Green-fingered Volunteers transform Community Beds


Green-fingered Volunteers transform Community Beds

There was great activity at the Hill Street Community Garden on Thursday evening last as a group of volunteers came together for an old-style meitheal. Garden Designer Betty Kehoe of Aisling Landscapes was on hand to coordinate the work effort. Betty is a huge fan of the ancient time-honoured meitheal way of getting through a big job in a short time.

The work involved the arduous task of preparing the raised beds and replanting them with a mix of bee-friendly flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit bushes. Betty chose a biodiversity-friendly range of mixed salads, swiss chard, beetroot, sweet corn, black currants, strawberries and various culinary herbs. As this is an organic garden which uses no nasty sprays she built companion planting into her planning whereby plants are chosen for the benefits they offer neighbouring plants. So, for example, she has marigolds among the food plants to offer a natural means of pest control. Compost for the beds will come from an onsite composting bay.

The work party included Wexford District Manager Angie Laffan. Since the idea of a community garden was first mooted last year following a meeting of community activists with GIY and the Council she said that it has proven to be a great way of bringing diverse local groups together for a common purpose. These include Wexford GIY, FDYS, Cornmarket Project, Ard Aoibhinn, Windmill TTU, FAB and Love Redmond Park. A key player in the project has been Wexford Working Men’s Shed. They designed and built the raised beds and have been pivotal in the ongoing maintenance of the garden. Ms Laffan said the Council is delighted with the success to date of the venture.

Wexford Chamber has been totally behind the project from the start. Its President, Niall Reck, and CEO, Enda Kavanagh, were among those digging and planting last week. This was the latter’s first active involvement with the project since taking up her new role. She said that she is delighted the Chamber continues to be involved with such a worthwhile community initiative. Mr Reck said that since first meeting Betty Kehoe many moons ago he has become a total gardening enthusiast.

Love Redmond Park spokesman Senan O’Reilly said that he loved the camaraderie  and shared sense of purpose among the various groups involved. “Visitors entering the park from Hill Street are surprised and delighted in equal measure when they come upon these beds bursting with colour. Indeed many see the community garden as being an adjunct to Redmond Park.”

A monthly meitheal will give volunteers an opportunity to check on the progress of the garden and to provide whatever maintenance is required to keep it in good order. A fruit garden is planned for October.

Last word to Betty Kehoe: “This garden shows what can be achieved in a small space by a willing group of volunteers. There is no reason it cannot be replicated in public spaces and housing estates all over Wexford. Let’s get growing!”