Who We Are
We are a group of people of varying ages and ability-levels who meet every week at a large allotment at Vista Allotments in the Castlereagh hills. While we are a diverse group of people, we are united by our desire to work hard outside, even in the wind, rain, and snow!
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What We Do
We grow a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, including potatoes, courgettes, aubergines, currents, onions, and pumpkin. Our flock of six chickens also give us fresh eggs. As the harvest comes in, we take some of the fruit, vegetables, and eggs home with us, which helps us all to eat a bit healthier during the week. We put some of our produce into boxes which we share with our friends. The rest we give to Root Soup, a catering social enterprise that is also run by L’Arche Belfast. This helps Root Soup reduce its costs, and in exchange for the veg, they cook a healthy lunch for us every week!
While we work hard, the emphasis is always on community: we drink tea and coffee together, and eat lunch together (often prepared over an open fire). We have a commitment to helping other gardeners who need a bit of help in their own allotments or their home gardens. We have also invited outside individuals and groups to come and garden with us; what a great way to take a break from the office!
Why We Do It
In addition to transforming overgrown allotments into productive gardens, we strive for our garden to be a place where everyone who comes feels welcome, feels important, and feels they can contribute to the work. Contrary to social values which often place value on how much an individual can contribute, a garden honors the contribution and work of every person who comes, regardless of age, experience, or ability. People with learning disabilities are honoured not as “service users”, but as co-workers and community members – people with an equal part to play in the transformation of society.