Digging a healthy hobby
21 June 2012
The people of Belfast are being encouraged to get their hands dirty and dig in for a healthy hobby in community gardens and allotments across the city as part of Active Belfast.
A `Growing Communities Strategy` for the city was launched at the opening of the latest community garden and allotments at Musgrave Park, Belfast.
The new growing area, funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA), was officially opened by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Gavin Robinson, and the Chairman of the Parks and Leisure Committee, Councillor Gerard McCabe.
Guests were invited to `dig in` at the event and many community groups are already involved in the park where fruit and vegetables grown on the allotments were available to enjoy and as a means of encouraging others to get involved.
“The development of allotments and community gardens across the city is a key priority for addressing the quality of life, health and wellbeing and sustainability of the region,`said Councillor McCabe.
“It is a great way of keeping fit, making friends, caring for the environment and in economic hardship putting fresh food on the table. It boosts community spirit as people work together in all seasons, helping and supporting each other with tips and ideas.
“It is the spirit of Active Belfast, where many organisations work together sowing seeds that we hope will, in the long term, flourish and get people more active. We want to stress that it doesn`t have to be high impact exercise to boost health, gentler pursuits like gardening and walking, activities suitable for all ages, make a difference too.
“The strategy launched today is our vision of what can be achieved, but we also need help from you, the people of Belfast, to bring it to fruition. We want you to get involved in your local community gardens, to share in the benefits they bring and to work with us as we develop more across Belfast,” added the councillor.
Seamus Mullan, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement (Belfast), at the PHA said the Musgrave site is a demonstration site. “Its aim is to explore good practice in community engagement and ownership, improvements to health and well being, and check out the longer term sustainability of community gardens and allotments.
“We think it is a good way of spending public money because the benefits can be so widespread. It encourages physical activity, but it is good for mental health too working in the open air and it is way of encouraging neighbours to get to know each other so boosting community spirits too,” he added.
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