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01st Sep 2019

Last day at Electric Picnic: Do something for the soul and meet the people saving our bees and pollinators

Louise Carroll

Still struggling with the constant ringing in your ears thanks to the all-round epic lineup over the weekend? Us too!

Walk it off with a stroll over to Global Green, friends. It’s Electric Picnic’s pop-up eco-village where individuals and groups with oodles of green ideas gather to share their skills, thoughts, goals and more.

One of these groups is Community Gardens Ireland and among the activists, artists, musicians and foodie fanatics within the green hub (be sure to get yourself a delish coffee), it’s well worth popping over to them for a chat and checking out what green ways of living you can bring home with you. What they do is pretty amazing.

They’ve created a culture that promotes conservation, preservation and community. Literally, you couldn’t not be happy implementing this in your own area at home.

Martina Finn, a member of Community Gardens Ireland tells us that no matter how big or small a space we have at home, we can still help out our pollinators (bees, butterflies and the likes) by planting in pots outside the door, adding flower baskets to our window sills and so on.

“Outside we can grow wildflowers, native wildflowers, trees, shrubs, as well as fruits and vegetables. They’re all food for the pollinators.”

To make our own, Martina says, “use the waste from your vegetables, paper, cardboard, vegetables, flowerings, clippings, grass — with all of that you can make your own compost and fill your own pods. You can also buy organic compost from reliable sources.”

She puts a particular emphasis on ‘organic’ because this is key to having healthy soil without harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment and our pollinator friends.

If you think it might be too difficult to help out pollinators, if you’ve no space at home or if you live in a concrete jungle, this crew (and others) proves anything can be done to help give nature a boost.

Take Third Space Galway for example, who Martina is also working with. It’s a participatory arts project where people work together through community actions, exchanging ideas and implementing a food-growing urban agriculture initiative.

“Artists were concerned and so they approached the city council looking for a piece of land to showcase what can be done and to invite people to join,” says Martina.

“We’re importing something like 75 per cent of our apples, but we can grow so many apples here ourselves. And so we were looking for the land to have this conversation, to use it as a cultural creative platform and a permaculture platform.”

Permaculture is the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient. We like it!

The group even approached Tidy Towns and reiterated the importance of the above, having even more locals jump on board and together they created permaculture by the diversity trail along Galway city’s canal. Essentially, it’s people growing their own food in the heart of the city.

And now we’re feeling exceptionally inspired to set up our own food-growing communities or joining one already nearby!

Dee Sewell, a founding member and Vice Chair of Community Gardens Ireland says:

“A community garden is a shared space where people come together as a group and they work together and then they share the produce. There’s something for everyone and there’s an experience — if you’re a complete beginner, there’s going to be people there who can help you.

“There’s also no community garden alike. One could be open one day a week, another could be open seven.”

In terms of figuring out how and where to set up a community garden in your own area, Dee says:

“It all depends — land could be from a local religious order, the county council, from a family resource centre, it could come privately.”

“Most community gardens are looking for people to join, they’re very welcoming of people. The first thing you’ll probably be offered is a cup of tea and slice of cake. The social aspect is just as important as gardening.”

Cake? Tea? Saving our beautiful pollinators and the planet? Count us in!