Producing food and creating community

March 19, 2024 in Featured News, News

Irish Jesuit Socius Terry Howard SJ, alongside the Lord Mayor of Clane Des Marron, manned the spade and turned the sod on a new ecological project in Clongowes Wood College estate on Saturday 16 March 2024. (See photo). The sod was turned on ‘The Old Garden’, a new community garden initiative located on Jesuit land beside the Jesuit college in Clane Co Kildare. Irish Jesuits and their colleagues in Clongowes, the Curia, and further afield all turned up for the ceremony.

The event opened with an introduction to the project by Pat Pender, Chairperson of ‘The Blessed John Sullivan Community Gardens and Farm CLG’ which runs the community garden initiative. (Click here to listen to an interview on the project with Pat on KFM ») A plan for the garden was displayed to illustrate what the project aims to achieve over the coming years including allotments to rent, community vegetable gardens, chickens and ducks, food forests, and orchards which, according to Dr Ciara Murphy, Environmental Policy Advocate with the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, “Will provide enough work for anyone with a shade of green fingers.” She also noted that “an incredible amount of work has already been done by the local community alongside the Irish Province, to make this community garden a reality.”

The Socius and the Lord Mayor planted an oak tree. It is hoped that over the coming years, the tree will provide “wonderment and eventually shade for the community as they work together to create a space that produces food and cultivates community,” according to Ciara.

She also says that with the ground broken, the community in the surrounding area will have the chance to “manage their own allotments, growing food on their table or flowers to brighten up their day. For others who may not want to manage their own space but wish to work and spend time in the garden, there will be ample volunteer work to be done in community with others.”

Fr Michael Sheil, superior of the Clongowes Jesuit community, closed the event by blessing the site and the project. He asked those present to celebrate the potential of the acres. And he dared them to change their habits so as to ‘care for their common home’ through the project.

Before the assembled crowd retired to the school for some welcome refreshments, Pat Pender closed the event by thanking the Board of Directors for all their work to date, the Jesuit community in Clongowes for their support for this work since they were first approached over a year ago as well as the Jesuit Province for providing the land without which this project would not be possible.

If you would like to support the project in any way check out The Old Garden website for volunteering and donation opportunities, for information on any future events, and updates on how the garden is progressing.