Foods from afar: Convent garden project brings migrants’ taste of home to Cork

The International Garden project hopes to create a ‘safe space’ for families to grow food from their own countries in solidarity with others living in the local community.
Foods from afar: Convent garden project brings migrants’ taste of home to Cork

Gardeners pictured at the launch of The International Garden Centreat Ardfoyle Convent, Ballintemple celebrate their first harvest.

Families from Direct Provision Centres, who work with Cork Migrant Centre, as well as Nano Nagle Place and Ukrainians in Cork are taking part in a new project at Ardfoyle Convent, Ballintemple.

The International Garden project hopes to create a ‘safe space’ for families to grow food from their own countries in solidarity with others living in the local community.

As a pilot project, it started with seven migrant families who played a key part in setting up the garden.

Gardeners pictured at the launch of The International Garden Centreat Ardfoyle Convent, Ballintemple celebrate their first harvest.
Gardeners pictured at the launch of The International Garden Centreat Ardfoyle Convent, Ballintemple celebrate their first harvest.

Whole families can participate in the garden activities, and this addresses the child-care barriers to participation in activities or learning which is a persistent barrier at the Cork Migrant Centre as it is in other settings. Also, it gives opportunities for children to learn by modelling their parents which is aligned with most cultures of the world. In this digital era of gardening/farming and technology, parents can also learn from their children and vice-versa. In this sense, the project hopes to nurture intergenerational learning.

The garden was set up earlier this year and the families have had two to three harvesting sessions for various food products. Bringing a taste of home to the table is definitely a key step in bridging the gap between their home countries and their adopted countries, towards integration.

The garden was set up in collaboration with partners and collaborators from various corporates and other organizations (SHEP, Ardfoyle College of Horticulture, Johnson Controls Cork, Remitly Cork, Green Spaces for Health, Community Garda, Cork City Council Social Inclusion office and UCC). Apple International Cork has just recently joined the partnership.

The working partners have been great not only in mobilizing resources for the garden (financial, human capital) for the migrant families but also in creating an enabling environment for building social networks, and for intercultural information exchange which is critical for creating level playing field opportunities.

It is envisaged that, with resources, the project can be rolled out to other settings near DP centres.

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