Youth take Action to go green

Laura Murphy, Laura Nutt, Emma Johnston, Aaron Cloete, Georgie Mullen, Conor McGilloway and Nicola McLaren. (0208SL15)
Laura Murphy, Laura Nutt, Emma Johnston, Aaron Cloete, Georgie Mullen, Conor McGilloway and Nicola McLaren. (0208SL15)

When it comes to growing vegetables Youth Action NI have it sewn it.

The Derry branch of Youth Action NI is in the Ebrington Centre on the Dungiven Road and for the last few months the organisation’s young people have been working with local gardening expert Gareth Austin to create a vegetable and herb grow box.

The project, which is called ‘Herbs On Your Kerb’, saw the young people design and create their own herb garden and local residents were in turn encouraged to take what they needed from it.

“It’s been a great project for our young people to involved in,” said Youth Action N.I. Young Men’s Development Worker, Connor McGilloway.

“Youth Action NI is all about presenting young people between 16 and 20 with positive solutions that in turn can help them to develop their lives and aspirations positively.”

After a crash course from Gareth Austin on how to plant and care for seeds, the Youth Action NI young people set out to create their vegetable and herb garden.

Since they planted their various seeds at the beginning of June, the young people, the Youth Action NI staff and even a few local residents have been making regular use of the small garden.

“We have onions, parsley, chives and I even think there are a few cabbages left over but if they are as popular as all of the other produce then I am sure they won’t stay there for long,” smiled Connor.

Michael Devlin is 19 years-old and is from Shepherd’s View.

Michael said he found working on the ‘Herbs On Your Kerb’ project to be both enjoyable and interesting.

“I didn’t really know anything about growing your own vegetables or anything like that but now I have tried it out it has given me the taste for it.

“It’s great to have so many opportunities here. Youth Action N.I. is opening so many doors for me.

“When I was at school we never really had anything like this but it’s important that young people like myself are still given a chance to shine.”

Local gardening expert Gareth Austin, who helped young people complete the ‘Herbs On Your Kerb’ project, said working in an outdoor environment can “promote positive mental health”.

“Being outside is great for promoting positive mental health, being exposed to fresh air, changing seasons all helps to relax the mind and soul,” he said.

In the past, Gareth has worked with Youth Action NI on ‘The Tree of Positive Solutions’, on which President Michael D. Higgins placed his own message of hope.

“When President Higgins met with Youth Action he helped create a Tree of Positive Solutions which is now in the City of Culture artist garden in the City Factory. That project led to Youth Action being invited to the President’s Garden Party, and Youth Action have been further invited to spend a day gardening in the President’s Garden!”

Gareth praised the efforts of Youth Action N.I. staff Connor McGilloway and Emma Johnston by saying that their enthusiasm for searching out new opportunities has proved extremely beneficial to the young people.

“The enthusiasm of both Connor and Emma in using the environment to promote positive mental health has to be admired,” he said.