There is a growing movement (pun intended) in urban areas to transform green plots with fruit trees, vegetable patches, herb baskets and nut bushes.
Seattle has plans to create the first edible forest and on a smaller scale Abbeyleix Tidy Towns has planted baskets of herbs and created an edible landscape including a community garden containing fruit trees and bushes.
We asked a number of keen gardeners who are growing their own food if they would like to see Mullingar’s public spaces planted with edibles and what advice they would offer people who would like to grow food at home.
Susan Bray is the co-ordinator in Mullingar Congress Centre and has a vegetable plot, with yellow mange-tout, peas, scallions, lettuce, rocket, potatoes, spinach, cabbage and lots of herbs.
“It would be wonderful to see our parks planted with fruit trees. I was in England at a wedding and the public park was filled with peach trees and people were picking them and eating them as they walked through. It would be wonderful if the council were planting for birds, bees and maybe, herbs, fruit and nut bushes. It would be a great thing. It would be nice to see them planting fruit trees for the future too.
“We go foraging in autumn and gather wild berries for making jam. We collect blackberries, apples and even in the summer I would collect and dry honeysuckle flowers to make a remedy for sore throats.”
Anna Browne, (photo, below with glasses) an IT trainer from Maynooth, describes herself as an obsessive gardener who would like to see the council lead by example by planting nut and fruit trees.
“I always say to people who are thinking of starting to grow their own food; start with fruit, it is much less work. So why not put fruit and nut trees into public areas. Maynooth has the most magnificent apple trees.
“Fruit trees and bushes are pretty all year round, their flowers are pretty and the fruit is pretty, redcurrants look like jewels and at this time of year people could be enjoying plums, cherries, raspberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, redcurrants.”
Ally O’Flynn (photo below with plants) has just started to build her garden for next year and for the first time is planting fruit and vegetables.
“I have decided to grow my own food because I have already committed to buying organic veg and fruit for the children, but it is expensive and you nearly have to buy it daily. If I grow my own, the kids will eat well, they will see where the food is coming from and hopefully down the line we will also have chickens and bees. This is the way things are going; people are once more interested in where their food comes from, they want to trust it is safe and they want to be self-sufficient.
“I think we are going to see this more and more and it would great to see container gardening in our public spaces. It would show people what they could do at home. Maybe a big herb wheel as a centrepiece in the town park with information about each plant – that would be incredible.
“I read about a community that came together and created a garden and they approached a restaurant and in return for a fresh supply of salad, the gardeners got a discount. Isn’t that a lovely way to do things?”
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