The Bayside Community Orchard is a community-led initiative through which a small, little-used green area in the middle of a housing estate in Bayside, Dublin 13 was transformed into a wonderful amenity for the local community, providing seasonal produce, food for pollinators and a beautiful vista. 

This was made possible through the effort of volunteers, local fundraising, and support from Fingal County Council.

This project started in 2019 (initiated by some pillars of the local community, especially Brendan Cairney) and I have been helping out with some aspects of the gardening and maintenance for just over a year. 

Coming into this with little gardening knowledge and no experience of growing produce, I have learnt much in this time and greatly enjoyed the experience. Indeed, working at the Orchard has been one of the highlights of the past year and it has been a great relief from the monotony of the pandemic lockdown. 

Some of the aspects I have learnt about include low-tillage crop growth, potager (intermingling of vegetables, fruits and flowers), and the importance of pollinators. I am still a novice in all matters relating to gardening, but I am eager to learn more!

Volunteers pitch in every week at the Orchard with diverse tasks including sowing, weeding, harvesting, watering, digging, etc.

The work varies greatly depending on the time of year and the produce in season. People from all skill levels and age groups contribute, there is something for everyone to do, and the work brings the community together.

This year we have had some fantastic crops including leafy winter greens; raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries and currants (red, white and black) in the summer months; delicious broad beans and runner beans; a constant source of herbs; and there is a bounty of apples and blackberries on the horizon! 

Watching these grow, from seed to crop, is a very rewarding experience for those involved and is also educational in terms of seeing the resources and effort that goes into making food. 

Following on from my work in the Orchard, I have started trying to grow produce and pollinator-friendly plants in my own (very small) garden!

Fellow volunteer Christian (L) and Niall (R)

For more tips and articles on growing and composting, check out our Grow With Us page.

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