Our Community Heart Garden Project recently went on a day trip to Ballybeg in Waterford to visit Ballybeg Community Development Project ‘Ballybeg Greens’ and a local Traveller Men’s Shed.  It was an opportunity for our group to explore how different projects with similar goals could inspire us with new ideas and challenge us to improve.

Traveller Men’s Shed

Firstly, Niall and Paddy brought us to the men’s shed which was located on the local Traveller group housing scheme. We sat down in the space they had created and the group got to ask how they got started, how they run the project as well as some of the challenges they face. Paddy spoke about how the project is run on a shared basis with the responsibility for the shed being shared by those that use it.

Focus on Horses

There is a particular focus on horses. Most of the men would use the shed to make their own shoes for their horses. There is an adjacent building with no roof which the group are hoping to refurbish, with the help of the local authority, for use as a boxing club.

Niall Deveraux spoke about how sports activities are used to improve the health of Traveller men in Waterford. We have accepted the challenge of taking part in the next football tournament they run!

Social Enterprise Garden

An allotment at Ballybeg Greens.

We then walked over to visit Ballybeg Greens which is a Community Garden, so it is similar to our Community Heart Garden Project.  The project aims to provide training and employment to unemployed adults through tailor-made horticulture. This project differs to ours as it is a social enterprise that supplies organically grown produce for the food industry.

Food for Thought

Whilst we have grown some excellent organic produce, we have focused on using the produce for healthy eating. Our group has done a nutrition course which has empowered those involved to cook tasty, healthy meals with the produce grown in the garden. However, getting a chance to see how Ballybeg Gardens has developed a sustainable business has given us food for thought for the future!

We also got a chance to sample some of the produce in the tasty soup and sandwiches supplied with organic produce form the garden!