A 4.5 acre former mill site, now a community garden and wider biopark, this project is a great example of growing community and environmental help by using permaculture practices and building good relationships with local council.
Region: Causeway Coast and Glens
Founded/started on site: 2011
Member since: 2009
Incredible Edible Cloughmills is a campaign to reconnect people with each other, their community and the natural environment using food as the mechanism. It is managed by Cloughmills Community Action Team, a community development organisation operating in Cloughmills, Co. Antrim since 1989. The Community Action Team was established to develop and implement locally managed and sustainable solutions to social, economic and environmental issues. The group worked closely with Ballymoney Borough Council, and now Causeway Coast and Glens Council on this project.
The group initially set up a community garden on land behind a local pub, but now operates from a former mill site of some 4.5 acres in the middle of the village and this now forms the centre of most actions linked to the overall campaign. The land and buildings are owned by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council with a lease arrangement in place. The project continues to grow and expand with the vision of turning the overall area into a community managed space with recreational, social and environmental benefits for all concerned.
Lead volunteer Patrick Frew says “We’re trying to get people to connect better with food and the world around them. That means to grow food and then what to do with the food, how to cook it. But it’s not just about the food, it’s about the connections you make with other people”.
The site is open for community access all the time and is managed cooperatively by a group of volunteers. The group manage a significant food growing project and associated skills training programme including gardening courses and cooking activities for people of all ages. They use permaculture principles on site and maximise the biodiversity potential by not using any chemicals. CCAT believe passionately in bringing people together to demonstrate that life can be simple yet very rewarding. They have an outdoor toddler group, meeting in the garden and park spaces, a community fridge for food sharing, a library of things where people can borrow equipment for the home or garden and a people's shed, shared by men, women and young people. They organise regular social and therapeutic horticultural programmes and host placements for people from all backgrounds. The group also delivers programmes for the council and other statutory agencies as well as community and voluntary bodies, and may secure more public engagement because of their already established position in the community. Our success is due to the fact that the project is very much driven by and ‘owned’ by the community and volunteers.
There are a number of elements which have made this project work. One of these is a close working relationship between the community group and the local council. This is greatly facilitated by the fact that council staff volunteer and collaborate with the group on projects. The group has proved to be a progressive, achieving and willing partner who wants to work equally with the council. The positive relationship, based on mutual respect has taken time to develop with both parties having had occasional issues in understanding how the other operates. These were resolved through open and positive dialogue.
CCAT focus on the positive emotional and physical wellbeing of people of all ages across the community. The Covid 19 crisis has encouraged to group to look beyond the site and bring our core principles into people’s homes. This included the distribution of meals, food and wildflower growing packs, craft packs, herbal tea planters and the latest venture which will see the group providing equipment, hens and support to 6 households enabling them to look after 3 hens in their back gardens/yards. This outreach programme will become a key component of our future plans to encourage more sustainable lifestyles.
Grow was established by a small group of local residents from North Belfast in October 2008. Their motivation initially was to create a space for people to connect through growing, particularly targeting those who were experiencing mental ill-health. It quickly became clear however that there was interest and a need within the wider community for safe spaces to connect, not just those with mental ill-health.