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The Grow Dome Project via Facebook
flanagan's field

Community garden turns derelict Fatima Mansions site green

The garden will be launched next week.

A COMMUNITY GARDEN in the capital has seen locals and Dublin City Council turning a derelict space into a vibrant green area.

Flanagan’s Field Community Garden is located on Reuben St in Fatima, Dublin 8, on the site of the old Fatima Mansions housing and has been running for a number of years.

It will get its official launch on 20 September, along with the unveiling of Dublin’s first geodesic grow dome there.

A grow dome is an “intensive all-year-round sustainable food growing tool” , which will be used as a community meeting and education area, an arts and music exhibition space “and an iconic artwork in its own right”, say the grow dome team.

Derelict to green

The site was previously derelict, having initially been earmarked for housing that was not completed due to the recession.

The local Back of the Pipes Residents’ Association saw the potential of the site, and in how it could link people around the community.

They began the process in 2011, and soon Dublin City Council was on board, allowing them to develop the area with them.

“They were brilliant,” said Dougal Hazel, one of the garden’s volunteers. “They gave us a lot of ideas about what to do when it came to conserving water and they were able to provide a bit of funding and some soil to get us going.”

They created beds for the garden, inspired in its design by a 1756 map of the area.  They also landscaped rubble into features.

The project was so successful that DCC gave them more space at the side of the garden that could be used, which opened the project up “to bigger possibilities”, said Hazel.

This led to homework groups and community groups setting up initiatives, and it also led to a grow dome being created.

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The geodesic dome is 90% finished and the locals are hugely excited by what it will add to Flanagan’s Fields.

It’s planned that youth groups, afterschool clubs and gardeners will be among the groups able to use the dome. Inside the dome, there is tiered bedding based on a paddyfield system that uses water harvesting.

The grow dome will use harvested rainwater and an off-grid hydroponic technique to produce well over 1,000 lettuces per week, every week, all year round.

It is planned that it will work with community centres and local business to distribute produce to the needy, and any donations generated will support regular dome festivities.

Bonding the community

A huge amount of local people and groups are involved in the garden, as well as DCC, and it’s enabling 20 gardeners to have their own allotment space in the city.

“It’s very exciting – we’re cutting our teeth on it as well, ” said Hazel. It has been a real learning experience for everyone involved.

He said that it has also bonded members of the community who might not normally have had much in common.

It has upped people’s enjoyment of the area. It’s everybody that has created it – it’s a trickle effect.

The garden recently won three awards in the South Central Area Neighbourhoods District Awards, and will be taking part in another two awards ceremonies soon.

Flanagan’s Field and the Grow Dome Project in Fatima Mansions will be unveiled by Lord Mayor on 20 September with an event running from 2pm – 6pm.

Read: Pop-up community festival brings organic food to Dublin city today>

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