Community members came together from Bushmills and Ballycastle recently, as part of Volunteers Week 2024, to help one another within their community gardens.

Marking 40 years of volunteer’s week, Bushmills & District Community Garden hosted volunteers from Corrymeela for a day of collaboration, learning and fun.

The day started with an insightful tour and discussion, led by the dedicated Bushmills Garden group. Corrymeela members learned about the group’s ongoing efforts to cultivate and sustain the garden, followed by some joint volunteering work – planting potatoes in the freshly dug potato patch.

The day’s activities continued with a foraged lunch at the Designerie, provided by Paul from Wild Walk Bushcraft. Natural treats included venison stew, emmer bread and sorrel tartlets.

The afternoon saw a botanical workshop, led by local artist, and Arts Council NI’s artist of the month for May 2024, Charys Wilson, where volunteers crafted replicas of local plants using recycled materials.

Feedback highlighted the connections made between one another, the ideas and contacts shared, and most importantly, the volunteering aspect, as one participant reflected: “working in the mucky muck, shoveling dirt and planting potatoes, together.”

The day was organised by Enterprise Causeway as part of their Connecting Communities project, as a way of bringing together the two groups, to bond and learn from one another. A return trip to Corrymeela is being planned for the coming weeks.

Speaking about organising the day, CEO of Enterprise Causeway, Jayne Taggart stated: “Celebrating 40 years as a social enterprise, it was fitting to honor Volunteer Week’s 40th anniversary by dedicating a day to our local community. Our longstanding partnership with Bushmills & District Community Garden, developed through the Courthouse Shared Space Creative Hub project, has been incredibly rewarding, and after a recent conversation with Catherine O’Hara (Corrymeela’s Supporter Relationship Manager) at our Federation for Small Business event, we saw a wonderful opportunity for collaboration.

“We were very keen to craft a day that would be of benefit to everyone, connecting the themes of the garden, friendship and learning. Judging by everyone’s enjoyment, and the knowledge and contacts shared, I think the day did just that, and we are really looking forward to our next visit to Ballycastle.”

Corrymeela Community leader, Alex Wimberly, also commented on the outing: Volunteer week is a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves how good it is to get ourselves rolled up, and our hands dirty – working shoulder to shoulder with our neighbours and our friends.

 “Our volunteers had the most wonderful day at the Bushmills Community Garden and we look forward to welcoming our new friends to Corrymeela over the Summer months. A better future for all of us begins when we choose to get involved locally, in common projects. I would like to thank Jayne Taggart and Cathy McGarry at Enterprise Causeway, for helping to organise this event, and applaud all those who took part in activities or supported the work of volunteers this week.”

Members of Bushmills Community Garden welcomed volunteers from Corrymeela, Ballycastle recently, as part of Volunteers Week 2024, to help one another within their community gardens. The day was organised by Enterprise Causeway as part of their Connecting Communities project, as a way of bringing together the two groups, to bond and learn from one another.

Some potato patch planting as part of the volunteer’s day at Bushmills Community Garden.

Putting their green fingers to good use. Members of Bushmills Community Garden and Corrymeela, Ballycastle collaborate during volunteers week.

Corrymeela Gardening Committee leader, and responsible for volunteers, Marian McLoughlin (centre), assembles some arch trestles with Bushmills garden members, Elizabeth McCallum and Lettie McMullan.

Highlighting the culinary potential of garden and wild ingredients, Paul from Wild Walk Bushcraft, treated volunteers to a scrumptious lunch upstairs in the Designerie.

Local artist, Charys Wilson, takes a craft class, where volunteers replicated local plants using recycled materials.

Seeds of friendships planted. Volunteers proudly display their handmade plant creations as part of Charys workshop.