Colin Glen Community Garden Peacemeal

Colin Glen Community Garden

Cath Thompson tells us about a community meal in Belfast, made with fresh produce from a unique peace-building garden.

Whilst living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I learned much about cross-community peacebuilding through the relationships I formed, through my studies, and especially by holding PeaceMeals.

PeaceMeals is a program I started to bring individuals to the kitchen and around the table to learn about cooking, nutrition, and wellness – with the goal of forming supportive community and being fully nourished.

Welcome to the garden

In Belfast, I was introduced to the Colin Glen Community Garden and Allotments. This peacebuilding project brings the community together to grow some of their food in a local, sustainable and organic way.

Colin-Glen-Community-Garden-PeacemealIt was such a natural fit with what we do at PeaceMeals, so we used some of their produce and hosted a PeaceMeal, in partnership with Groundwork NI. We cooked up a delicious and nourishing brunch with lots of locally-sourced, organic produce.

The community at Colin Glen has been building a garden in their neighbourhood as a development project that is both practical and beautiful.

I was so impressed by the overabundance of rainbow chard, rocket, herbs, rhubarb, potatoes, and gorgeous edible flowers, many of which I had never seen before. Never before had a PeaceMeal been so locally-sourced!

From conflict to cooking

As everyone assembled and sipped their green smoothies, we shared stories of memorable meals (steamed fish cooked only once per month because it was so stinky!) and growing up during tough times in this neighbourhood.

The menu focused on “calming” foods, combining lots of calcium and magnesium, as well as B vitamins. Everyone “mucked in” (as they say here in Belfast) to cook a hearty menu including a crust-less chard, mushroom, gruyere and walnut quiche.

There was also warm herbed potato salad, locally foraged green salad with goat’s cheese and honey mustard and dill dressing, and a strawberry and rhubarb oat crumble with homemade vanilla frozen yogurt.

We chatted and laughed and made a mess. Some of the guys even broke into song and dance. Though cooking may seem daunting, getting messy in the kitchen is truly the most human of acts as long as we allow ourselves to have fun.

All of a sudden, the meal was ready! We sat down at the beautiful spread and marvelled at how our hard work had taken us from garden to kitchen to table.

Also, sitting in the community centre which was formerly the headquarters of the commanding police officer, we marvelled at how far the community had come: from conflict to community gardening to cooking. Total transformation!

I applaud the Colin Glen community for their hard work and determination to transform formerly derelict spaces and relationships into places of life and abundance. And I can’t wait to see what the harvest produces next!

About the author

Cath Thompson is the founder and director of PeaceMeals, a program which brings individuals together in the kitchen and around the table for education on cooking, nutrition, and wellness, often in the wake of trauma or difficult seasons of life.

Cath has a background in peacebuilding and security, while working in the charitable and philanthropic sectors. Cath loves to gather people around the table to be nourished and refreshed across the divides of culture, politics, and religion, through good food, good conversation, and good community.

Story adapted from this original post and republished with permission of the author.

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One thought on “Colin Glen Community Garden”

  1. I remember doing some conservation work there, gosh it would be around 15 years ago or more. Nice place and nice people trying to bridge the gap between two communities.

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