The lack of allotments and community gardens on the island of Ireland was highlighted recently, at a meeting of community growers in Co. Carlow.

The gathering emphasised the role that growing our own food plays in helping adapt to climate change and in reducing biodiversity loss.

The event, organised by Community Gardens Ireland and Social Farms & Gardens Northern Ireland, took place in An Gairdín Beo, a community garden based in the centre of Carlow, and the Delta Sensory Gardens, also in Carlow.

It was attended by over 30 community growers from all over the island of Ireland and was for a project called Growing Resilience Across Ireland (GRÁ Ireland), funded through the Community Foundation for Ireland.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that urban agriculture initiatives, such as community gardening, assist with reducing greenhouse gases, boosting urban food security, improving biodiversity and adapting to climate change impacts.

The Scottish government has highlighted the reduction in carbon emissions from community growing, with estimates of between 2kg and 5kg of carbon equivalent for every kilogram of vegetable produced.

Community growing spaces also help contribute towards the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, including good health and wellbeing, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production, the meeting stressed.

Community growing

Chairperson of Community Gardens Ireland, Dónal McCormack, said that despite the robust evidence presented by the IPCC, growing your own produce at home or in an allotment or community garden is not recognised as an adaptation action by either the current climate change plan or national biodiversity action plan.

“There are currently fewer allotments and community gardens in Ireland than 100 years ago,” he said.

Social Farms & Gardens Northern Ireland manager, Patricia Wallace, said that the current Northern Ireland climate change adaptation programme does not detail community growing as an adaptation action.

“Ireland and Northern Ireland currently offers one of the fewest number of allotments and community gardens throughout Europe,” she said.

Community Gardens Ireland and Social Farms & Gardens Northern Ireland are together calling for governments and politicians, north and south, to recognise the benefits these actions provide for the climate, biodiversity, and increase the number of spaces for this throughout the island of Ireland.