Re-Start grows links with refugees through gardening initiative

Re-Start, a social enterprise created by Enactus University of Limerick (UL) students, is working to integrate refugees and asylum seekers into Irish society through a gardening initiative. It has partnered with Hanratty’s direct provision centre in Limerick and Knockalisheen direct provision centre, Co. Clare.

“In October, some of our team members visited two direct provision centres, one in Clare and one in Limerick. During this visit we conducted a needs assessment, which included gauging interest in gardening,” said Katie Coughlan and Una O’Sullivan of Re-Start.

Those managing the Knockalisheen direct provision centre have agreed to let us use the land at the centre to create a garden. This will enable individuals living in the centre to enhance their agricultural skills.

“In the future we hope to use the products grown in the gardens that can be sold from our stall at the Milk Market in Limerick,” they said.

Gathering Equipment

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done to get the land in shape so we would like to start this process as soon as we have gathered the necessary equipment. We will begin planting in March when the weather is more suitable. The harvest month depends on what we grow,” said Katie and Una.

Unfortunately, those living in direct provision are not allowed to grow anything that could possibly be cooked – this means we are prohibited from growing vegetables. So we plan to grow fruits and also explore other international seeds from the asylum seekers.

Re-Start is currently trying to source equipment to begin the gardening process and is open to any advice and/or donations of gardening supplies.

“Any donations would really help speed up the process. However, participants in this project are willing to start working with their hands in the meantime,” Katie said.

“The Limerick and Clare education and training board recently reached out to us, offering to provide horticulture/gardening classes,” Katie said.

“We will cater for as many refugees and asylum seekers as would like to join the project,” she said. “Hopefully, the garden will be a permanent fixture at Knockalisheen.

It is hard to say the exact skill level. However, we do know that some of the people living in the direct provision centres used to depend on farming for a living.

“In addition to Re-Start, another project at Enactus UL – Moyo-Nua – is also agriculturally focused. We plan to have a project crossover by collaborating at the garden in Knockalisheen,” said Katie.

“A planting device developed by Moyo-Nua will be piloted at the Re-Start garden, in March, when we begin planting seeds. This collaboration will make the planting process easier and more efficient for the refugees and asylum seekers who are participating,” she said.

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