Home grown, healthy, nutritious and affordable food!

Here are the recipes from Saturday’s cooking at the allotments:

Potato salad: Steam or boil your potatoes until cooked. Let them cool to room temperature. Season well with good salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix in a tub of natural yoghurt. Stir in finely shredded herbs. We used mint and chives.

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Allotment couscous: In a large bowl add half a packet of couscous. Add boiling water until the couscous is just covered. Crumble in a good quality veg stock cube stir, then cover with a plate and let the couscous steam/soak in the stock for 10 min’. In the mean time prep your ingredients to add to the couscous. The great thing about couscous is that you can add nearly anything. We added fresh greens from the allotment. So we had finely chopped courgette, spinach, fennel, rocket, mint, and chives. Now that 10 min’s has gone past take a fork and fluff up your couscous. Season well with good salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a good glug of good quality extra virgin olive oil and good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Mix well. Add your greens and mix well again. If you like a little bit of chilli heat you can add a half a teaspoon of harissa (chilli paste). We also added some roughly chopped almonds (any nuts will do). Mix well and you’re done.

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For desert we enjoyed fresh strawberries marinated in black pepper and balsamic vinegar. Sounds a bit odd but the pepper adds a little heat that work well and the balsamic draws out the juices of the strawberry creating a jammy sauce. Roughly chop your strawberries, add a few twists of freshly ground black pepper and a three capfuls of good quality balsamic vinegar. Stir well and leave to marinate for as long as three to four hours. We enjoyed these with some natural yoghurt and a freah cake decorated with homegrown redcurrants, blackcurrants and ebible flowers (borage and calendula).

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Celebrating Dino and the summer solstice.

This month has been a hard month. We lost Dino. Dino was a gentleman who made a big impression on me. He was just that ‘gentle’, involved, kind, and it was clear he cared. Dino was an active member of the Colin Allotments committee. He really loved the community garden and allotments and spent a great deal of time with us. I took a lot from the time I spent with Dino. His kind and considered manner rippled out from himself and will live on in those who were fortunate to meet him and spend time with him at Colin Allotments. Dino I’m glad you are my friend.


So after we checked it was appropriate to go ahead with plans to celebrate the Summer Solstice we decided to also celebrate our friend Dino. We fund raised by taking donations at the solstice celebration and selling plants on the night and at a local school fair the next day aiming to purchase a defibrillator for the allotments. The atmosphere was really special at the weekend. This community are doing great things! We’re proud of what we are achieving together. The weather for the summer solstice ceile and St Anne’s plant fair couldn’t have been better. Thanks to all those who came along and enjoyed the great buzz that this community have created at Colin Allotments. Thanks to all the musicians, dancers, foodies, growers, organisers and to all the community. Our fundraising in memory of our great friend Dino to buy a defibrillator for the Colin Allotments raised £700.

Have a look at the short video made by our friends at The Belfast Thread for FREE on the night.


Affordable, nutritious, seasonal and local food.

We had a great morning on Saturday at Colin Allotments. The talented and enthusiastic Community Cook Heather Boyd joined us to show us how easy and affordable it is to prepare nutritious, seasonal and local food for yourself and your family. The sun was shining so much that decided to cook al fresco. Heather managed to recruit the help of many glamorous assistants. Thanks to Seamus, Joe, Gary and Ann. The veg and herbs were all sourced from Colin Allotments! Here are a few photos and the recipes (below). They are really easy and delicious so give them a go!


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Spaghetti with cream cheese and spinach – quantity to feed 4-6 as a main meal. Boil a packet of spaghetti (500g) takes approx 8 mins. In a large pan put in a bit of olive oil (approx 2 tablespoons) and chop 2 cloves of garlic and a piece of chilli and gently fry for a couple of minutes. In a dry pan put in washed spinach and heat for 1 min to let it wilt, squeeze out the water from the spinach and roughly chop. Add the spinach to the garlic and chilli. Add Philadelphia cream cheese (200g approx) and mix, by this time the spaghetti should be cooked, add it to the pan with the spinach mixture and mix well, add a little of the water that the spaghetti was cooked in to make more of a sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with cheese.

Salad – lettuce, fast growing oriental leaves. Top the salad leaves with pan fried potatoes and beetroot and drizzle a little olive oil and lemon juice over it all or you could use mayo or salad cream. Sprinkle edible flowers calendula and chives over the top. Potatoes chop up pre boiled potatoes and fryin a little olive oil and add a bit of garlic near the end of cooking. Beetroot, cut the beetroot into slices and pan fry in butter for 5 mins each side. Season the finished salad with salt and pepper

Rhubarb – wash and chop 1lb (500g) rhubarb into 1 inch (4cm) pieces. Cover with 1/2 lb (250 g) sugar and leave overnight. The sugar will draw liquid out of the fruit. Put the sugar and rhubarb mix over a gentle heat and bring to the boil ( do not add any water) and cook for about 10 mins. Near the end of cooking you could add some chopped crystallised ginger but this is optional. Cool and serve with yoghurt or custard, or creamed rice. The rhubarb will keep in a fridge for a week.



A boutique summer residence for our Swifts!

You may have spotted a new addition to our project. With the funding from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s “NGO Challenge Fund” administered by the Northern Ireland Environment Link and secured by the Belfast Hills Partnership we have installed a new ‘Swift Tower’ at the allotments. This funding is made of the 5p’s and 10p’s that the N.I public have spent on plastic carrier bags in the last year (we love the plastic bag tax!).


Swifts are summer migrants like our swallows. They fly from Africa to Ireland and spend the summer here feeding and breeding. However we humans have unwittingly destroyed a lot of the cosy places that swifts like to nest. They especially love old ruined buildings and barns. We like to knock these down and ‘tidy them up’. The result is that the numbers of swifts in Ireland has drastically reduced. So these ‘Swift Towers’ provide a boutique nesting place for our summer migrants. There are 24 nest boxes in the tower. There is also a small solar panel which will power a recorded verison of the swifts song. This decoy swift song will lure passing swifts into the area to nest as they believe other swifts are nesting nearby. This is another great addition to our project and builds on efforts to care for the wildlife at the allotments. Any questions, just ask. 

Get involved!

Morning all, spring is in the air. We’ll be at the allotments on Thursday doing some work on our new community herb planters around the allotment HQ building. Come join us from 10.30am.

Some other dates for your diary. On Thursday March 20th there will be a FREE trip to visit the Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra. This is being organised by Colin Neighbourhood Partnership with support from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. Their is a lot to learn about our heritage in terms of how grew our own food in the past. To book a place call Michael at Cloona House on 02890 623813. 

Then on Saturday 22nd we will be working with Freddie and the volunteers from Belfast Hills Partnership to create a beautiful new perennial wild flower meadow along the gravel path at the entrance to the allotments. As Freddie would say. Get involved!


Green light for Healthy Living Centre in Colin


Plans for a new healthy living centre, based at Colin Community Allotments on the outskirts of Poleglass have been given the green light.


‘Edible education in an edible landscape’ is now on the agenda at the popular community facility, where dozens of local families are already befitting from fresh fruit and vegetables farmed on the site.


Around £250,000 of funding has been released to bring the healthy living centre to life, part financed by the European Union’s Programme for Peace and Reconciliation through the Sharing Our Space Programme and topped up with a £50,000 grant from the Alpha Programme.


Administered by Groundwork Northern Ireland, the Alpha Programme uses tax credits from the Mullaghglass Landfill Site – within walking distance of Colin Community Allotments – to fund grants for eco and community projects across Greater Belfast and Lisburn.


The new facility will allow more structured training for local people aiming to grow their own produce and the development of a small scale, social enterprise to create local employment opportunities in the ‘green jobs’ sector.


Groundwork Northern Ireland’s in-house architect was also involved in the planning process for the new centre, which will be incredibly eco-friendly.


Mick McEvoy, Community Gardener at Groundwork Northern Ireland, explains; “This will be an innovative building, based on the concept of ‘Cargotecture’, using pre used industrial shipping containers to form the basis of our new building.


“The entire centre will be environmentally sustaianble” 


“On the roof we will have a bank of solar PV panels to provide energy and hopefully allow us to sell excess energy back to the grid which will generate some income for the project.





“This space will have a top quality working kitchen will be used as a headquarters for our courses in growing, cooking and everything that is ‘edible education’.


“It’s a game changer for this site – which is already hugely popular and has become an important community hub in recent years.


Michael George from Colin Neighbourhood Partnership said; “We have been working collectively on this project for the last two years and it continues to develop both in scale and in the range of activities the Partnership will provide.


“We are delighted the plans have been passed and are looking forward to this site being transformed into an environmental asset once phase two is complete.”


For more information, contact the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership on 028 9062 3813 or click online at www.newcolin.com or contact Groundwork NI on 028 90 749494 or visit www.groundworkni.org.uk.




Wild bird ringing, nest box building and bird watching!

Hi everyone,


we had a great night on Monday with Spooky McCooky despite the weather. We have lot’s more planned for you this week during half term. Come and join us on Friday for the ‘Make a Bird Box Workshop’ 

1pm – 3pm. 
Come to experience a fascinating afternoon learning about wild bird ringing, nest box building and bird watching. Aidan Crean, a local licensed wild bird ringer, will be coming along to demonstrate various bird species. You will build a bird box which can be brought home to put up in your garden to help the birds nest and survive over winter. 

Free transport will be provided; meet at the back of the Dairy Farm Shopping Centre at 12.45pm. Registration required, please contact Scap at Colin Neighbourhood Partnership on 028 9062 3813 or email scap@newcolin.com to book.





The return of Spooky McCooky

Hi folks,

Tomorrow , Saturday , we’ll be at the allotments rain or shine! Come join our community event when we will be joined by Belfast Hills Partnership to create wild life friendly ‘dead hedges’ at the allotments. These dead hedges are made off dead wood and provide a home for wildlife such as hedghogs and frogs. Both big fans of eating slugs! Increased biodiversity at the allotments equals less pests on our plots! We’ll be gathering from 10am.

Also don’t forget that as part of a week of great Halloween activities we will be welcoming back Spooky McCooky to Colin allotments on Monday 28th October from 7pm. Spooky may be a little scary for the younger kids so please make your own judgement as parents. Dress for the weather as no doubt it will be cold and perhaps wet.

Here is a link to the other events being hosted by Colin Neighbourhood Partnership next week.



Look forward to seeing a lot of you over the next few days.

We have plans

CNP_Consultation Board 1 compressed


These drawings detail the plans for our new Healthy Living Centre. At the heart of this element of our project is an edible landscape, edible education sustainability and the environment. We will develop this healthy living/education centre by utilising an alternative form of environmentally sensitive construction and will include renewable energy infrastructure. In this case we will be embracing the concept of ‘Cargotecture’, that is the use of pre used industrial shipping containers to form the basis of our new building. We will have five of the largest shipping containers stripped out internally. They will provide one large open plan space which will be insulated to the highest standards. On the roof we will have a bank of solar panels that will provide us with energy and hopefully allow us to sell excess energy back to the grid which will generate  income for the project. This space will have a top quality working kitchen will be used as HQ for our courses in growing, cooking and everything that is edible education.

The exterior of our building will be clad with native timbers and be host to habitat walls and bug hotels for the local wildlife. We will have a large green living wall that will support native climbing plants and provide another habitat boosting the biodiversity once more on site.

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.

CNP_Consultation Board 2 compressed

The building will be south facing and we will be able to walk straight outside into the outdoor classroom and green amphitheatre with fire pit which can be used by school groups and community groups for outdoor learning and events. The edible landscape outside will continue the ethos of the community allotments. This landscape will be an essential part of the social enterprise. We will grow for local community markets, cafes and restaurants and we may possibly create a pop community cafe at special events. The principles of permaculture will be employed throughout the design and management of this phase of our project. Neatly summed up as “Earth care, people care, fair shares”, the permaculture ethics give purpose to our work, and connect us with the many millions of others who are also working towards a fairer, healthier and more harmonious human culture. Just like our community allotments there will be great possibilities for the local community and others to get involved in this project through volunteering. Get in touch. Be a part of a green future for the Colin community.

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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.