Faith Matters

Larne 'creation care' group cultivates community and crops

Polytunnels and wildflowers in the overgrown walled garden at Drumalis in Larne. Work to transform the two-acre site should see the first crop of vegetables ready by September

THE overgrown walled garden at Drumalis Retreat and Conference Centre in Larne is at the centre of an ambitious plan to return it to food production.

The site is being rehabilitated by Jubilee Community Benefit Society, an inter-denominational Christian group which describes itself as a "creation care organisation".

Their vision for the two-acre garden, dubbed Jubilee Farm, goes beyond merely supplying fresh vegetables to people in the area - goats and pigs are due to arrive next month, for example, to help clear the site as well as provide food - to growing a better community.

"Jubilee is as much about cultivating community as it is about cultivating vegetables," explains Jonny Hanson, secretary and managing director of the group.

"Everybody loves old walled gardens and this is a chance to give it a new lease of life, while practising environmental and agricultural stewardship, and building relationships among the community."

A volunteer day is being held this Saturday, January 27, with others to follow on the fourth Saturday of every month.

There will be a short dedication service at 1pm and volunteer work is due to start at 2pm. A pop-up cafe will run from 1-5pm.

The first task is to prepare the ground for vegetable production later in the year.

"We are hoping to have a horticulturalist starting in June so that we can begin growing vegetables," said Mr Hanson, who explained that the site had been a garden centre for the past 30 years.

"Hopefully by September, Jubilee Farm subscribers will get a share of the produce."

By the end of the year, Jubilee Community Benefit Society plans to launch a community share offer to widen support and investment.

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