Inside the main gates of Carlow College, is a brand new Edible Pollinator Garden, laid out in a Celtic Knot design, with fruit trees underplanted with fruit bushes, and all underplanted with a variety of herbs, providing food for pollinators and for ourselves. Traditional bee skeps, wicker hurdles, and a quote from Seamus Heaney’s poem, “A Herbal”, add the finishing touches to ensure this new feature is in keeping with its historic setting.
On a recent visit to St Patrick’s College, Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, complemented the garden, noting it would be a valuable demonstration site in support of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, and adding that it would make a significant contribution to Co. Carlow’s novel Urban Pollinator Foraging Network – part of Carlow County Council’s recently adopted Green Infrastructure Strategy.
The Strategy includes a new approach to managing urban green spaces based on a policy that “no pollinator in County Carlow’s towns and villages will have to travel more than 200metres in order to find a food source (green space of a minimum size, that is managed for biodiversity).”
Explaining the approach, Shane Casey, Environmental Awareness Officer with Carlow County Council says, “the first step involves mapping existing Green Infrastructure resources within urban areas, and then adding a 200metre Pollinator Commuting Zone – the more the commuting zones overlap, the better the connectivity. Mapping this allows us to see the true extent of foraging connectivity, subsequently allowing us to prioritise resources into filling the gaps, rather than expanding ‘islands’ of biodiversity”. This approach has since been promoted by the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan as a model of good practice to be replicated elsewhere.
Launching the County Carlow Green Infrastructure Strategy, with its novel approach, Minister Noonan commented:
“This is something that every city and town can do to support our urban pollinators. It enables local authorities and communities alike to be strategic in their approach. And this beautiful garden here in St Patrick’s College fills a significant gap, and demonstrates what can be achieved”
Photo credit: Michael O’ Rourke