Karen Grow-It-Yourself Community Garden
The Karen GIY Community Garden in Ballina is approximately half an acre and is divided into different areas, including a vegetable garden, a herb garden, a fruit garden, an orchard, a polytunnel, and a bee friendly flower garden. It is also home to several beehives, an insect hotel, a cob oven and nesting boxes.
In 2014 the garden was awarded first prize in all Ireland in the national Tidy Towns Competition under the category ‘Sustainable Development’. The garden was awarded An Taisce’s Green Flag in 2019. However, the garden does not stand still and each year strives to continuously improve and develop.
The Karen GIY Community Garden in Ballina is a joint project between the Karen Community and GIY (Grow-it-Yourself) Ballina. The Karen people who now live in Ballina are refugees from Burma/Myanmar.
In 2007 eight Karen families were resettled in Ballina where they have become very much part of the community. Bishop Fleming leased the Community part of his orchard and vegetable garden so that they would be able to have a place to grow their own food.
Later they were joined by the Ballina GIY group who provided assistance to develop the garden. It is quickly becoming a model for community gardens everywhere. Community garden projects have contributed a great deal to our collective quality of life over the last decade, sometimes in unexpected ways. Their contribution towards community interaction is strengthened by community gardening’s inclusivity. Gardening is one of the few activities that people from all walks of life can engage in.