Meet Ireland’s Starters: Jackie from Ballyvaughan’s Community Garden

In the “Meet our Starters” series we invite people who start new ideas in their communities to share their stories with the ChangeX community: What gets them excited about an idea, how are they hoping it will benefit the community, how do they make it happen.

Jackie is starting a big community growing project in her community in Ballyvaughan. They are already up and running and are hoping to secure some funding from the Energia Get Ireland Growing Fund


Tell us a bit more about your community project and the difference you are hoping to make. 

The Ballyvaughan growing community project is based on the idea of growing organic fruits and vegetables together. We were very much inspired by the Moy Hills community garden, which has grown into a CSA farm based in North Clare. It’s almost like a small seed that has kept flourishing due to the people and their hard work. Moy Hill was founded by three surfer gentlemen(!) who just wanted to grow vegetables. They acquired a piece of disused land and they made it happen. After seeing how positive and successful Moy Hill has been this has inspired us all.

What are the first steps you are planning to take? 

We will implement the same approach. We started with a first planting day, where we planted 10 orchard trees and 50 coppicing trees (we got €250 from ChangeX Burren and used it to buy the trees). After this we will erect two poly tunnels, which we have but we do need the assistance of a grant to buy the plastic, insurance and some tools. We are very eager to get the project off the ground this year.  As the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is now”.

It’s important that communities start initiatives like these so that skills can be learned and passed on, connections can be made, stories can be shared and the benefits of growing can be reaped.

A community garden in my opinion is the only place where young and old can work and create together. We are living in a very fast paced world where technology is consuming the minds of people and our children and the gift of working with your hands is becoming less and less. We are losing the skills of how to grow and the demand is getting bigger and bigger for food that is wrapped in plastic and has collected many air miles. If we don’t change attitudes the next generation will be entirely dependent on these models.

“A community garden is the only place where young and old can work and create together.”

Tell us something about yourself. Have you always been involved in community projects? 

I moved to Ballyvaughan with my daughter 10 years ago with the intention of trying to become in some ways self-sufficient. I have to be honest, I found this very hard on my own. I work full time from my home as a self-employed potter. I have been working and educating in the field of ceramics for over 15 years now. I have always been a very driven, practical and creative person. I work with my hands daily and I am so passionate about passing on skills that may be forgotten.

I roll out a programme for the Design and Craft council of Ireland every year in Co. Clare called CraftED.  The concept behind this programme is to bring craft skills into primary education and enable the teachers to teach these skills once the craft person has left. The model is based on collaboration, integration and process learning.

Would you say Ballyvaughan is a very connected community?

In Ballyvaughan there is definitely a community spirit alive. We have many things happening for the young and the old. Some of my contributions to the village are teaching lifesaving skills to the children. I am an Irish Water Safety instructor and I teach the children here in Ballyvaughan every summer.

I also am part of the Committee for the Ballyvaughan Playground. After many unsuccessful attempts to get a playground in the village, this year we have managed to secure funding from LEADER and we have raised enough capital for the funding to go ahead. It will be an amazing benefit to the village.

And are there any other ideas you love, that in your eyes, make it a better place to live? 

There are lots of things happening here, initiatives that take a huge amount of voluntary commitment. Much of which is overseen by a dedicated Ballyvaughan Community Development Group.

Examples of other community spirit would be a vibrant Scout group for 6-14yr olds. There’s a local Walking Club, Cycling Club, Book Club, Film Club, GAA Club, Knitting Club, Exercise Classes for Older people, Farmers’ Market, Local Library, The Gathering (social for older citizens), Zumba for all ages, Couch to 5k running group plus more we may not even be aware of!


Learn how to start your own GIY group

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