Monique Mbelu, Nicholas Maina, Emerance Lukwasa and Germaine Mwari at the recent launch of the International Garden. Photos: Clare Keogh

A world renowned garden

A new Cork project has been launched and promises a safe space for families in Direct Provision.

The International Garden Centre at Ardfoyle Convent in Ballintemple is a green space in which families can grow food from their own countries.

Green spaces in cities are becoming increasingly recognised as a key driver in health and wellbeing. Gardening is a universal language, allowing people to connect, including those with little language in common.

As a pilot project, it started with 7 migrant families who have played a key part in setting up the garden project therefore creating a sense of ownership which is central to the notion of a ‘safe space’.

Families can participate in the garden activities, and this addresses the child-care barriers to participation in activities or learning which is a persistent barrier at the Cork Migrant Centre as it is in other settings.

When speaking about food that is specific to their countries, each of these families become the cultural expert on how it is grown, cooked, and preserved for re-growth. They can grow it and share it. It fosters the celebration of ecological and cultural diversity.

The garden was set up in collaboration with partners and collaborators from various corporates and other organizations like SHEP, Ardfoyle College of Horticulture, Johnson Controls Cork, Remitly Cork, Green Spaces for Health, Community Garda, Cork City Council Social Inclusion office and UCC. Apple International Cork has just recently joined the partnership too.

The garden was set up earlier this year and currently the families have had 2 to 3 harvesting sessions of various food products.