The final touches are being put to a new community garden on the grounds of the Fermoy Community Resource Centre on MacCurtain Street. The impressive garden will be open and accessible to all members of the community, young and old.
Over the past 27 years, the board of management at the centre have continued to identify and respond to needs within the community, and in early 2015, research was carried by Jacinta McCormack, community health worker and a 4th year student from UCC in relation to developing a community garden space.
During the research phase of the project, they spoke with a number of local community groups in relation to collaborating skills and abilities and working together towards planning and developing a sustainable community garden within the grounds of the Fermoy Community Resource Centre.
The research findings were presented to the board of management of the Resource Centre and the advisory group of the Fermoy Community Health Project. Jacinta told The Avondhu: “Following this meeting a plan was agreed to develop a sustainable community garden space within the grounds of the Fermoy Community Resource Centre for use by members of the local community.
“It can also be used by the children currently attending the in-house playschool (Jolly Tots) and other service users within the resource centre to assist with their social, emotional and physical development. The community garden will provide a green space within our community where young and old can work alongside each other, learn from each other and enjoy gardening.
“It will be a multi-functional garden and long term, will provide the opportunity to teach; in particular the younger members of community where food comes from. It also has the potential to become a focal point for creating environmental educational awareness as we hope to create on-site composting and rainwater harvesting,” she said.
In March 2015, planning commenced in relation to phase 1 of the project. This involved clearing the tress and overgrown shrubbery in the front and rear gardens. This work was completed in May 2015 courtesy of Liam Barry & Staff, BH Tree Services and Brendan Buckley and staff of Tree Fields Nursery Ltd.
Phase 2 of the project involved the repair work to the archway and stone walls which would provide the backdrop to the new community garden. This work was completed by Avondhu Blackwater Partnership TUS participants, under the direction of supervisor Vincent O’Brien. The plastering of the boundary walls in the front courtyard was carried out by JJ O’Connor, a participant of Fermoy Image/Avondhu Tourism Development Limited. In August 2016, phase 3 commenced, this work was carried out by Brendan Buckley, Tree Fields Nursery Ltd and Peter Cullen, Longfield Landscapes.
This phase involved lifting the existing paving slabs and kerbing and removal from site; supply and installation of brick paving surfacing to courtyard and installation of sleepers and topsoil to planting bed; installation of electrical ducting for lighting, including the supply of lights to courtyard and remembrance tree and the installation of fencing to the rear of the remembrance tree. Provision was also made for four wooden benches and for a water feature.
Financial assistance towards the community garden project to date has come through a number of sources. Once-off funding was granted from the HSE South Community Work Department and the Board of Management of the resource centre. Cork County Council amenity grants were also secured for elements of the work. Thanks to these funding source, approximately 65 per cent of the total spend to date on the project will be covered.
A shortfall remains and additional funding is needed to cover the remaining costs associated with completing this current phase of the garden project. Jacinta commented: “To date we have been very fortunate with once-off funding and a number of personal donations being made to the project.” She went on to say that the committee are currently looking at fundraising events and sponsorship initiatives. Details of these events will be on the Fermoy Community Resource Centre Facebook page and website and on the pages of The Avondhu.
“A remembrance tree has been planted in the community garden and it is hoped that this remembrance tree will be used for a variety of events throughout the year. One event that is currently being planned is ‘Lights of Love’ Over the Christmas season the lights will shine brightly in memory of a loved one. Further details to follow.”
Now that phase 3 of the works is complete, Jacinta said an appropriate management structure will be necessary to ensure the ongoing continuity and sustainability of the community garden project. The formation of a community garden sub-committee will comprise of interested parties with a background in horticulture.
She thanked everyone who has been involved to date with the project. Jacinta said that it is proven that a community garden fosters the development of a community identity and spirit that brings people together from a wide variety of backgrounds (age, race, culture, social class). There is a community health dividend through participation by increased exercise and access to fresh vegetables and some groups may benefit from what is termed ‘horticultural therapy’ more than others.
If you are interested in finding out more or would like to get involved in this community garden project, please contact Jacinta McCormack, community health worker on 085 8742320 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org