Food heroes in Cork who go the extra mile to promote healthy and sustainable practices have been honoured.

A hospital garden with links to a mental health service and a primary school which has built a geodome so it can harvest during the school term were among those presented with the top awards at the Cork Food Policy Council (CFPC) in City Hall.

Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald (FF) presented certificates of recognition to 37 applicants for their broad range of food-related projects in the education, not-for-profit, and commercial sectors.

Four were selected for certificates of excellence, supported by SuperValu:

  • The ‘Our Garden’ project at St Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital in the non-profit category;
  • Caroline Robinson’s chemical-free vegetables in the business category;
  • St Patrick’s NS, Skibbereen, in the schools category;
  • Kinsale College in the ‘other educational’ category.

The Our Garden project on the St Mary’s campus in Gurranabraher, is linked to the Aisling Nua day-service for the North Lee Mental Health Service. The project also works closely with City Links to provide a horticulture ecotherapy project that gives people with mental health issues access to a working garden.

The 222-pupil St Patrick’s NS designed a school garden two years ago and realised that many school gardens fail because they miss key harvesting months during the summer holidays.

They designed an organic garden with a geodome which gives the school control over the timing of the harvest. The school was also part of the West Cork Garden Trail 2017.

“This school garden is an inspiration to schools throughout the country. It is a model that is self-sufficient, has been entirely financed through fundraising, and could be replicated by other schools,” said the CFPC judges.

Caroline Robinson and her family, who grow vegetables on a farm near Cloughduv, were recognised for their commitment to chemical-free growing. They sell their produce at the Coal Quay market in Cork City on Saturdays, at the Tuesday market in Macroom, and they also supply restaurants and a small number of box orders for pickup at the farm gate. The family has also converted a nearby property to mainly deciduous forestry.

Kinsale College was honoured for its permaculture and sustainable horticulture course to QQI level five and six students, encouraging them to develop food-producing ecosystems and businesses.

CFPC chair Colin Sage, a lecturer at UCC and an international expert in food policy and food security, said they were delighted with the level of interest in this year’s scheme. “With one in 10 people in Cork experiencing food poverty, CFPC is working to improve our local food system to make it fairer and more sustainable,” he said.


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