Why An Allotment Is So Much More Than Just A Place To Grow Vegetables

by Gazette Reporter
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By Feebee Foran

On the eve of Covid 19 hitting Ireland, I was celebrating “getting the keys” to my very first allotment. 

Although I had been growing my own vegetables for years, the thought of having a larger space that I could design, develop and work with nature, all to myself, made me feel like I was embarking on something special.  I genuinely could not have foreseen the impact that this little plot of soil in Bohernabreena would have in my life over the months that followed. 

An allotment is so much more than just a place to grow vegetables, and it very quickly spreads its roots right throughout your life and most importantly your heart.

Much more than Muck

I am a very proud member of the bustling and thriving community of enthusiastic growers and nature lovers at Bohernabreena Allotments.  These allotments are situated in the most beautiful surroundings, overlooking Mount Seskin, with glimmers of the cityscape peeping through on clear days.  I never get tired of losing myself weeding or digging in my plot, only to stand up and be momentarily stunned by the view, as if it’s the first time I have ever seen it. 

Ann and Noel McGrane with Jimmy and Baby Conor Philbbs

When we were first thrust into lockdown, with temporary redundancies to follow, my allotment became the constant in my life. I treated it as my job, packing my lunchbox and flask in the morning before heading “up the hill” to work my soil in the company of the loveliest people who were all experiencing the same uncertainty. A natural socially distant hobby, having your own allotment meant you could be close to likeminded people, while also maintaining your distance.  Bonds were formed as we all became each other’s new “work” colleagues, with the usual slagging of who was working hardest, who was taking too many breaks and who was “taking a half day” if they left before 5pm. 

Bohernabreena Allotments invited Knocklyon and Firhouse Men’s Shed to join the community, with free plots for their members. 

Bohernabreena Allotments

Established in 2012, Bohernabreena Allotments were the dream of Paddy Phibbs, a dream realised by his children before his passing in 2017.  To this day, Paddy’s memory is very much at the forefront of every part of the allotments.  As you drive in, you are greeted by a road sign letting you know that you are on Paddy’s Lane, quickly followed by a plaque that reads “Hope Grows Here”. 

Now managed by Paddy’s son, Jimmy Phibbs, the allotments have gone from strength to strength, particularly recently with a massive facilities investment of €15,000, providing the tenants with a new bathroom block, a Clubhouse shed with a fully functioning kitchen and also, a library shed, where allotmenters can share their books, gardening guides and just spend few moments reading with a view of the mountains. 

Since its inception, the allotment has grown to 40 plots, with 14 of the original tenants still working their plots almost 10 years later. 

Feebee Foran won the Hardest Worked Plot with Jimmy Phibbs

Golden Soil

When it comes to growing vegetables, you can find a vast variety of crops growing in Bohernabreena Allotments.  The holy trinity of Spuds, Carrots and Onions are ever present in most plots, however you can also find unusual and exotic veg like Balloon Fruit, Pak Choi, Kohlrabi, Artichokes growing in abundance.  With such fertile soil in Bohernabreena, it’s as if the land just wants plants to thrive. 

With a diverse membership, plot holders all bring their own new additions to the community, growing fruit and vegetables from their countries of origin, which is a fantastic way to discover new crops to grow, taste and experiment with.  Ideas, tips and knowledge are shared as regularly as spare seeds are passed over the fence.  A true community spirit where everyone supports each other, while also having the craic.


On Saturday the 4th September, our little allotments celebrated this community spirit by coming together for the first time since before lockdown, at the return of the annual BBQ Open Day.

As most allotment holders are like passing ships in the night, it was a great way to bring everyone together, to officially open the new facilities and to break bread together, marking a fantastic harvest, with music provided by Robin James Hurt.  

Over 60 people attended, along with Cllr Brian Lawlor who presided over the celebrations and awarded his Vegetable of the Year to Shabu, Brijoy and Jobis for their impressive, giant beetroot.

More awards were dished out over the course of the day with the Vasiliauskiene family winning the coveted Golden Carrot Award for the best Carrots in the allotments. However, the grand prize for Best Overall Allotment 2021 went to Lina Markiulaitene for her beautifully maintained plot. 

After almost 2 years of Covid restrictions, the BBQ was a great way to celebrate what feels like a light at the end of the tunnel as well as the end of growing season until next Spring, when we will start the process all over again. 

As Jimmy Phibbs says: “Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration”.  For me, owning an allotment involves lots of laughter, friendship and the best kind of aches and pains that says “I’ve put in a good day at the plot”.

If you are interested in allotmenting and would like to be placed on the waiting list for Bohernabreena Allotments, contact Jimmy Phibbs on [email protected].

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