Naked table project comes to Abbeyleix

Growing your own food is de rigeur these days, but people can take it one step further in Abbeyleix next month, and make the table at which they eat it.

Growing your own food is de rigeur these days, but people can take it one step further in Abbeyleix next month, and make the table at which they eat it.

The Naked Table Project is a day long workshop where 15 participants or groups get to each build a table from locally sourced timber, plant a replacement tree, enjoy a meal together at their new tables, and then bring them home. A concept dreamed up by Irishman Charles Shackleton in Vermont, USA, it has enjoyed great success across the states for many years. On June 25 and 26, he brings it to Europe for the first time, to be hosted by his brother Arthur in Fruitlawn Gardens, Abbeyleix. The project coincides with an open weekend, when the public can come to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, browse local food stalls, and buy some rare plants.

Arthur Shackleton, a reknowned garden designer who has worked on Dromoland Castle and Coolmore Stud among other top locations, explained why they felt now a good time to bring the project to Ireland.

“It seems like good timing, when the economy is the way it is, local community is more important than ever. People seem to like the idea, it’s all about simplicity and sustainability,” he said.

The prized Irish oak from which the tables will be made comes from the historic Abbeyleix Demesne, and the tablemakers (no carpentry experience required) will enjoy a guided walk and picnic lunch in the woods, and see their replacement trees planted. Skilled furniture makers will give assistance on the project, and the 15 finished tables will then be placed end to end in the atmospheric Hornbeam Tunnel in Fruitlawn for the celebratory dinner, prepared by Sarah Webb of the Gallic Kitchen in Abbeyleix. All the table makers, their families, the foresters and loggers will share the meal, during which Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanic Garden of Ireland, will give a talk on the origins of the Irish oak.

The cost per table is E850, which includes one ticket to the dinner, and free entry to Fruitlawn Garden for the weekend. Public entry to the gardens, open from 10am to 50pm, is E5, with no charge for children.

All proceeds will go towards the autism unit in Scoil Mhuire, Abbeyleix.

Interest in the event is strong, reports Arthur, with non-participant tickets to the evening meal, priced at E35, now completely sold out.

“We have sold about 11 of the 15 places. Three are from the states, the rest are Irish. They are groups of families and friends, even kids can help make the table. It’s a fun day out,” he said.

For Workshop bookings contact Arthur Shackleton and Carol Booth at 057 8730146, or email carolbooth56@hotmail.com For more information check The Naked Table Project website.