Work begins on new Acorn Farm in Derry’s St Columb’s Park

Work is set to begin on the initial site clearance of the old MOD site at St Columb’s Park in advance of the wider Acorn Farm regeneration project funded by the UK Levelling Up Fund and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 12:07 pm

Devity Construction have now been appointed to clear the old heli-pad site formerly used by the military based in the Waterside. The contracted works will involve the removal of the concrete hard stands used as part of the base and the crushing of materials for repurposing.

The works will prepare the site for the creation of an urban growing space within the City, as part of the wider improvement plans for the park. Council is currently preparing a tender to be advertised to appoint a Design Team to take forward the wider design development of the Acorn Farm project over the summer.

Acorn Farm is an exciting new environmental project that will enable the development of a high quality innovative urban food growing hub with a learning and skills development centre (Acorn Farm Skills Academy) as well as a sustainable food events venue. It will also boast high quality sustainable visitor infrastructure and experience with associated support infrastructure.

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The Mayor Councillor Sandra Duffy visited the former heli-pad site in St. Columb's Park at Browning Drive where work has commenced to break up the site to make way for the transformational Acorn Project. Included from left are, Jodie Nethery, devity, Shauna Kelpie, Acorn Fund, Simon Doran, DCSDC, Colin Kennedy, DCSDC, Cathy Burns DCSDC, Stephen Finlay, Area Lead - Northern Ireland, Department for Levelling Up, Alan Bogle, DCSDC, Robert Shearman, The Conservation Volunteers, Emma Barton, DCSDC and Christine Doherty, DCSDC.

Welcoming the appointment of the contractor, the newly installed Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy, said: “I am delighted to see works begin on the preparation of the site to make way for the next phase in the redevelopment of the St Columb’s Park site.

“The Acorn Farm project will be central to environmental activity at one of the City’s most important green spaces. It will provide learning opportunities and facilitate new programmes promoting greener more sustainable ways of living. I look forward to seeing the work progress and the roll out of the Acorn Project in its entirety.”

Welcoming the news today, a spokesperson for UKLUF said: “The Acorn Farm St Columb’s Park Regeneration project is one of three local projects to secure UK Levelling Up funding of over £16m, of this £5.6m has been allocated towards a £6.2m capital build for Acorn Farm.”

Minister for Levelling Up Neil O’Brien said: “I’m delighted to see work start at St Columb’s Park, supported by more than £5.6 million in government funding, which will greatly improve the sustainable food growing sector in Derry.

The Mayor Councillor Sandra Duffy visited the former heli-pad site in St. Columb's Park at Browning Drive where work has commenced to break up the site to make way for the transformational Acorn Project. Included from left are, Simon Doran, DCSDC, Alan Bogle, DCSDC, Cathy Burns DCSDC, Jodie Nethery, devity, Shauna Kelpie, Acorn Fund, Colin Kennedy, DCSDC, Stephen Finlay, Area Lead - Northern Ireland, Department for Levelling Up, Robert Shearman, The Conservation Volunteers, Emma Barton, DCSDC and Christine Doherty, DCSDC.

“We are levelling up every corner of the UK, working to improve access to environmental projects such as this hub in Northern Ireland offering learning and skills development to local communities.”​

Speaking as work commenced today, Shauna Kelpie, Acorn Fund Development Officer at the Community Foundation said: “It’s fantastic to see the innovative Acorn Farm being one step closer. This farm will be a huge resource for the local community, breaking new ground in providing sustainable food and environmental best practice. We are all very aware of the climate crisis that we are in and the farm will allow local people to get directly involved in learning about sustainable foods but also directly tackling climate change.”

Robert Shearman from The Conservation Volunteers organisation, said: “This is a wonderful project which will inspire people across Derry City and further afield to grow their own food and become more self-sufficient, while reducing their impact on the environment. The Acorn Farm will also be a significant attraction for visitors and tourists.”