Ballyduff Biodiversity Project: Planting a Community Orchard

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Pictured (left): Dave Fitzgibbons (NEWKD) and Mary Kiernan (Transition Kerry)
(Right): Caroline Lynch, Lisa Fingleton, Niamh Ní Dhúill, Breda Bambury, Mary Kiernan, Mary Behan, Susan Browne, Christine Best, John O’Sullivan, Tom Sheehy

Ballyduff Tidy Towns have planted a community orchard in Ballyduff, together with Transition Kerry course facilitators and other Community Biodiversity Leadership course participants. It’s been a challenge for community groups like Tidy Towns and Transition Kerry during the pandemic and projects had been put on hold due to restrictions. But Ballyduff Tidy Towns were finally able to get the planting underway, and twelve apple trees were set in the community garden space in Ballyduff near the church and Men’s shed. Happily, the weather was on their side. The apple trees will attract pollinators and provide habitats for local wildlife, as well as providing organic locally produced apples for Ballyduff. Growing fruit and veg locally helps reduce the need for imported food, which is responsible for huge carbon used in transport, as well as its packaging.

Mary Kiernan, course coordinator of Transition Kerry, Biodiversity and Climate Change Community Leadership Programme said: “The Ballyduff community orchard project is a great example of community leadership and collaboration between Tidy Towns, community members, the Men’s Shed, NEWKD, BUDS FRC, Diocesan Trust, County Council with the possibility for other agencies to get involved”. Community members remarked on the many health and well being impacts from involvement in this project and look forward to welcoming other participants into what is a fantastic community resource.

Members of Kilflynn Biodiversity Group and Lisa Fingleton from The Local Food Project also came to support and take part in the planting.
With demonstrations from course facilitator Niamh Ní Dhúill, the community group learned how to plant the trees with adequate spacing and nourish them with compost and seaweed dust. The trees were staked to avoid root rock.

The participants also learned different ways of mulching around the tree base for best practice in soil protection, water retention and tree growth. Local resources, which could be considered a waste material, were used as a free mulching resource. Each tree was mulched using materials such as cardboard, grass cuttings, seaweed, stones and logs. Niamh said: “When you place logs under trees, you’re providing a habitat for many important insects and pollinators – it’s like having a bug hotel around each tree.”

Transition Kerry Biodiversity and Climate Change Community Leadership Programme is funded by an NEWKD, LEADER, EU programme