On Saturday the 16th of September 2017 Bridgefoot Street Community Garden hosted an open day, and end of season Harvest. Craig Benton from Stop Food Waste was on hand to demonstrate how to compost effectively, from 10 am onward. Initially the attendees were volunteers with The Young Friends of the Earth Environmental Group.These were soon joined by Bridgefoot Street Community Gardeners, and also other gardeners from further afield. Specifically Brookfield Community Garden and Friarstown Allotments in South Dublin.

Those in attendance formed into different groups to help with the gardening, and to assist Craig with the construction of a pallet composter. The gardening saw a good deal of weeding which provided green waste for the new compost facility. We also dug a heavy crop of potatoes which comprised of a few different but now forgotten varieties. These were cleaned by Bob and Roisin before being taken away by wheelbarrow to Tony O'Rourke's Cafe. Here they were cooked before being brought back to the garden. Served with butter, grated cheese, and spring onion, they made for a healthy and filling lunch for very hungry gardeners. Unfortunately despite our hunger we barely made a dent in the three pots of cooked potatoes, such was the volume that were harvested.

After lunch Craig then led a workshop on how to set up a wormery. The weather also began to change in the afternoon as rain closed in. Earlier in the morning we had a mild calm day of Altostratus masking a watery sun above Bridgefoot Street. The sun then disappeared from around 2 pm in the afternoon as rain moved in and settled persistently beneath a dismal Nimbostratus afternoon. However it was pleasant early autumn gardening all morning, and well into the afternoon, with mild cloudy sunshine.

Stop Food Waste have written a guide describing the different methods of composting waste material, and helping you to save money on waste charges. You can download your own household guide here https://we.tl/2015M1mktz

Now occupied by a vibrant inner city community garden the site for the future Bridgefoot Street Park is still colloquially called the dump by some Liberties Residents. Perhaps because this site once provided Dublin with its municipal dump back in the 18th century. Since then the area has become one of the most high density areas of population within Dublin. While there is no shortage of tourist attractions, shops, and historical interest within this area, there is also a noticeable lack of any green space. The average Liberties resident has 0.7 square metres of green space, whilst residents of Dublin 4 and Dublin 6 have 15 square metres! The World Health Organisation recommends 9 square metres of green space per city resident.

For this reason the Bridgefoot Street Community Garden, which currently grows upon the southern end of the site chosen for the future Bridgefoot Street Park, is all the more welcoming for residents, workers, and tourists who want to take a break from the traffic and concrete that lie all around. Since March 2015 when the garden was first created, Bridgefoot Street Community Garden has provided a quiet and lovely oasis in which to garden, relax, and socialise. Located within the Liberties, in Dublin’s South City Centre, the garden is a short stroll from Thomas Street, NCAD, and the Guinness Storehouse. Because of the proximity to many destination attractions the garden has hosted plenty of visitors from other countries who arrive in Dublin on holiday. Over the course of a few brief years we have hosted visitors from Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and other European Countries. In common with the mix of visitors to the city, tourists from as far away as America, Australia, and New Zealand have also dropped in on gardening sessions for a chat and sometimes to help out with the weeding and digging.

Bridgefoot Street Community Garden is the only amenity in this part of town in terms of a freely accessible site where people can regularly engage in gardening activity if they don’t own their own garden or have access to an allotment. For this reason participation by local community groups has also been very positive and is increasing. Because of the garden’s central location, it’s visibility, and it’s relatively large size the garden has also been utilised for more formal gardening events by different groups. These consist not only of various local community groups, but also commercial organisations wanting to provide their staff with an enjoyable day of volunteer work mixed with the chance to pick up horticultural skills.

The following groups and organisations have taken part in Community Garden Activities at Bridgefoot Street Community Garden since it opened in 2015:

• Dublin Mens Shed Group
• Diageo • We Share Dublin
• Young Friends of the Earth • The RECDP After School Club
• Sundial House • Saint Audoens National School
• Google • Navan Road Scouts Troop
• Work Day • Mendicity Kids Club • An Taisce Environmental Education

The strength of the community garden at Bridgefoot Street lies in it being a large amenity that multiple organisations and groups can use for activities, without having to invest in the long term organisation of the site or community garden themselves. These groups might not otherwise have the capacity to manage their own community or school garden.

Dublin City Council has already identified the need for greening the Liberties in its “greening strategy”, and a new park is planned for creation on this site some time in 2018. To deliver on this strategy notice has now been given for the proposed construction by Dublin City Council of a public park with play facilities upon the wider site that includes Bridgefoot Street Community Garden.

While Bridgefoot Street Community Garden and allotment users are supportive of the plan to include both a community garden and allotment within the planned future park they are also concerned that the future park plan involves moving the garden from the south eastern corner of the site to a more southerly aspect. This will impart a great deal of disruption to the now established community garden which has taken 2-3 years to establish, and which would in effect have to be rebuilt in terms of community buy in, as well as re-establishing the horticultural work already completed.

In response to the Part 8 site notice for the proposed park plan, Bridgefoot Street Community Garden held an open evening on Tuesday the 8th of August this year. This informed the garden users, residents, and allotment plot holders about the proposed park development on the site, and collected submission comments. These comments have been submitted along with the request to maintain the community garden within the wider Bridgefoot Street Park, while the new park is constructed around it. The collected comments also raised the point that the Bridgefoot Street Park Site has become a haven for biodiversity since it has been unused for so long, and has been re-colonised by wildflowers, Insects and Birdlife. Maintaining the community garden and allotment plots in-situ while the park is developed would also help to mitigate against the disturbance of this biodiversity.

Bridgefoot Street Community Garden and Allotments are an important green space located within the Liberties, Dublin 8. The community garden is also surrounded by a number of urban bee hives, and is an important feeding site for the local Honey Bees, and other insect pollinators.

The results of the Part 8 stage of the planning process for the new Bridgefoot Street Park are yet to be revealed, but it is to be hoped that this community garden can continue to be open to all without interruption, and without the loss of so much hard work which has been put into the site by so many people.

News Source Name: 
Robert Moss