Lets hope this is the start of a wonderful cross border friendship that we can use in the future and perhaps even go visit some of the community gardens there 🙂
DCGN AGM & CGI AGM
What a lot of letters !! but before i loose you this is the AGM announcements for us the Donegal Community Garden Network and our National Community Gardens Ireland of whom we are a county member of . As a community garden and gardener you are welcome to attend any one or both of these events . The first one is the CGI Annual Gathering , held this year in @Cloughjordan Eco Village on May 27th . This Annual Gathering will be packed with information and inspiration to help you progress with your own projects. It will follow the annual Feeding Ourselves conference which takes place the day before and may be of interest to many CG Ireland members (details here).
With CG Ireland stories, networking sessions, an introduction and tour of the RED Gardens at Cloughjordan – the research gardens in the Ecovillage, and a special workshop on soil and citizen science, you’ll go home with a wealth of new knowledge, skills, friends and collaborators to help you launch into an exciting new gardening year.
The second AGM is our own annual gathering and it is to be held on Saturday 23rd June . Location is still to be decided and we are very open to suggestions . If YOU would like your garden to host us , please let us know ! All we need is room available indoors for aprox 30 people . We will do the rest and if a garden tour is available also then all the better ! Let me know if your garden is interested and we will get planning that soon .
We have some very exciting news to announce through the GROW Observatory which is a European project working with with Cultivate Ireland . They have selected Community Gardens Ireland as a ‘Community Champion’ in Ireland to increase the skills and knowledge of people to take soil observations and test sustainable growing practices. They have selected Donegal as one of the locations to develop a GROW place and using low cost soil sensors, are looking to collect data that can help validate climate prediction models from satellites. With access to on-line courses and educational resources the project will help people to understand and observe soil, and develop new skills that can contribute to the strengthening of resilience
in their own communities in the process.
Donegal Community Garden Network are currently working with CG Ireland and GROW Observatory mapping community gardens and growing places in Donegal within the distance needed for the project . All gardens and growing places selected will be contacted shortly and asked to participate in placing soil sensors within their gardens. This project will run for a year and a half and exciting events and talks will be planned throughout the GROW Places . The project aims to contribute to an emerging soil commons movement by helping us become more effective stewards of the land, better equipped to address science challenges and be more aware and connected to the living world around us.
Join GROWers from all over Europe for the largest ever #CitizenScience permaculture experiment!
Help find a three-sisters crop combination (polycultures) to improve the productivity of your plot and the health of your soil.
Will #GreenBeans #Radish and #Spinach do the job in Europe?
Our upcoming online course #GROWSoil2Food starts April 16th.
#Regen #RegenerativeAg #permaculture #agroecology #polyculture #hort #organic #horticulture #citsci
Summer Networking Event (Summer Bus Trip )
Yes …. soon we will be planning the BIG trip away . Were not sure where , where not sure when (well almost not sure as it will be like always in mid August ) but it will be AMAZING . We will incorporate this as a networking meeting also as that’s what were doing right ?
Watch the facebook page fore more details and we will let you all know via email when plans are finalised :))
And Finally …
Our SPRING Newsletter Article
Growing Healthy Communities through Gardening – with the help of DCGN!
By Sarah Louise Kernan
If you are currently already involved with a community garden, or indeed grow fruit,
vegetables or flowers with other people in your family or community; then you are likely
already VERY aware of the many benefits it can provide! Studies across the globe show
proven results that gardening increases our happiness, fitness and personal development;
and a quick search online will bring forth a deluge of articles, blogs and tips on how to
improve your life through growing in a garden…be it in a few simple pots on a window-sill or a full-blown kitchen garden.
Aside from learning how to propagate a seed; the types of skills, talents and abilities
enhanced by growing have important benefits that exceed the boundaries of the garden
Generational & Cultural Exchange:
The first time we decided to plant a seed, grow a cabbage, or beautify our own gardens; we likely each had in our minds-eye the memory of a certain person – be it a parent or
grandparent, neighbor or friend – whose flair and talent for growing in-turn inspired us to have a go ourselves. The stunningly glorious colors, textures and designs of their gardens made us gasp and their impressive memory-bank of plant names, their properties and how to care for them underpinned the knowledge, skill and experience they had cultivated over the years. On the one hand, to the green-beginner this can seem daunting; until we come to realise that it is through sharing and learning from others that we can unlock these abilities in ourselves.
Connecting both the younger folks in our communities with those older members enables and encourages meaningful shared experiences for all age groups.
Fond memories traditional gardening and growing practices through is a wonderful way to preserve these methods, but also to keep these important aspects of lore and history alive for future generations.
A garden is a space where the senses come alive; and the ancient practice of gardening is
alive and well in every imaginable global setting – from high in the mountains to deserts,
islands and forests. As we humans travel across the globe, we settle in new places, bringing our cultural understanding of the natural world with us. Gardening within our communities gives us the perfect forum in which to share these traditions and use the common language of growing to learn and appreciate each other.
Food Production & Nutritional Education
The rise of food intolerances, sensitivities to added chemicals and increased numbers of
diet-related illnesses in the world has meant that more and more people are taking note of what food they eat.
Questioning where our food comes from, how it is produced and what it actually contains leads many folks to consider growing their own produce.
Community gardens are at the heart of educating our communities about food security –
enabling physical and economical access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Many
community gardens also explore how to prepare and cook the food they have grown, inviting gardeners and visitors to each enjoy hearty, healthy meals together. Community gardening helps tackle issues surrounding food waste; both in exploring the reasons behind it and then looking at methods of reducing and indeed reusing waste in a variety of composting systems.
Conservation & Wildlife Protection
Of course, growing, cooking and sharing food is only a part of what makes a community
garden so fantastic! Green spaces in our communities are havens for our native fauna;
meaning that the protection and conservation of wildlife and promoting biodiversity by
gardening go hand-in- hand. Each garden helps to care for the 97 species of wild bee we
have here in Ireland, as well as providing food and shelter for wild birds, insects and
butterflies. Through Community Gardens sharing the knowledge that native and heritage
species of plants, shrubs and trees support more wildlife than non-native plants; our wider
communities learn how to ensure the natural flora and fauna of Ireland can survive.
Equality, Community Inclusivity & Organisation:
As a community gardener myself, I am truly blessed to have shared a spade with a wide
variety of fellow members of my town. Within these gardens the particulars of each person’s socio-economic background, their gender, age, sexuality, race, religion or beliefs are left at the gate and instead, we are all on an equal-footing.
Gardeners who are involved with other projects or initiatives in the community get to share these experiences as we turn the compost-heap; and we begin to see how a sense of identity, ownership, pride and respect for our area can be enriched through growing a
These are but a few examples and focus points on how beneficial a community garden can be; and you – dear readers are the true force behind this fantastic work!
The aim of our Network is to support and connect each Community Garden, Group and
Growing Collective in Donegal. We can provide help and information surrounding gardening tutors, networking opportunities, funding and resources and can be contacted via email at donegalCGN@gmail.com
That’s it for Now ….
We hope you have enjoyed this seasons Newsletter , Thanks again to Sarah for her wonderful article and to all the gardens that have supported and promoted us this past two years !! We hope to continue to do the same for you and look forward to seeing you all at a garden somewhere soon !!