TV allotment area to be turned into garden park and play facility for youngsters

AN AWARD-WINNING project which targets teens at risk of being homeless is about to break new ground – literally.

A site behind the Foyer residential centre in Blackpool, on Cork’s northside, currently featuring in celebrity chef Richard Corrigan’s City Farm television series on allotments, will be transformed into a garden park once the cameras stop rolling.

The city council will take over the allotment area and develop it for Foyer residents. With a Victorian glasshouse as its centrepiece, the garden park will also feature a play park for toddlers, park benches, and a commercial coffee pod.

It was always the Foyer’s intention to develop the site, but Corrigan’s programme, coupled with an €80,000 grant confirmed yesterday, means it can become a reality.

Foyer residents will use the site to learn gardening and landscaping skills.

The Churchfield Community Trust will offer a full horticultural programme in the greenhouse two days a week for ex-offenders recovering from addiction. They will sell garden furniture and plant pots made at their woodwork facility from the park. The trust will also operate a small coffee pod from April to October, targeting staff from the nearby Revenue Commissioner’s office.

“It is intended that the small operation will provide a therapeutic real learning environment rather than a full-blown profit making business,” a Foyer spokesman said.

“It will provide an excellent small business enterprise opportunity. Any profit from the café will help to sustain the whole project longer term.”

The garden park will be available to the wider community and will also be used as an outdoor learning facility for local creche groups, coordinated by Cork Steiner Waldorf Group Kindergarten.

“With Cork City Council’s leadership, the Foyer is an example of how the amalgamation of public services with innovation and common purpose provides a sector of society with a structured pathway back into the local community and for the benefit of the local community,” the spokesman said.

Lord Mayor Brian Bermingham, who officially announced the project yesterday, also unveiled a plaque to the Little Sisters of the Assumption, who provided care for the elderly and sick at the site for over 125 years.

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