Greens propose to expand access to Community Gardens
Community Gardens should be made more accessible to communities across the country and Green Party T.D. for Waterford, Marc Ó Cathasaigh has today launched a Private Members’ Bill to help expand their provision by local authorities.
The bill sets out that local authorities must prepare and publish a community gardens policy on the development, allocation, and use of community gardens within their administrative area. Members of a local community will be able to apply to their local authority to let and use a community garden and the local authority will maintain a waiting list of applicants in order to offer the next available community garden space to those interested.
Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said at the launch;
“Anyone who has had the experience of working in a community garden understands the social, cultural, educational and health benefits it can bring. As our urban population grows, urban green spaces and community growing spaces will become even more important.”
The Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss recognises that “urban environments have an enormous role to play in the conservation and restoration of biodiversity” and the value of green spaces to populations living in urban environments. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted urban agriculture initiatives such as community gardening as a contributor to reducing greenhouse gasses. The co-benefits of community growing spaces stretch well beyond tackling global warming and biodiversity loss. They include educational, cultural, and physical, mental and social health benefits.
Green Party Minister Pippa Hackett, launched the National Strategy for Horticulture 2023 - 2027 earlier this year and the value of community gardens is recognised within it. It has a clear action to “work with local authorities to implement and support community gardens and allotments to encourage enthusiasm for gardening / growing and promote fresh produce consumption and healthy eating”.
Research from Community Gardens Ireland, a volunteer network of over 100 community growing spaces, shows that 23% of local authorities do not have a policy or objective for community growing space and 89% do not operate a waiting list for members of a local community requesting a community growing space. Ireland lags behind other countries in the management and support of community growing spaces, offering far less plots per capita than our EU counterparts. It is hoped that this Private Member’s Bill will address that deficit and provide consistency in the provision of community gardens for communities throughout the country.