County Carlow was represented at a major international gardening event held in Alexandroupolis, Greece last week. The event was organised through the Ru:rban programme which is part of the European Union’s Urbact initiative to build sustainable urban communities.

Ru:rban aims to utilise community gardens and allotments as a means of improving urban living throughout Europe. Carlow County Council is one of five partners on the Ru:rban programme, along with the City Councils of Algeciras in Spain, Split in Croatia, Alexandroupolis in Greece and the programme’s lead partner city Rome, Italy. Community gardens attract a wide cross-section of people across the entire socio-economic spectrum and include individuals who have little gardening experience as well as those who’ve been gardening for years, making them a great place to learn outside in a natural environment.

This two-day event included peer review and learning, case study presentations and training and guidance from international expert groups which explored and shared best practice around governance, management and development of Community Garden spaces. The Carlow delegation included both representatives of Carlow County Council, as the programme managers of Carlow’s involvement in Ru:rban, and community volunteers from Carlow who are involved in the development of local gardening initiatives.

The programme included training sessions and presentations from International best practice experts, presentations from each partner country to share ideas, workshops to examine current and new ideas, and a chance for the County Carlow garden volunteers to meet their European partners in a face-to-face environment to help increase capacity within County Carlow while building our network and inspiring and motivating local community groups to engage in and develop the many community gardens in the County.

Mayor of Carlow Municipal District Cllr. Fintan Phelan, said, “I was delighted to meet our partners from across Europe and support this new programme from Carlow County Council, which will help develop our community gardens around the County.” The Mayor continued to say, “Community Gardening is a healthy pastime that makes a valuable contribution to community development, positive social interaction, environmental awareness, and education. This sharing event was a great opportunity for Carlow to engage with our partners across Europe to network and share ideas around community gardening.”

An important and central element of the Ru:rban programme is the support each partner is given to implement their own policies to guide and develop community based gardening facilities within their respective areas. Carlow County Council is currently developing a “Carlow Community Gardens and Allotments Policy” as part of their contribution to the Ru:rban programme.

Séamus Doran, Assistant Head of Economic Development & Enterprise with Carlow County Council gave a presentation to all Ru:rban partners during the event outlining the consultation process that Carlow County Council has engaged in through the development of their draft policy and the key themes that have emerged from that consultation. Speaking after the event he said: “The recent event in Alexandropolis was a wonderful opportunity for us to meet with colleagues from throughout Europe and to learn from their experiences of developing community based garden facilities. We also took part in a number of site visits which showed us great examples of how community based organisations in Greece are using gardens to engage with and support a diverse range of local citizens including school goers, the retired, children with special educational needs and those with mental health problems. Those visits particularly gave the Carlow based garden volunteers who accompanied us a lot of inspiration as to how they could integrate some of these ideas into their own offerings in Carlow.”


Further info: Séamus Doran, Assistant Head of Economic Development & Enterprise 086-4109079