Mid Ulster’s annual Allotments Gathering took place on Thursday past bringing together almost 50 local allotment holders and community gardeners from numerous groups across the district.
The event, which was jointly organised by Mid Ulster District Council and The Conservation Volunteers, took place at the Nunnery Hill Community Garden at Dungannon Park.
The gathering allowed allotment holders and community gardeners to network and share ideas and experiences and to learn from one another while at the same time celebrating and showcasing their plots.
Representatives from the Vineyard Church Foodbank, Dungannon also took part in the morning and were presented with a colourful range of freshly grown vegetables. It is hoped that this will mark the beginning of a new allotments project which will explore the tremendous potential for allotments to start growing fresh, seasonal produce for their local foodbank and also for interested foodbank users to get involved in gardening/food-growing activities at a number of Mid Ulster’s allotments sites.
Informative workshops took place during the morning on Pickles and Preserve making by Amberline Preserves, Straw Craft by Paul and Norah Carville from Strawcraft Ireland and Seed Saving by Lynne Smyth from GIY North Tyrone.
Competitions also took place throughout the event for various categories including ‘Afternoon Tea at the Allotments’, ‘Home-grown Basics for the Local Foodbank’ (it was this produce which was donated to the local foodbank), ‘Surprise Us!’ (anything plot holders had grown/made from their produce this year), and ‘Your Favourite Gardening Photo’.
Winning groups were presented their prize rosettes by the Chair of the Council, Councillor Kim Ashton.
The afternoon closed with a seasonal Allotments Lunch prepared with local produce by Tullylagan Event Caterers.
Councillor Kim Ashton, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, commended the event: “Projects like this empower people by teaching them new skills, and increase their confidence in growing their own food, as well as improving access to locally grown fresh and healthy food. Spending more time outdoors, being physically active and establishing new friendships and social networks is also good for body and mind.
“In the past year, the networking between many of the groups that attended our last allotments gathering has increased and many of you took part in the in the various training and support sessions. I’d like to thank the Conservation Volunteers for their support in developing a strong and successful partnership, which has enabled us to combine our resources and support the community food growing sector in an innovative and practical way.”
Debbie Adams, TCV Regional Director said; "This year’s allotment event was fantastic. It was great to see so many people in the Mid Ulster area getting together to celebrate and share their amazing allotment produce. TCV are delighted to work in partnership with Mid Ulster Council to support this gathering, bringing together our skills and the talents from across the local communities. The standard and variety of fresh produce on display was amazing, a true credit to the energy and motivation of everyone involved."
For more information or to find out about future events contact Yvonne Zellmann on 03000 132 132 or email [email protected].