Ballybeg Horticulture Initiative

Ballybeg, Co. Waterford

The Ballybeg Community Development Programme started in 1991. In 2009, it established the Ballybeg Horticulture Initiative, which provides a FETAC level 4 certificate in horticulture. The 36 week course offers a wide range of skills in both horticulture and personal development with a mix of class work and practical work outdoors. Modules include communication, plant care and maintenance, maths, food and nutrition, organic food production, computers, personal effectiveness and work experience. The course provides many benefits for the participants. It is a starter for those who wish to go back to education and a grounding for those who want to set up their own business.

The course takes place in the community context and the participants have been involved in working on the memorial garden in Ballybeg Park, which was a community project left unfinished. The participants drafted up plans for the garden that enhanced both the growing conditions and biodiversity. The group has also worked on the entrance to community centre, planting raised beds and creating a pathway for pedestrians. These areas have been vastly enhanced and are enjoyed by the people on the course, others in the community centre and the wider community as a whole.

The course links in with the wider Community Development Programme and the community in general. For example, group participants have worked with the local crèche and community centre, and have set up a community garden. The group is actively trying to increase biodiversity in the area and has a composting facility that takes food waste from the local crèche and parish centre. The group planted fruit trees at the back of the crèche.

The course has been very successful so far and there is significant interest in the course year on year. It is hoped to develop the course to a FETAC level 5 as well as Level 4 in the future that will allow participants to go onto third level education. The Community Development Programme is setting up a community garden and an allotments systems for those interested in local food production that cannot sign up to the course. The knowledge and skills acquired by the participants will be of great help to other people starting out growing.

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