Can you dig it?

Training garden start up in Ballinrobe

By Averil Staunton

I thought that allotment gardening was solely English.   However, in Ireland as far back as 200 hundred years ago, a patch of land approximately a quarter of an acre was divided from commonage and allocated to the poor under the “General Enclosure Act”.

Allotment growth in England began at the time of increasing industrialisation and population shift to cities.   The idea was that the urban working classes could learn to feed themselves cheaply and to keep the 'idle poor' busy (idle hands…. etc).  Allotment usage grew during two World Wars as no food could be imported with the most famous surge in allotment activity following Churchill's famous 'Dig for Victory' campaign during the Second World War.

In Ireland these small patches of ground, particularly in cities, helped during World War I when no food could be imported.    

However, it was said that in rural Ireland this was considered a benefit by the rich, as it was thought by the Landlords that the peasants could no longer graze their “filthy” animals on the now divided commonage.  It’s worth noting, however, that now “commonage” in Ireland, unlike England, is private property held jointly by a number of owners, usually farmers.

Fast forward

There has been a great increase in interest in allotment gardening over the past few years.   With the increase in Farmer’s Markets and many television programmes devoted to gardening and growing or starting your own garden/allotment more and more people are moving towards having their own patch.   Adding the concerns about all the additives and sprays that are used in food production, is it any wonder people are getting more diet, health and the environmentally conscious.  Being a member of an allotment group has the added benefit of group knowledge and usually having somebody around who would have the answer to some of those gardening queries.   Allotments members also have a range of skills and are usually of mixed genders and ages.

Ballinrobe Garden

A group in Ballinrobe associated with TACU, I believe, have started a new ‘Community Garden’ which will be both a training project and a drop in location to pick up a few tips on the correct way to ‘grow your own’.   Some raised beds are being organised for more senior visitors. As far as I know Canon Eustace has given a site for this project.

A professional gardener will be available for guidance to the trainees and we would like to hear more about this project over the next few months from those concerned.  Happy gardening!

Latest News

Following the success of the project see its launch by clicking on video clip below:

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Can you dig it?' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Can you dig it?' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Can you dig it?' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Can you dig it?' page
This page was added by Averil Staunton on 31/05/2011.
Comments about this page

A great title and article as well as a brilliant community project. Hope it all goes well.

By Lorna Elms
On 19/08/2011