Locals dig in as town opens allotment scheme

Emily Heffernan giving her mum Stephanie a helping hand at their Regional Park allotment in Ballincollig, Co Cork. Pic: Des Barry.

People have started digging in after the first publicly developed allotment scheme in Cork was officially opened at the weekend.

All 80 plots in the Regional Park Allotments Scheme in Ballincollig have been assigned to ‘grow-your-own’ enthusiasts.

Such is the demand for plots, a waiting list has been set up.

County Mayor Noel O’Connor said the demand shows that similar public allotment schemes would work around the county. “There was a concern that maybe the ‘grow-your-own’ craze had passed,” he said.

“But the demand for plots in this scheme proves that is not the case.

“I would like to see the county council develop other public allotments around the country and I have no doubt that the Ballincollig project will act as the template.”

Plans for the allotment scheme were first mooted in the Regional Park masterplan drafted by the Divisional Services (South) section of Cork County Council in 2012. Despite initial opposition from an environmental campaigner, the allotment was developed in a meadow near the Inishmore entrance of Ballincollig Regional Park.

There are 80 plots along with a canteen, toilet facilities, and storage areas, and a public car park has been built.

Three large communal plots have been taken up by Ballincollig Family Resource Centre, Cope Foundation, and The Girls Club Cork (Cancer Support Centre).

Another large plot, and a large storage area, has been assigned to Ballincollig Tidy Towns, to help them grow flowers and shrubs for use around the town.

The entire scheme was funded by Cork County Council in conjunction with South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD) and Ballincollig Tidy Towns.

SECAD provided about €124,000 in Rural Development Programme funding.

Mr O’Connor said: “There is no reason why the partnership approach involved in this project can’t be replicated in other towns around the county.

“As well the satisfaction of growing your own food, allotments such as these help foster and develop a sense of community and a sense of sharing.”

The Regional Park masterplan also includes the development of tarred-surface looped walkways and a riverside picnic area, with work due to begin within weeks.

There are plans to develop a playground and multi-use games area in the western end of the park next year.

The 134-acre park already has soccer pitches, a rugby pitch, outdoor exercise equipment, a skate park, a permanent orienteering course, and looped woodland and riverside walks.

Meanwhile, Aghada Community Hall has benefited from €150,000 funding from Secad to extend and upgrade the centre, and the €125,000 community-funded Cloyne Community Playground received €75,000 Secad funding.


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