Growing community spirit at Ballymagowan allotments
This is National Allotments Week, and to mark it we spoke to some of the people who work and volunteer in the community allotments at Ballymagowan Park in Derry~Londonderry.
First opened in 2015, the Ballymagowan allotments sit on a hill overlooking the residential streets of Creggan and across the city below. Over the last four years, they have become a real community asset for local people and those from across the city.
Managed on a day to day basis by Triax Neighbourhood Management Team on behalf of Apex, there are 65 allotments in total, with the majority being used by individuals from the local community. Some are also being utilised to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for Foyle Foodbank and Apex’s Social Supermarket to help those in food poverty.
Catherine Lusby from Apex Housing Association organises the ‘Garden Club’ once a week in the allotments to promote an interest in horticulture and organic produce and to improve the physical and mental health amongst those participating.
Every week, we spend an hour in our allotment. We learn about planting, harvesting, pest control and succession planting. The majority of members are novices, including me, so we are sometimes at the stage of identifying what is a plant and what is a weed! Members are rewarded with fresh organic fruit and vegetables to take home, with any extra produce going to Apex’s social supermarket.
One Garden Club member commented:
The allotments are brilliant. I walk twenty five minutes to the allotment and then work for an hour – including a coffee and cake break – and walk home. I get exercise, a chat with friends and fantastic organic produce. Today we weeded our allotment and harvested peas, kale, beetroot and tomatoes!
Danny McDonagh from Triax Neighbourhood Management Team works to manage the allotments on a day-to-day basis and says the allotments are about enjoyment not employment.
The atmosphere and comradeship at these allotments is fantastic. It’s a pleasure to be able to assist local people to grow their own fruit and vegetables. The good thing about having an allotment is you can make it as physical or relaxing as you like.