Community gardens have been in full swing since early March: preparing soil, sowing seeds and having a great auld time setting up for summer.
What a great start we have had, weather-wise, and if this continues we are in for a treat this growing season in Donegal.
In Dunfanaghy, participants at the community garden at the local family resource centre have been attending weekly classes on Mondays, planning the vegetable garden from the ground up quite literally, and choosing vegetable varieties that are best suited to the landscape and soil in the area.
As of yet, Dunfanaghy community gardeners are growing completely outdoors, with no polytunnel to run to if the rain breaks out -- of course, I’m not including the lovely warm building, where we have our tea and biscuits.
But we have been lucky, and the salads and summer cabbages will be ready to harvest in the next few weeks.
The community garden at St Conal’s in Letterkenny now has more than 20 participants from Cara House attending and taking part on a weekly basis. I pop in every fortnight on a Tuesday to give a few garden pointers and make sure the garden is growing along nicely. We have a small tunnel that is brimming with salad leaves and the gardeners tend to their own plots with meticulous enthusiasm.
During the month of June we will be planning our summer garden party, and the work of transplanting will be in full swing.
In Falcarragh, at the community Gardín Pobail in the Yard, we have had everything on our side. With the sheltered location and the heat in the polytunnel, we are now eating away at the salads and kale that have grown there.
We have even kicked off our first-ever community garden enterprise, providing leaves and vegetables to a local restaurant in Falcarragh. Since April we have been meeting fortnightly on Wednesdays, and will be busy with successive sowings to make sure we can provide as much fresh, local and totally naturally grown produce as we can.
At Ionad Naomh Pádraig in Dore, the community gardeners have been flat out starting their brand new vegetable plot. Again, it’s early days here, but we have come on in leaps and bounds. Gardeners have been preparing the soil with seaweed, and have planted out the peas and made cold frames from reused materials.
Community gardeners in Dore meet once a week on a Thursday morning, where you can be sure of a warm welcome, a garden chat and a cuppa tae.
If you would like to join any of the community gardens or donate any garden materials, get in touch with Joanne on 0861789971 or at OURganic Gardens on Facebook.
Joanne Butler is a gardener based in Cashel Na gCorr, near Gort an Choirce. She will be writing a monthly column for the Democrat on the community gardens she facilitates.