“It is clear that food security and climate change, humanity’s two greatest challenges in the 21st century, are inextricably linked. We need to recognize the critical importance of enabling smallholders to become more resilient to climate change and to grow more food in environmentally sustainable, climate-smart ways." KANAYO F. NWANZE, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (2011)
Since 2012 the Edible Landscape Project (ELP), an education and training initiative, has been helping to educate the Westport community on the complex issue of local food security and its close connection to climate change. In the process, the ELP has developed a very effective series of core edible planting WORKSHOPS using the Forest Gardening technique.
EDIBLE LANDSCAPE WORKSHOPS
Forest gardening comprises a sustainable land management system using edible trees and shrubs. ELP's edible planting workshops then, while exploring food security, also address issues such as water and soil management and the protection of local biodiversity, and can help improve participants mental and physical health. Moreover it is easy for workshop participants, most with little or no horticultural knowledge, to later replicate the technique at home. Ancillary techniques required for successful forest gardening include fruit tree grafting and fruit tree pruning. These 3 techniques comprise the bulk of ELP workshops
ELP Workshops take place along Westport Town Greenway, the Great Western Greenway (GWG) and in Westport town itself. These are mainly public spaces so the fruits of the trees and shrubs will be available for everyone to enjoy in years to come. Participants attending ELP Workshops include both adults and children as well as mixed aged community groups. ELP workshop costs are kept deliberately low so that anyone who wishes to can attend.
HERITAGE TREE RESEARCH
Between 2013 and 2015 the ELP received funding from Mayo County Council as part of the Historic Towns Initiative. This funding has helped us research the identity of the local and heritage fruit and nut trees. These have been slowly disappearing from the GWG area as sites containing old orchards are redeveloped. We've taken dozens of apple tree grafts which will be replanted in new locations along the Greenway at ELP workshops in 2016 and beyond.The Great Western Greenway passes through the historic towns of Westport, Newport and Mulranny before reaching Achill Sound. The Benefits Of An Edible Landscape.
The idea of growing an edible landscape along the Great Western Greenway originated at a Westport community enterprise event in 2012 (SHeDD Talks), which focused on the power of the community to inspire local food growing projects.
If you would like to take part in one of our workshops please contact us.