Your gardening questions answered: How do I start a community garden?

Get help from the experts before you start

Q: I would love to start a small community garden in my locality in a wide, long laneway. Any suggestions for starting points?


A: The community garden movement is one of the great success stories of the last decade with dozens of thriving new gardens created around the country by groups of enthusiastic individuals. These are often created with the help of local authorities, local businesses, local schools, religious bodies and other likeminded groups within the community that are happy to freely offer their skills and support, as well as the HSE, the Community Foundation for Ireland, local ETBs (Education and Training boards), Leader funding and GIY Ireland.

Some such as Mud Island Community Garden, in Dublin’s northeast inner city, are situated on former wasteland; others, such as Santry Community Garden in north Dublin, are located in the grounds of historic walled gardens. Some are situated in the grounds of local convents, as is the case with Gairdín Beo community garden in Co Carlow, and Glór na Mara community garden in Co Donegal, or within the grounds of local schools, as is the case with Ballon Community Garden in Co Carlow.


These beautiful, productive, communal growing spaces are typically managed sustainably with the focus firmly on using planet-friendly growing methods that are respectful of the environment and supportive of the locally-sourced, slow food movement. They also perform a very valuable social, cultural, environmental and educational role, strengthening local ties and providing spaces where people can come together to share life skills, offer friendship and support, and foster positive social change.

To find out more about the process of establishing a community garden in your own locality, I’d suggest getting in contact with Community Gardens Ireland (, the nationwide organisation that supports and promotes community gardens in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will help to walk you through the steps required. I’d also highly recommend visiting at least one established community garden in your area (CGI Ireland’s website has an online interactive map that you can search) to get some first-hand advice from its members as well as tips on how to avoid some of the common pitfalls from acquiring legal consent for use of that proposed strip of land that you mention to ways of securing essential funding for things like tools and plants.

Many seasoned community garden groups also highly recommend initially employing the services of a knowledgeable and experienced horticulturist, both at the early design stage, as well as for a few hours a week during the growing season, as a way to quickly upskill members of the group.

The horticulturist Dee Sewell of Carlow-based Greenside Up (she’s also one of CGI Ireland’s founding members) is someone with unrivalled experience in this regard. Check out her excellent website for examples of community garden case studies that she’s worked on. Last but not least, get in contact with GIY whose Get Ireland Growing campaign was first launched back in 2016 with the support of Energia with the express aim of supporting community food growing projects nationwide (see and Best of luck!

Fionnuala Fallon

Fionnuala Fallon

Fionnuala Fallon is an Irish Times contributor specialising in gardening