HUNDREDS of people, from the smallest tots to some of the more mature members of the community, celebrated the official opening of a community garden in Baltinglass recently.
An Tearmann Community Garden is only yards from the busy town, but it’s tucked away behind beautiful old stone buildings and is a complete oasis of calm and vernal beauty.
“I feel so proud of everyone, there is a great feeling of achievement here today,” Mary Vernon, chairperson of the organising committee told The Nationalist at the opening ceremony.
Sr Mary Carmody and Fr Tommy Dillon, the duo who established the original garden, had the honour of officially cutting the ribbon, while other speakers included specialist architect Tom Grey, Fr Ger Ahern, PP, and Reverend Mairt Hanley.
The garden was first established in 2005, but it’s been enhanced in recent months with the introduction of a sensory garden and is now also completely wheelchair accessible.
“People came here before because it’s a beautiful, calm space, but now, with this access, everyone can come here,” Tom Grey pointed out. Tom created an award-winning sensory garden with local horticulturalist Clive Jones for the Bloom competition in 2017 and the duo paired up again to work on the Tearmann garden.
The committee saw a need for this in the area, as there was no outdoor public facility for anyone with dementia in the Baltinglass/West Wicklow area. The sensory garden will provide nourishment of the five senses – hearing, sight, taste, smell and touch.
The entire project is raising awareness in the community on organic gardening, sustainability and harvesting, as well as the benefits of biodiversity. Each member took a responsibility for different elements of the project, so people involved have expertise in biodiversity, care of poultry, gardening, trees, cookery, composting and even seasonal ritual celebrations.
So if it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes an entire town and its surroundings to develop a community space that includes live chickens, raised vegetable beds, an orchard and a space to let nature run wild in.
From the smallest tots in local pre-schools, through to local farmers, service users from KARE, to the active retirement group … all are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and start growing!
“This garden is open 24/7, it’s never closed. People are always welcome to come up and wander around. And if they’d like to volunteer, that would be great, too!” a smiling Mary Vernon concluded.