ON A bright, cool morning in Clashduv Park, the committee of Togher Community Garden were joined as they are every week by the senior infants class of the South Lee Educate Together National School, a small army of happy and hard-working volunteer gardeners.
From the garden’s polytunnel came a group of four children, holding at shoulder height a huge sheet of stinky, wet cardboard and making delighted “eewwww” noises as they wrestled it into a skippo bag.
Swarming over a large mound of topsoil, armed with small shovels, and supervised by their teachers, the junior horticulturalists got to work filling and refilling a wheelbarrow, and spreading earth along the inside of the park fence, where a hedge will soon be planted.
One pupil, six-year-old Otto Carson-Marbe, whose mother Jessica is an artist volunteering with the committee, posed patiently for photographs for The Echo, repeatedly loading his shovel obligingly.
The Togher Community Garden is barely two months in existence, but it already has had a huge impact on the area and its community, and, according to the volunteers who have created it, its impressive polytunnel and 18 raised planters are only the beginning.
Ray Horgan, chairperson of the community garden committee, told The Echo that there had already been a huge public reaction to the garden, and he was hopeful more people would get involved.
“We started in December, with over 60 people shifting 80 tonnes of topsoil, and there has been amazing co-operation between different groups in the community, which is great to see,” he said.
“The planters are the work of the Ballyphehane Men’s Shed, and the polytunnel came from Green Spaces for Health, and Maria Young from Green Spaces is part of our committee.”
Cork City Council gave the committee the space in Clashduv Park, and Mr Horgan said the Parks and Recreation staff had been very good to the project.
Maria Young, of Green Spaces for Health, said this was the first community garden planted for food in the city, and she was hopeful it wouldn’t be the last.
“We will have carrots, potatoes, all of the vegetable families, in the planters and in the polytunnel, and we’ve also planted apple trees, pear trees, and more,” Ms Young said.
Dave Cashman, principal at South Lee Educate Together, said one of the children from senior infants had told him earlier, in the playground, that they were bored playing and wanted to go to work in the garden.
“For us, it’s just an amazing experience for the children to be able to come here every week, and what they gain here will stand to them for life, with the empathy they learn from nurturing the environment being so important to them,” Mr Cashman said.
Ray Horgan said this will hopefully only be the beginning for the community garden.
“Our philosophy is that this garden is in the middle of the parish, it belongs to everyone, and we are saying to everyone ‘This is your place, so please come and join us’,” Mr Horgan said.
Maria Young said: “We can’t wait for summer, and all the good, healthy food we will have grown here, and we can’t wait to share it,” Ms Young said.
If you would like to get involved, contact Togher Community Garden at email@example.com.