Tuesday, 11 July 2017

An extra special garden visit-The Hardwicke Club

As you'll all remember I went to Dublin in early June to take part in Bloom Fringe and one of the things I was most looking forward to was meeting with Jay Sher and visiting the Hardwicke Club Community Garden.
Now it's no news that I am a huge advocate of community growing and gardening and spend much of my time supporting the creation of community spaces in Bristol, but it's always great to visit other projects, chat with other community gardeners and find out how other gardens work.
Shed/tea drinking space. I love the way the jars are nailed to the roof!
So The Hardwicke Club garden is in the centre of a social housing estate a very short walk from Dublin city centre. I met with Jay who is the gardens coordinator, I guess, although very much a volunteer and offering everything he does for the garden through a deep set belief that gardens support change. The garden is at both tiny and huge. It may take up a small space but its jam packed full of raised beds growing so much veg it was extraordinary. Potatoes, greens, spinach, tomatoes....you name it. And not only was the produce there, it was thriving. 
Great use of raised beds.
There's an area to sit that's undercover that effectively is the project's shed. There are outdoor seating spaces. There are garden ornaments and crafted bits and bobs placed all over the space. This is a garden made with love. The bringing together of people has made this space what it is today. And that is what I want to focus on.
Whilst we were there we popped over to the community centre opposite for a 'comfort break' and as we were over there some magical things happened that made me realise some stuff....
Strawberries and borage that was covered in bees!
It was a hot Friday afternoon. Actually it was my birthday and I was exhausted after a very long and complicated journey which had only allowed me 2 hours sleep in 24. I'd gone into a meeting with Dublin City Council to espouse the joys of community gardening, growing and the Incredible Edible model almost straight off the ferry and that had taken pretty much all of my ever decreasing energy but I was determined to see this garden, mainly because I knew Ron had been the year before and had his socks knocked off. Walking through the estate and hearing about the pieces of gardening outside the main part of the garden had definitely started to give me back some mojo but this short time in the garden and outside the community centre reinvigorated me. 
Why? Because every single person who walked past the garden stopped to say hello, to have a chat, to tell us some news. The kids who were playing outside chatted to Jay about what they'd been up to and what they going to do in the garden in the summer, and everyone, without any exception was engaged.
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How? Because Jay lives there and has fought for the garden and made it what it is not by himself, but with all the residents of the estate. Not doing it for people, but doing it with them, being the catalyst, is how these projects succeed and this is a prime example of a man deeply rooted in his community helping to change it from within. 
All around the world there are people like Jay and we should be shouting their stories from the roof tops, supporting them on social media and being inspired to make our own change in our own communities. Because through the power of these relatively small actions, all be they life changing for those involved, a movement of change is taking place that will, and is, quietly changing the way communities work and people live their lives.
Get involved. It's the best thing you'll ever do. 

Jay in the garden!


  1. Great story, and very inspiring! I love these grassroots projects. They give me hope.

  2. There is always hope Helen!!