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Fresh produce and new friendships now growing at The BUG (Belfast’s Urban Garden)

Date: 03 May 2024

Category: City centre, Climate and biodiversity

Launch of The BUG Belfast's Urban Garden

Friends new and old gathered on the Belfast Stories site on Kent Street today, Friday May 3, to celebrate the launch of The BUG (Belfast’s Urban Garden).

Green fingered enthusiasts, including local primary school pupils, potted their own sunflowers to take home, chatted with fellow gardeners, and planted vegetables inside The BUG polytunnels built on part of the site that will become Belfast Stories in 2029.

The BUG is one of several ‘Grey to Green’ city centre projects funded under the Department for Infrastructure’s £400,000 Blue~Green capital grant programme, administered by Belfast City Council, with The BUG project receiving funding and support from the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Áine Groogan said: “The BUG – Belfast’s Urban Garden, offers a fantastic, free opportunity to connect with nature and community right in the heart of Belfast city centre.

“Belfast 2024 is our year of celebrating creativity and connections – and I’d like to commend the TCV for engaging with such a diverse range of people, including those facing mental health challenges, schools, and local communities - and I know they will continue to do so, to make The BUG a welcoming, shared space for all to enjoy.

“The BUG is all about helping to enhance biodiversity, combat pollution, and improve the city centre’s overall appeal and liveability. We’re also anticipating positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes for those who participate in the horticulture and conservation workshops.

“This important project is helping to prepare the ground for Belfast Stories, which will be gathering place for everyone; a visitor attraction where we can clearly communicate the spirit of the city, its past, its present and its future; and a creative hub where writers, musicians, artists and film makers will collaborate, developing stories to sustain us – made possible with investment from the Belfast Region City Deal.

“I can’t wait to see what blossoms here at The BUG over the next 18 months, not only in terms of green space, flowers and vegetables, but also friendships and community.”

Sharon Crainey, Operations Leader, The Conservation Volunteers NI, said: “We’ll be scheduling up to four closed gardening groups weekly, either for one-off workshops or for an eight-week programme throughout the summer. And we’re planning to host an open volunteering group on Saturdays, providing volunteers with the opportunity to engage in ongoing gardening activities.

“The BUG is located right next to another creative greening project on this site in Brink! – who have partnered with Grow and quarto on ‘A Growing Story’ with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and DAERA.”

Dr Hannah McCourt, Senior Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Officer at the PHA said: “The PHA is pleased to be co-funder of the garden, as it will provide a valuable asset to the community to help improve their health and wellbeing.

“Community gardens and growing initiatives such as The BUG, are great ways to benefit from the Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing, which are, Give, through volunteering; Be Active, by gardening; Take Notice, of the nature around you; Connect, with others who get involved; and Learn, by getting to know more through the TCV NI workshops.

“The BUG will also provide under-represented groups in the city with better access to green spaces in the heart of Belfast, helping to reduce health inequalities. 

“The PHA continues to work with our partners to help support people to be more active, increase their knowledge and skills, and build their social connections.”

The BUG is a key project that emerged from a Belfast Healthy Cities ‘Greening the City’ workshop in August 2022 and it was earmarked as a ‘Demonstrator’ project within the Grey to Green strand of the Department for Infrastructure’s Blue~Green Infrastructure fund.

It will explore the extent to which urban gardening with proactive community engagement can create a sense of community ownership and sustainable greening of a city centre site.

For more information on what’s happening at The BUG, visit

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