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Colin Glen Community Garden and Allotments

Funder :European Union Peace 3 programme

Location: Colin Glen, West Belfast

Partners & Stakeholders: Groundwork N.I, Colin Neighbourhood Partnership

This project is part of Groundwork N.I’s Sharing Our Space programme funded through the E.U‘s Peace III programme under Priority 2: Contributing to a shared society, Theme 1: Contributing to a shared public space. The land on which the project is located is approximately 8 acres. This is leased by the Colin Neighbour Partnership (CNP) from Invest N.I. CNP is the major partner that Groundwork N.I is working with to deliver this project. The land has sat idle for the last fifteen years with no realistic prospect of future industrial development.

The Colin Neighbourhood is an extensive urban district located on the western edge of Greater Belfast and sits within Lisburn borough council area. It is comprised of four distinct areas – Twinbrook, Poleglass, Lagmore and Kilwee.

The construction of the community garden and allotments were completed in August 2012. The first phase of the projects offers fifty four large individual allotments and the use of two communal poly tunnels. These plots are presently fully let with a waiting list. However members of the community who are not plot holders come together regular with those who lease plots and the community gardener to continue to develop and maintain the garden. This includes developing an edible landscape throughout the garden by creating elements such as a community orchard. We are also actively working to manage and enhance the biodiversity at the garden by sensitively managing the existing habitats and creating new habitats for local wildlife. We have had huge interest from the community for both the individual allotments and the community plots. The individuals and groups will be able to call on the community gardener for help, advice, support and to facilitate community gardening sessions as part of their annual fee paid to the project. The Community Gardening Officer has a great deal of experience both working on a practical horticultural level and working with communities to inspire them to get involved and to take ownership of their project.

We will develop a healthy living centre on the site that we hope will utilise an alternative form of environmentally sensitive construction and will include renewable energy infrastructure. This centre will be used by many community groups and schools from the community. We hope to develop small scale social enterprise within the project to create local employment opportunities and also to feed back income to financially sustain the project in the future. Another aspect will be the provision of accredited training on site through the Open College Network which will allow the local community to develop their skills and learning and may help individuals develop their career opportunities.

This project focuses on inspiring the community to get physically active and produce a proportion of their own food in an organic, non intensive manner. The community is benefiting from the physical activity, the mental health benefits of being outdoors and being physically active and also the nutritional benefits of consuming their own quality food produced at a local level. We are building community whilst also reconnecting the community with where there food comes from and how it is produced.

A key element of the project will be working in partnership with other organisations to make the project a success. Apart from the main partnership between Groundwork N.I and CNP, the community is working with a range of organisations on site.CNP will be bringing many of their own groups to the project to get involved such as the The Men’s Group and many young families involved  through the Colin Early Intervention Policy. We deliver regular workshops with Rathbone, Community Restorative Justice, Homeplus, Action Mental Health and Action on Disability. The project has a partnership with GIY (Grow it Yourself) and has launched a West Belfast GIY group which comes together monthly and is based around the project.

We hope that this project is a catalyst for positive change, the transformation of derelict space and the development of an area of shared space for all the local communities where everyone can feel welcome and safe.

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