Allotments ‘depend on scheme success’

The team at Sunnylands Community Centre during the gardening session. INCT 30-101-GR
The team at Sunnylands Community Centre during the gardening session. INCT 30-101-GR

Green-fingered residents of Sunnylands could soon have their own allotments depending on the success of a new community garden.

A joint scheme between Carrickfergus Borough Council and the local Community Forum, the garden is based at Sunnylands Community Centre.

A youth group from the forum gathered at the centre on Thursday afternoon to begin planting on the scheme.

Alison Diver, Natural Communities outreach officer with the local authority, explained: “We’re planting flowers, fruit, veg and herbs that have all been provided by the council.

“The idea is that anyone in the community can add to the garden at any point.

“Once the herbs and plants are in, people can come and pick them as well.

“The garden has a recycling theme, so we’ve used old tyres from Sullatober as planters, and some of the girls have brought old wellies and things like that.”

Although the scheme was mainly geared towards young people in its early stages, it is hoped that the entire community will benefit from the finished project.

“We do a lot of work with the council’s Hearty Lives team and this links into the whole idea of healthy eating,” Alison added.

“Planting is not necessarily something that everyone knows how to do until you show them.

“Hopefully this will encourage more people to take an interest in growing their own fruit and veg.”

The initiative could lead to the development of allotments for the area if the initial scheme is successful, according to Robert Williams, Community Development worker with Carrickfergus Community Forum.

“If the urban garden is successful and well maintained, then we will be looking at putting some allotments into the area,” Robert added.

“The idea behind this scheme is that young people can give something back to their community.

“The members of the group are aged between 15 and 18 and come from Carrickfergus College, Ulidia and Downshire.

“They came up with the recycling theme for the garden themselves as they thought it was something that young people should know more about.”

The initiative comes at a time when interest in horticulture is at its peak due to the ongoing Carrick in Bloom contest.

Carrickfergus and Whitehead are also due to be inspected in the coming weeks by judges as part of the prestigious Britain in Bloom competition.