LIMERICK CITY Council officials have denied that a pilot allotment project in the city has been allowed to go to ruin.
The Limerick Leader was contacted this week to investigate the Ballynanty allotment project, which was launched to much fanfare by former Mayor Cllr Maria Byrne and the local authority in May of last year, after the claim was made that the raised allotment beds were overgrown and that participants in the scheme had lost interest in it.
The Leader visited the site this Tuesday and it is apparent that some of the beds need to be tended to, but Paul Foley, Senior Executive Officer with Limerick City Council’s environment department, defended the project, saying there was still strong interest in it.
“We have checked it and it is very favourable given the time of the year that we are in, given that it wouldn’t be an ideal growing period,” said Mr Foley.
“About eight of the plots need attending, that wouldn’t be unusual. There is no litter or rubbish. It will kick start again now in March, we will be allocating the leases for 2012 and almost all of the people involved have come back to say they are interested in continuing again during the course of this year,” he added.
Indeed the city council official stressed that the allotment project was one “that we are very pleased with and how it has gone, some people worked very diligently on it. There are things we learned from it, given that it was our first year”.
The allotment area is a raised bed site based in Ballynanty - just off the Knockalisheen Road - and was home to a former flat complex which was demolished in 2007.
Twenty-six allotments - of 7 x 1.5 metres each - were awarded at random to some of the 120 applicants who expressed interest in the project
Former Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Maria Byrne, who described the initiative as a “pet project” when she launched it in May 2011, also defended it this week.
“I know several people who only took their crops out of there recently and there are several organisations around the city who use it regularly,” she explained.
“Now would be the time that they would go back in to grow their crops again, but all of them have been in active use since last year. They have been going successfully and the majority took ownership of the plots. People are still involved up there and nobody has handed it back.”