Residents embrace allotments scheme

Published Sunday, 22 April 2012
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Residents of Bangor's Kilcooley estate are queuing up to reserve their space on the newly opened allotments scheme.

Residents embrace allotments scheme
Children work at the allotments in Bangor's Kilcooley esate. (© UTV)

The community-run project, based in Northern Ireland's third largest estate, aims to promote healthier and more active lives and promote neighbourhood cohesion through the maintenance of 18 plots.

Kilcooley Community Forum's Mark Gordon said he hopes the allotments will make those in the community look at their own lifestyle.

"We believe that it will improve their health, plus having to maintain their sites, digging the pots, turning the soil, it's all physical activity and again it will generate an interest in physical wellbeing."

The plots have been let to the estate's residents and other people across the borough, and while they will get to keep some of what is grown, a portion of it will be sold on.

Community groups have also embedded themselves into the project by leasing plots for their members to get their hands dirty as they plant and grow their produce.

And children from Kilcooley Primary School have become involved with the planting and gardening, and Vice-Principal Karen Maguire said the pupils are really enjoying it.

"It's outdoor, they get fresh air, so it's fantastic for developing all areas of the child," she told UTV.
Meanwhile, with the new project comes work placement opportunities and new jobs for those in long-term unemployment.

Richard Mailey, 18, is one of the head gardeners and said he feels the job has helped to turn his life around.

"I like working, I don't like sitting about. I've got a job here and I feel a lot better in myself that I know I can get up and go to work," he explained.

The 18 plots are just the start of the development at Kilcooley and phase two will see an unused car park area redeveloped into an area which will create further growing opportunities for individuals or groups such as the elderly, disabled and those with learning difficulties.

© UTV News
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