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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 19 May 2022

This garden in Bloom won't have one blade of grass

Coined a ‘slum’ garden, the designer hopes it’s going to be unlike any other at the festival.

THERE IS ALWAYS strong competition among the gardens at the Bloom Festival to stand out from the pack and this year humanitarian agency GOAL is thinking outside the box.

The agency is building what it terms a slum’ garden at Bloom in the Park this June Bank Holiday weekend.

‘Slum’ garden

GOAL’s ‘slum’ garden will highlight the issue of rural to urban migration.

It aims to represent some of the many ways in which GOAL is working with people living in these informal urban settlements to help improve their health, livelihood opportunities, and general quality of life.

GOAL Bloom garden CGI 2

The garden has been designed by Joan Mallon who visited Kenya with GOAL last month, where she spent some time touring Mukuru slum to witness and learn about the challenges that people face first-hand.

Mallon says she was able to take some of the elements she saw on her trip and incorporate them into her garden for Bloom.

The GOAL garden will demonstrate how techniques like micro-gardening, bag gardening, recycling and rain-water harvesting help families make the most of these uncompromising living environments.

GOAL Bloom garden CGI 1

The garden also includes a children’s play area, a central community resource centre, a shop, a toilet, a water pump, a chicken coop (complete with chickens) and a hair salon.

Living in an extreme environment 

The aim is to show how people live in some of the most extreme environments on the planet and make the most of the space they have to ensure their families are provided for. Mallon said:

The trip was well worth it. I have the experience now to talk with more authority about the challenges faced by families living in these settlements, while I am also confident that each of the elements that I plan to include in the garden is authentic. It also might explain why you won’t see a blade of grass in the garden!


Mallon said the garden include shacks that will emulate the living conditions she witnessed. She said she hoped that people would engage with the garden, adding that regular visitors to Bloom will know that a ‘slum’ garden isn’t the type of garden you would normally expect to see at the festival.

“But then that’s the whole idea. We want this space to stand out from the rest.”

Mallon said she hope the garden will have “a soul, a message and that it will get people thinking”.

My hope is that it will do justice to the resilience, strength, joy and the positivity of Mukuru and its people.

Bloom 2015 opens tomorrow 28 May. 

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