The Cabbage Patchers in Warrenpoint are using a £10,000 Awards for All grant to create a community growing space.
An oasis of calm is well underway in the heart of Warrenpoint to offer a space for the whole community to reap the benefits of an outdoor shared growing space writes Laura Barr.
The passionate and enthusiastic Cabbage Patchers are using a £10,000 grant from Awards for All National Lottery Community Fund to develop a new community garden which will promote a greener environment, healthier lifestyle, and a more inclusive community for everyone.
The trans-generational cross community project will provide support and an opportunity to anyone wanting a growing space on their new site.
They intend to encourage and inform people about the benefits of growing food and will provide information about healthy lifestyles, environmental issues, cooking, crafts and living on a budget.
The group acquired a new privately rented space back in August right in the centre of Warrenpoint and have started to create their exciting vision for the space.
The project is located via a laneway between Around a Pound and the Old Bennets building and by taking the first right turn onto the lane leading up the back of the Main Street buildings and the back of the houses on Summerhill.
Down News were kindly invited along to check out the new site and chat with members of the Cabbage Patchers to hear all about the incredible plans going forward.
Although the site is still taking shape, a lot of structural work has already taken place thanks to a generous donation by Forest Wood in Newry.
Chairperson of the group, Harry Hughes, a joiner by trade was able to use donated timber from Forest Wood and build an outside large timber shelter.
Beside this is a metal container which they hope to turn into a kitchen with storage at the back and adjacent to this will be another timber structure with a decking area to provide seating.
Harry explained: “Covid-19 has given us the opportunity to almost re-start again with the Cabbage Patchers.
“This is a great opportunity for us to do that, even though we are 10 years old now it almost feels like a re-launch.
“The outside covered space enables us to be Covid-friendly and welcome everyone in our community to enjoy this amazing, shared space.”
Harry said that the idea is more than a community garden with the ethos of the Cabbage Patchers being a gathering place for people to socialise and relax.
Cabbage Patch Secretary Colette Ruddy said that being outdoors in their new location is the perfect opportunity for people to get together while maintaining social distancing.
“As we are outdoors, people will be able to gather here and our plan is for it to be a social hub and an oasis.
“We have lots of plans for the future including workshops, skill-shares, a specialist area and we are very keen to develop a children’s growing area.”
Over the years, the Cabbage Patchers have welcomed placements from local schools, Youth Justice Agency and more recently, the Simon Community who helped with getting the current site cleared.
“We are always delighted for groups or individuals to come down and volunteer with us,” Colette added.
“Over the summer, we had people helping to paint the big brick wall including mummies with their children, teachers and retired people.”
The group intend to have a big mural painted onto the brick wall to add a pop of colour.
A poly-tunnel will run down the middle of the land and there will be raised beds in all of the open area as you enter.
The group are keen to adapt the growing space to the needs of the community and are keen to get more input from the people of Warrenpoint.
“We have had requests from parents with autistic children for a raised bed as they find it very therapeutic as well as requests for some of our wooden boxes to be on raised legs for older people or people suffering from arthritis” Colette said.
“It’s about making the site accessible for everyone.”
There will also be an online resource whereby people can keep up to date with what they are doing and grow their own veg at home if they aren’t able to get up to the site.
Harry said that while the hub is there for everyone to make use of, they do intend to spread out into the whole community and make what they are doing accessible for everyone.
“We do hope to encourage our community to grow from home too and we can supply them with whatever they may need to do so.
“We want this to be a success for the community and really need the help from them to make this happen.
“We are asking for volunteers to come and help with the space and contribute their ideas” added Harry.
A social enterprise is also something the group would like to explore with the possibility of a log cabin with a craft shop selling local products.
Treasurer, Roisin Murray-Gibbons is hoping the space is up and running by Easter time.
“It will be really great for elderly people to be able to pop down for a chat and a cup of tea or coffee.
“People are so starved of social interaction at the minute and this is really the only space in Warrenpoint where the whole community can come together and socialise.
“Places like this one really give people a sense of purpose really.”
The group would like to thank the National Lottery for the generous grant and to all the lottery players for making that happen.
If anyone would like to get in touch about visiting the space or volunteering you can contact the Cabbage Patchers via their Facebook page: