A GARDEN for all abilities will be created in Stradbally over the coming months, and it sprang into life when sports journalist Tracy Piggott came to turn the first sod recently.
Located behind the labourers cottages on a two acre field donated by Laois County Council, the garden will be open for all to enjoy, especially people with special needs. Its design features multi sensory elements, a frogpond, petting area, and vegetable plots for the community to use. It will also have a nursery for native and Christmas trees.
With the help of a €30,000 grant from Laois Partnership, work is already underway, and it is expected to be ready in July.
The garden is being created by Laois Autism Resource Centre, who are based in Stradbally and provide support and therapy for people with ASD and their families, particularly through the use of horses and other animals. Ms Piggott is a patron of the centre, and indeed became a trained horse therapist herself after seeing the positive effect horses have on children with autism. Musician Liam O’Maonlai is also a patron of the centre.
Margaret Whelan, founder of Laois ARC, is inviting the community to get involved with the garden.
“A good community garden project is made by local people. We hope that young and old will use it for play, learning, meeting, and socialising, as well as gardening. It can make a massive contribution to community development,” she said.
Vegetable and fruit growers will be encouraged to tend it, with the harvest to be shared by all at the end of the summer.
“Even a few hours a week would be appreciated. It will be a unique focal point in the town where children with special needs can feel part of the community, by gardening, learning and socialising with other Stradbally residents,” she said.
Courses will be run at the garden on therapies and on life skills such as basket weaving and organic gardening.
As with Laois ARC, the garden will be run by volunteers, so fundraising will be essential to its success.
“We greatly appreciate the help of any volunteers who may be interested in fundraising for us. In particular we are looking for ladies to participate in the Flora Womens Mini Marathon this year,” said Ms Whelan.
They have textile recycling banks in Campus (Mountmellick Road), Apple Green (Old Dublin Road), Supervalu Stradbally and Dunnes Pub Stradbally.
For fundraising enquiries contact Margaret on 087 9214647. To get involved with the community garden, contact Micheál O’Loinsigh on 087 2827398.