Giving back through gardening

Born in Manchester to Irish parents, John moved to Dublin some 30 years ago. After a long career working in building and land investigation, John retired in 2012 and shortly after found his way to the Clondalkin office of South Dublin County Volunteer Centre.

John's motivation, like many people, was in his view a simple one.  He had time on his hands and felt that it would be good to find out whether there would be something he could do in his community. After considering all the options, there was one opportunity that stood out for John.  As a keen gardener, he was interested to find out more about Clondalkin Global Garden.

The Global Garden is an initiative of South Dublin County Council Social Inclusion Unit and was established to provide a space for members of migrant communities and Irish communities to work in partnership on the establishment of a community garden. The aims of the Garden are to:

  • Provide opportunities for people at risk of exclusion, a social outlet, new learning experiences, physical activity, protecting mental health, building enthusiasm and self-esteem
  • Encourage major health benefits from growing and cooking your own vegetables, starting and finishing a project, teamwork, nurturing and supporting others
  • An opportunity for mixing diverse ages and backgrounds leading to interesting conversation and sharing of experiences
  • Give people the space to remember their abilities and develop new skills

John describes the Garden as a “little oasis”, a piece of land within Corkagh Park which has become a hub of activity for its committed group of volunteers.  

When John started in 2013, the initial work involved clearing the site, and creating individual plots that volunteers could cultivate according to their own interests to reflect the “global” aim of the garden. Three years later and the garden has produced everything from elderberries to beetroot. Alongside his work on an individual plot, John is involved in communal projects within the garden including creating and maintaining hedging and pathways. With a passion for recycling, the volunteers at the garden make use of anything they can lay their hands on and they recently used old election posters to reinforce their fence!

The group also hold weekly meetings at Clondalkin Intercultural Centre to plan their work (and on a nice day they relocate the meeting to the garden).  John particularly values this part of the volunteering as it’s an opportunity to catch up with fellow volunteers, many of whom are originally from other countries.  

The Garden has become a big part of life for John and in the three years he has been volunteering there, he is now the main point of contact for any new volunteers wanting to get involved and he also serves as treasurer for the garden – although funds are scarce.

John wouldn't be without the Garden and spends most days there.  Like many people, John feels that he gets as much out of his volunteering as he puts in.  

Keep up the good work John!

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