Woman with seedling smiles at boy holding trowel

Acorn Farm – I Can Grow project

Over the past year, many of us have become mini climate heroes through growing our own fruit and veg.

If you have done this yourself, you will know there are probably few things more satisfying than watching the first strawberries appear, or those tomatoes finally beginning to turn red!

Apart from having delicious food ready to pick from the garden, ‘growing your own’ is also a great way to get kids involved in a fun activity and can even encourage picky eaters to sample the fruit and veg they have helped to grow.

The planet benefits as well when we find ways to live more sustainably. It can help to reduce our carbon footprint and even make us more aware of where our food comes from.

It’s small things like this which can add up to making a positive difference to the environment – as over 250 families living in the North West have discovered!

People planting lettuce

The Acorn Farm, I Can Grow project is a new environmental project led by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, delivered in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council. It is also supported by the National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund – designed to help communities living throughout the UK reduce their carbon footprint.

Families participating in the I Can Grow project receive equipment and mentoring from Derry City and Strabane District Council’s horticulturalist.

The project has brought together young and old – from the little ones who are passionate about doing their bit for the environment, to those who wish to pass on their experience to the next generation.

The Kivlehan’s are just one of the families participating in the I Can Grow project.

People planting lettuce in a wooden planter
Anne Kivlehan and her son John getting some growing tips from the Council’s horticulturalist

As a Primary 1 Teacher and mum of an energetic 9 year old, Aine Kivlehan, has a great grasp of the positive impact on children and family life of growing your own food.

Having done a little bit of growing in the past, Aine was so excited to see the Acorn Farm, I can grow Project’s call out for interest to people in the Derry City and Strabane District area and signed up to be part of it.

Since then, Aine and her son John have really embraced growing together; reusing old wiring and containers to nurture their very own fruit and vegetables and taking great care of the seeds in the raised bed supplied by the Project horticulturalist.

As Anne says “John really loves checking on the veg and watering the plants and I’ve enjoyed getting some tips from the horticulturalist which I’ve passed onto friends. It’s lovely being able to lift something from your back garden and bring it into the kitchen to cook for dinner.

Boy with watering can

It has been catching too with neighbours popping over to have a look and being inspired to give growing a go themselves.

Aine looks forward to the time when, as a community, they can begin to come together, share produce and have little tasting sessions in each other’s gardens.

“We have to take care of our community and ‘I can grow’ is empowering us to be more self-sufficient while cutting out all the pollution involved in transporting food.

“As a family, we hope that the I Can Grow project is the start of a wider movement saving families money, helping them eat a bit healthier while caring for our environment & instilling that ethos within our children.”

To find out more about the Acorn Farm ‘I Can Grow Project’ visit: Derry City & Strabane – I Can Grow (derrystrabane.com)

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