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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

somewhereto_ plant a community allotment

Recently Andy Kenny, a Masters in Landscape Architecture student, got in touch with us looking for somewhereto_ plant a community allotment. Andy and a group of several more young people from the University of Ulster Architecture Department completed the project in the past few weeks. Here, he tells us how they got on...

Starting to dig in East Belfast. Photo by Andy Kenny.

Andy, tell us a bit about yourself

I am a graduate of 3D Design and have recently obtained a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture. I have also been involved in engaging the public and community with projects including “Urban Playground”, Belfast 2008 at the Pothouse Bar, been a resident at “out of PLACE”, TransBelfast 2010 and Culture Night 2010 where I produced green interventions in the City Centre.

One of the completed allotment boxes. Photo by Andy Kenny.
Through my course in Landscape Architecture at the University of Ulster I worked with “The Science Shop” where I designed a community based project. In my thesis I explored digital technology and community planning in Northern Ireland that achieved two awards.

Why did you need a space?
The project with somewhereto_ was a continuation of “The Science Shop” community design proposal in East Belfast. From studying the research carried out by the East Belfast Partnership I believed there was a need for improvement in the areas of Education, Employment and Health of Ballymacarrett and surroundings areas in East Belfast. With the removal of Secondary and Primary schools as well as the Metropolitan College in July 2011, there is now an important opportunity to give education to the local people in the area.

Up a tree in East Belfast. Photo by Andy Kenny.
Urban agriculture would give the local people a chance to learn and gain ‘hands on’ experience. This would be linked in with local community centres and the local people with the potential of myself and others promoting growing allotments and guerrilla gardening. This would hopefully lead to a new community and provide the local people with the opportunity and confidence to get skills and employment. By the means of fresh foods available in a local context it would also create a healthier lifestyle. Also, with the simplicity of growing fresh food and the benefits of eating them it would increase the health of the local people at a low price.

The team at work. Photo by Andy Kenny.
What were your plans?
The creation of the community allotment/orchard would be through the help of the local community, somewhereto_, PLACE, East Belfast Partnership and eight Architecture students from the University of Ulster. It would be designed and constructed as a community allotment and maintained by the local people in an area of unused land owned by the NIHE on the Belmont Road.

Mucky hands! Photo by Andy Kenny.
How did the plans work out?
The design and construction of the project was successful with the students engaged throughout the process. Fruit trees were planted, planter beds were established, compost bins were constructed on site and filled. To promote the project, bird boxes with the somewhereto_ logos were placed around the site and in other potential areas.

Bird boxes at Edenvale Crescent. Photo by Andy Kenny.
The project has the potential to be continued in other areas of the city of as the allotment spaces are in high demand in Belfast. There is also great potential to expand the project with over 107 hectares of potential land in the city centre alone, according to figures from the Forum for Alternative Belfast. It is clear that the local community are interested in the project - people have been contacting me by phone, email and Twitter.

A presentation of the work is on display in the weePLACE cabinet at PLACE from 1st - 21st December, and Seed bombs and information sheets can be collected. Follow the journey of the project on Twitter: @GrowingBelfast

- Andy Kenny

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PLACE is the Northern Ireland Regional Coordinator for somewhereto_, a nationwide project to help young people find the space they need to do the things they love within sport, culture and the arts. Run by Livity, in partnership with Channel 4, the project is funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity set up to help build a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across the UK.

Do you need somewhereto_ do the things you love? Get in touch with us...

- Tweet us: @somewhereto_NI
- Phone: 028 9023 2524

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice work, good to see something up in that area.