MINISTER SARGENT VISITS NEW FINGAL ALLOTMENTS
Success Story in North Dublin
Trevor Sargent, Minister for Food and Horticulture and local TD, recently visited new allotments in Balgaddy, Whitestown between Balbriggan and Naul in north County Dublin.
Last December, Jeannette Dunne and her husband Christopher ran an advertisement in local papers offering allotments for rent. In January, fifteen of the plots were taken and by the end of May all thirty had been allocated.
Each plot is approximately 120 sq. metres. It is fenced with wired chestnut slats (see photographs) and has its own access from the road that runs through the site. Water is supplied by taps in each plot supplied from a natural spring. Before it is made available, the plot is ploughed and rotivated, ready for planting. When available, farmyard manure is provided free of charge and a site office provides toilets and shelter from the rain. They were taken up by people as young as 14, younger couples and older people nearing retirement. They include city dwellers, pilots, engineers, experienced growers as well as people who had never planted before. Such is the demand that the Dunnes are currently in the process of developing a second lot of allotments.
During a recent visit, Minister Trevor Sargent commented, ‘This is the kind of business venture which can be described as “counter-cyclic”, i.e. it has the potential to successfully expand and develop in recessionary times.’ also Highlighting the importance of allotments the Minister said, ‘Areas, such as this, provide valuable support for people who want to grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables and increases contact with other like-minded people.’
As farmers, Jeanette and her husband want to make good use of their assets. She sees the venture as a long-term business investment that will benefit her family. While an initial investment is required for fencing, water, toilets, ground preparation and such, she is confident that there is sufficient interest to ensure their efforts will pay off.
Besides learning about sustainability and the benefits of growing your own food, Jeanette also enthuses about other benefits to her and her family. Her “Let’s do it” approach came across when she commented, ‘As well as self-sufficiency, it teaches us about the value of money, how to make business decisions and how to invest wisely in order to get a return. The business has also provided an opportunity for us to meet people as well as having a lot of fun doing things together.’