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Growing Together: International Fund for Ireland supports cross border organic gardening project in Cavan, Leitrim, and Fermanagh

Published on:  24 Oct 2008

Growing Together 2008-2010, a cross-border peace-building programme, was
officially launched today at the Market House in Blacklion, Co. Cavan. The
programme uses the medium of organic gardening to promote better community
relations in the border counties of Leitrim, Fermanagh and Cavan. The
programme is primarily funded by the International Fund for Ireland which
has contributed €362,192. The programme has also received generous support
from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; the County Leitrim
Partnership; and Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation.

Over 200 people from the age of eight to 73 years of age are involved in
the ‘Growing Together’ Programme. The gardens are located in two clusters,
one around the Fermanagh-Leitrim border and the other around the
Fermanagh-Cavan border. With the expertise of the Organic Centre in
Rossinver, Co Leitrim, the cross border ‘Growing Together’ 2008-2010
programme has developed into a thriving local network of women’s, schools’
and community organic gardens.

The Organic Centre in Leitrim has pioneered the use of gardening as a
medium for bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to enhance
their mutual understanding. From its inception, it has acted as a catalyst
to improve community relations.  The programme has three strands:
‘Sustainable Communities’  ‘Primary Schools’ and ‘Women’s Organic
Horticultural Training Project’

Speaking at the launch, John McDaid, Board Member International Fund for
Ireland, said: “We hope that the Growing Together programme will make a
very positive difference to the lives of the people of Leitrim, Cavan and
Fermanagh – three border counties which were prevented from fully
exploiting their true potential for many, many years due to the effects of
the Troubles.”

Andy Hallewell, project manager at The Organic Centre, said: One of the
most exciting elements of the programme is it’s focus on reconciliation and
peace building amongst participants.  In addition, “Making gardens close to
each other is part of the sustainability of the programme, for example, it
helps reduce the carbon footprint of our outreach gardeners. Once you talk
to someone else in the next village about what they’re growing you have the
makings of a local food network. These networks enable people to share
skills, knowledge, food and even recipes. The current economic climate
means more and more people are interested in growing their own food to
reduce cost. Cooking sessions are an important part of the programme in
helping people make the most of what they grow and getting the different
communities together in an informal, relaxed atmosphere.”

Peace Building is at the core of the IFI programme and according to Mr.
Hallewell, during the quieter winter months, the participants will be able
to converse with each other in greater depth about the issues and
challenges of living in the border counties in the early 21st century.

Gardens are located at Beleek, Co. Fermanagh twinned with Kinlough, Co
Leitrim; Belcoo, Co. Fermanagh twinned with Blacklion, Co. Cavan;  the
Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim; the Field Studies Centre,
Derrygonnelly, Co. Fermanagh; St. Martin’s Primary School, Garrison, Co.
Fermanagh; Belleek Controlled Primary School, Co. Fermanagh; St Patrick’s
National School, Blacklion, Co. Cavan; Kiltyclogher National School, Co.
Leitrim; Rossinver National School, Co. Leitrim; St Columban’s Primary
School, Belcoo, Co. Fermanagh; and Florencecourt Primary School, Co.

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