Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Best Kept Allotment Judging Date Announced

The Eden Allotment Gardens Best Allotment Competition, sponsored by Sunnybank Garden Centre is to take place at the beginning of July this year.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer with Carrickfergus Borough Council said “It’s part of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Competition. Each year the village enters Translink Ulster in Bloom (which is part of Britain in Bloom) along with the other Borough towns of Carrickfergus, Whitehead and Greenisland.”

Not only is Eden as a whole going to be judged, but also the allotments within it where keen gardeners who have been tending their plots of land will have their efforts recognised. This competition involves everyone who owns an allotment at the Eden site.

The ‘in Bloom’ competitions focus on creating a cleaner and greener environment through action in the community. The areas where participants can earn top marks are in horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation.

The judges will be looking for: environment sustainability; the variety & quality of the crop; the control of weeds & rubbish; the use of compost; general appearance; creativity of each plot.

The Best Allotment Competition prizes are: 1st Prize: £60.00 Gift Voucher plus two Runner-Up Prizes: £35.00 Gift Voucher. The award ceremony will take place at the October Carrickfergus in Bloom Prize Giving lunch.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer continued “Carrickfergus Borough Council is committed to improving the quality of life for all the people of Borough through the services it provides including our Allotment Service. We opened are allotment site at Eden in 2008. What started as 36 plots has grown to 198 plots and we are now the largest allotment gardens in Ireland. I would encourage residents of the Borough to visit Eden Allotment Gardens off Beltoy Road to view what the allotmenteers have achieved. The quality of the plots will make it difficult to pick our winners but all allotment holders should be proud of their achievements. We would like to thank Sunnybank Garden Centre who kindly sponsored the Best Kept Allotment Competition. Those residents that do not have an allotment can join our Mayor and take the ‘One Pot Pledge’ or just put up a floral basket or window box”

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Foster Carers at Eden Allotments

Foster Care Fortnight got off to a sizzling start at Eden Allotment Gardens in Carrickfergus this week. A barbecue was hosted at Eden Allotments, where 10 foster families from the Borough grow their own vegetables. Guests were treated to a cookery demonstration using the produce harvested at the site.

Underpinning the event was the serious message that fostering in Northern Ireland is under increasing pressure due to the continuing rise in numbers of children needing care and the ongoing shortage of carers.

With more children coming into care, the Fostering Network says that 200 extra foster carers are urgently needed to look after children on a long-term basis, in most cases until they reach adulthood.

Foster carers are needed for children of all ages, but specifically for teenagers, who now make up 50 per cent of the care population. All children in foster care, whatever their age and background, need carers with a diverse range of skills who can make a real and lasting difference to their lives.

Foster Care Fortnight 2010 runs from 17 to 30 May, and highlights the need for more foster carers in Northern Ireland to provide long-term care for children.


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Launch of Carrickfergus in Bloom 2010

The Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee, Alderman May Beattie, launched the Carrickfergus in Bloom 2010 campaign in the grounds of the historic Andrew Jackson Cottage on Friday. School children from throughout Carrickfergus Borough and Community representatives also joined in to the sounds of the APEX Jazz Band.

"Carrickfergus Borough Council is encouraging everyone who lives within the Borough of Carrickfergus to ‘do one more thing’ for Carrickfergus in Bloom. Whether you fill a hanging basket, enter one of the 10 competitions, plant a tree, grow some fruit and vegetables or put up bird box. There is something for everyone to do to make our Borough bloom this year.” said Alderman Beattie.

"The Council will be planting thousands of summer and spring flowering plants, hundreds hanging baskets as well as thousands of spring flowering bulbs this year. Our tree-planting initiative and the continued reduction of bedding plants in favour of more permanent planting are the ways we are enhancing the environment and biodiversity of Carrickfergus Borough for today and for tomorrow." continued Alderman Beattie

"We will again be organising the Borough-wide Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competitions. Local communities are encouraged to take part by entering the Best Kept Front Garden and Window Box Competitions. Allotment holders at Eden can enter the Best Kept Allotment Competition sponsored by Sunnybank Garden Centre. Children can take part in the Painting, Poetry, and Tallest Sunflower competitions. Local businesses will also be asked to participate by entering the Best Kept Shop and other Commercial premises section. And Web users and keen photographers can enter the Virtual Flower Show. continued Alderman Beattie

“Carrickfergus Borough Council along with the Department of Environment, Housing Executive and various Community Groups are working together to improve the beauty of Carrickfergus with the use of flowers, colourful shrubs and trees. The significant improvements at the Marine Highway is an excellent example of partnership working." ended Alderman Beattie

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Mayor of Carrickfergus joins ‘One Pot Pledge

The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Patricia McKinney unveiled her mini allotment in a pot and has taken up the ‘One Pot Pledge’. The Mayor will be growing vegetables, herbs and even strawberries at the Carrickfergus Civic Centre courtyard this summer.

Alderman McKinney said "We want to encourage Carrickfergus Citizens to make the One Pot Pledge and sow, grow and harvest their own food for the very first time in 2010."

"Growing food, even on a small scale in just a pot, gives people the chance to connect with the food they eat. As well as saving money and encouraging healthier eating, growing fruit and vegetables also helps people to make more sustainable food choices."

"We are trying to promote growing your own food and vegetables, getting families and children involved and getting their hands dirty. It's a growing movement throughout the country and we're just hoping to encourage that within our Borough too."

"Carrickfergus Borough has already an excellent track record at encouraging our citizens to grow their own. The Borough is the home of the largest allotment site in Ireland and we have successfully run the Carrickfergus School Growing Clubs initiative that encourages pupils to grow and eat fruit and vegetables in their school grounds." ended Alderman McKinney.

The Mayor is not the only politician embracing the "grow your own" movement. David Cameron will be taking over Gordon Brown’s vegetable garden at Downing Street. Barack Obama has a herb and vegetable patch at the White House. And even the Queen has turned a corner of palace backyard into an allotment.

To join the campaign, go to Carrickfergus in Bloom website, which features growing advice and tips." At the site you can follow the Mayor’s progress and even upload your own photographs to show how your own ‘One Pot Pledge’ is growing!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

'Green' exercise quickly 'boosts mental health'

Just five minutes of exercise in a "green space" such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim. There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being. In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem. The study in the Environmental Science and Technology journal suggested the strongest impact was on young people. The research looked at many different outdoor activities including walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming in locations such as a park, garden or nature trail. The biggest effect was seen within just five minutes. With longer periods of time exercising in a green environment, the positive effects were clearly apparent but were of a smaller magnitude, the study found. Looking at men and women of different ages, the researchers found the health changes - physical and mental - were particularly strong in the young and the mentally-ill.

A bigger effect was seen with exercise in an area that also contained water - such as a lake or river. Study leader Jules Pretty, a researcher at the University of Essex, said those who were generally inactive, or stressed, or with mental illness would probably benefit the most from "green exercise". "Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health." He also said exercise programmes outdoors could benefit youth offenders. "A challenge for policy makers is that policy recommendations on physical activity are easily stated but rarely adopted widely."

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said the research is yet further evidence that even a short period of green exercise can provide a low cost and drug-free therapy to help improve mental wellbeing. "It's important that people experiencing depression can be given the option of a range of treatments, and we would like to see all doctors considering exercise as a treatment where appropriate." Mind runs a grant scheme for local environmental projects to help people with mental illness get involved in outdoor activities.