St. Stephens Sustainable Food Lab

St. Stephen’s Sustainable Food Lab (SSFL) is a collective, member-led, urban agriculture project in Cork city. The group was initially formed in April 2016 as part of the ‘Greening the Historic Spine’ initiative led by the Cork Food Policy Council. Since May 2016, the group have created twenty one up-cycled planter boxes growing a variety of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers located throughout the city. In January 2017, with the support of the Cork Food Policy, the group which now has twenty members has been transforming a disused basketball court into a collective urban agriculture project using only recycled materials.

St. Stephens Park

St. Stephens Park

Located near Barrack Street in the centre of Cork city, St. Stephens Park was originally a burial ground related to a Baptist Church, organised by one Edward Riggs c. 1650. Upon his death the land was acquired by his wife who continued its use as a burial site, with ownership being recorded to a Simon Dring in 1852. The nature of activities at the location between 1852 and its purchase by the Cork City Council in 1969 are unclear. In 2005 the Council rejuvenated the site as a basketball court but the park fell into disrepair and came to the attention of the SSFL group in July of 2016.

St. Stephens park in Cork City, Ireland:

The Project

Cork Food Policy Council and members of Edible Greening group meeting on site in December 2017 to discuss plans

This project is a member-funded project and as such, each of the twenty members have paid a membership fee of €50 to get the project up and running without having to rely on outside funding and commercial sponsorship. The first year of the project is focused on growing food for its members. The project has four primary goals: (1) To create and maintain a grassroots collective sustainable food growing project (2) To grow edible plants (vegetables, herbs, flowers), trees and pollinator friendly perennials, collectively and organically, using only up-cycled materials and rainwater. (3) To learn about and experiment with urban agriculture techniques including composting, natural plant feeding and biodiversity enhancing practices. (4) To document and monitor progress on a weekly basis.

The ethos of the project is based on the seven food sovereignty pillars:

1. Focuses on food for the poeple

2. Builds knowledge and skills

3. Works with nature

4. Values food providers

5. Localises food systems

6. Puts control locally

7. Food is sacred

Regards from everyone at the SSFL!

Created By
Patrick Cross

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