Limerick lags behind in the allotment stakes

Green Party candidate for the Castleconnell electoral area, Trish Forde-Brennan, is calling on Limerick County Council to catch up when it comes to the provision of allotment sites and supporting people to grow their own food.

“Right around the country from Galway, Cork, Waterford there are Grow-it-Yourself groups forming as more people want to eat locally-produced food and to have a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps we are rediscovering our agricultural roots but there is a real desire to work with the soil and produce our own food. Even Michelle Obama and her daughters are growing their own vegatables in the White House” she said. The grow it yourself movement is backed up with a 66% increase in sales of herbs, fruit and vegetable plants since 2002. For the first time in decades sales of fruit and vegetable plants are ahead of flowers . According to Bord Bia, sales of herb fruit and vegetable planta has increased from 9 million to 15 million euros.

“That is incredible.” said Ms Forde-Brennan . “With food prices increasing there is money to be saved by growing your own food. It is particularly frustrating that neither Limerick County or City Council provide Allotments or Community Gardens.” said Ms Forde-Brennan.” In local authorities such as Dublin South County Council and Fingal they have waiting lists even though they have increased the number of allotment sites being made available. Now, Kilkenny County Council and Cork City Council are making provision for sites, but Limerick is left behind again”

“I recently spoke to officials from both the County Council and the NRA and they have now committed to researching possible allotment provision. This will take to the end of Spring 2010. Such is the demand that I believe there is a market for both local authority and privately-owned allotments so long as they are leased at reasonable prices. With people having more time on their hands through unemployment, retirement and wanting a quality of life, growing one’s own food is very attractive.”

Ms Forde-Brennan hosted a meeting this week at the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel , where people from Castletroy to Raheen came together to voice support for allotment provision and to look for more information. Speakers at the meeting included Ms Forde-Brennan, Colin Fitzpatrick from the UL Farmers Market, Trish Shine, Mary Lyons from Teagasc and Valerie O’Connor from Vals Kitchen Blog. It was agreed to form a network and identify possible site locations and site providers. “It is clear that there is broad interest in this campaign and it appeals to all ages. What else could introduce new friends, save money, provide exercise, and help generate income?” said Ms Forde-Brennan.