Greenisland Allotment Gardens' story
Allotments are intended for small-to-medium scale cultivation, from flowering plants to edible vegetables. Besides supporting local access to affordable and healthy food, allotments are often green corridors and habitats for wildlife, supporting urban biodiversity conversation and restoration. In addition, these spaces can act as nature-based solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change, helping with both carbon sequestration and flood risk reduction. In terms of wellbeing benefits for those involved, public allotment gardens provide space for outdoor exercise, fresh air and community events, and are particularly cherished by those without gardens at home and for those experiencing isolation.
The Mid and East Antrim Borough Council set up the Greenisland Allotment Gardens over five years ago, following requests from local residents for wider access to local green areas. Its popularity led to more funding, not only to maintain the allotment gardens but also to upgrade the space - including the addition of an innovative compostable waterless toilet known as Kazuba. This eco-friendly toilet operates by using sunlight and wind to evaporate/dry human waste, without the need for water, electricity, or chemicals. Aside from the Kazuba, the grant money was also used to augment local capacity for cultivation by providing resources such as a polytunnel and storage unit, and by developing a comprehensive programme of community food growing and eco-gardening.
Thanks to these developments, community and school groups in Greenisland can now make better use of the outdoor space, through better facilities and horticulture training. Furthermore, as part of a sustainable food network of 300 allotments and community gardening services, the Greenisland Allotment Garden supports Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's wider carbon reduction efforts across the local authority area.
Image: CC Stock Photo
Useful learnings from Greenisland Allotment Gardens
- It is important to provide training and learning opportunities when encouraging local residents to join the grow-your-own movement through sustainable cultivation.
- Allotments offer a wide range of benefits in addition to the provision of locally-grown food and these should all be including when seeking more funds.
- Compostable waterless toilets like the Kazuba are a cost-effective and ecological facility to provide in public green spaces, as they require limited maintenance and do not require the expense and regulations need to plumb into the sewage network.
Greenisland Allotment Gardens' metrics
- Energy use and carbon emission reductions as part of the local authority's general plans to tackle climate change. Wildlife surveys, including species richness and species evenness, as part of the local biodiversity plan.