secondhand clothing exchange at an elementary school

A Canadian article, but could it work here in Ireland?  Probably not because we have all, adults and children alike, been conditioned into a mindset where if it’s not new it’s not worth having and the more it costs the more we want it.

We’d be delighted to be proved wrong.

Well worth a read either way.

How to Create a Secondhand Store in Your School


Okay, so the title’s a little over the top but nonetheless we’re approaching the middle of May and you wouldn’t know it by the weather!

We did have that magical week of warm weather back in April when the whole town started rummaging in its garden shed for the barbecue set and rushed off down to the harbour to bag its place, Mediterranean style, at a table in the sun; but then the sun went away to be replaced with cold and rain.  And here we still are.

Which means that growth has been slow in the vegetable patch.

There has been some growth just the same.  Our spuds are now all showing, each plant present and correct in its allotted drill; the winter onions are beginning to swell and the first of them will soon be ready for pulling; and the broad beans that our four year old granddaughter helped me plant, “I did it all; Granddad only made the holes”, last October are now bigger than she is.

These beans are very much “hers”.  When they germinated she came back to see the first green shoots; a few times over the winter to see them slowly getting bigger; then the first flowers; and now that the bees have done their bit, tiny little swelling pods.  I’m quite certain that when it comes time to harvest she won’t let me anywhere near them.

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She might even take an interest in eating them.  If so I’m sure her mother who, like all mothers, struggles to get her children to eat vegetables will thank me for that.  It’s a bit of a long shot given that no-one in the history of forever liked broad beans as a child, but you never know.

Elsewhere the fruit trees have set a goodly amount of fruit – we were lucky with the frosts this year – and the strawberries are flowering well.  I’ve a feeling I won’t be let anywhere near them either if that certain little madam gets her way.

Other than that it’s pretty much a waiting game outside at the moment, but Met Eireann are promising the weather’s about to change this weekend, so fingers crossed.

Meanwhile we decided to tackle the polytunnel and get our tomatoes, peppers and what have you planted

We’d rather put this on the long finger because we’d still got some overwintered veg growing there, plus a load of strawberry plants which were supposed to give us an early crop this month.

We tried this last year with reasonable success.  They cropped from very late April all the way through May before we, ingrates that we are, reefed them out and consigned them to the compost heap.

But this year it became evident that they weren’t going to do much at all for some reason.  The plants were mostly weak and hadn’t rooted well; they had to go.  So they did.

We’re trialling the No Dig method this year in the allotment.

No Dig is exactly what it says it is: you don’t dig the soil but spread compost on top instead and plant through that.  The idea being not to disturb the living microbial and fungal ecosystem of the soil by cutting it all up and churning it about.  By not digging you don’t activate dormant weed seeds, so not only do you avoid the heavy spade work but you have less subsequent weeding as well.  At least, that’s the plan.

So having cleared out the beds and given them a light raking to even them up, it was time to apply 4″ of compost.

Actually, that’s not quite true.  There was no room on top for an extra 4″ of anything, so we had to raise the beds.  This we did, using reclaimed wood supplied FoC to anyone in the allotments who both wanted it, and was quick enough to grab it, by a cooperative neighbour (you know who you are Ken!), and the extra height will keep us out of trouble for a good few years.  Then the compost went in.

This made serious inroads into to our supply of homemade compost, but at the end of the day that’s what it’s for, and anyway we’re only now beginning to get the compost cycle into full production.  When fully up and running, which will be this year, we reckon to get the equivalent of four or five tonne bags annually.

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Beds planted up and inter-planted with lettuce and scallions as a catch crop. The hanging mesh tray relieves a lot of space on the potting table and can be taken down when the plants below need stringing.



Still a few bits and pieces to be planted out.


The polytunnel should be about rather more than just raising seedlings in Spring and growing tomatoes in Summer, it’s also about extending the growing season and growing out of season produce.  The trouble is that it’s hard to get the timing right and not have stuff in the ground still coming to fruition when the space is needed for something else.  We get it wrong frequently.

Hopefully No Dig will help here as well.

This Autumn when the tomatoes and peppers come out we will again put in strawberry runners, along with carrots, cauliflower and other vegetables which we’ve found do well there over Winter, but this time we’ll plan the spacings so that the summer crops can be interplanted between them and get off to an early start.  Overlap their growing time in other words.

Because we won’t be digging or rotorvating we won’t have to completely clear beds between rotations; simply plant beside and pull out as necessary.  That’s the plan at any rate.

[Edit]  Since writing this post the sun has come out and the weather warmed up.  Hooray!  Long may it last.

Here at Sustainable Skerries we’re always on the lookout for environmental news and when we find something interesting we’re inclined to want to share it with you.

So far this week we’ve found two:

Stuffed with stuff ... Maurice Herson at Oxford’s library of things. Photograph: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi/The Guardian

A “Library of things”, a concept that ties in closely with the ‘Repair Cafe’ ethos and aims to make communities more self sufficient

and, rather less cheerfully

One million animal, plant species face extinction – UN

Earth's eight millions species of plants and animals are dying off at an accelerated rate

Sombre reading, and very easy to ignore it because it’s so depressing.  Which is exactly why we all should be reading it.  And then doing something about it.


The links are on our ‘Media’ site.

Apologies folks but we had a small problem with this website.  All fixed now but not much went up for a while, including the Allotment Blog.

It’s back now and to be found by clicking the banner above.

All relevant comments and opinions are more than welcome.

On 24th March 2019, Sustainable Skerries held the first Skerries Repair Café.



Repair Cafés have sprung up all over the world, and are operating in communities from Denmark to Australia. They were founded in response to the fact that too many items of daily life are not repaired anymore and have become disposable, often after short usage. The skills to fix things are in danger of being lost in the face of our convenience, built in obsolescence culture. We throw away too much, we should re-learn how to fix things. Repairing extends the life span of our possessions, reduces waste and saves money.

Repair Cafés endeavour to facilitate a transfer of skills. Members of the repair community are teaching others how to fix things. The emphasis is on the skills transfer, not on the repair only.

The first Skerries Repair Café

We decided to concentrate on clothes, as our obsession with fast fashion means that about 225,000 tones of textile waste are disposed of each year in Ireland alone.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, ten workstations were set up in the Bus Bar, each volunteer laying out their materials and tools. Tea, coffee and homemade cakes were ready. Already, a lot of information exchange and lively chat was taking place. Come 3pm, a steady stream of people dropped in to get advice and/or see what was going on. The volunteers were kept busy showing people how to hem school trousers, mend old pyjamas, fix teddy bears, embellish a pair of jeans or upcycle a second hand dress. Everybody enjoyed the experience and many participants were asking when the next event would take place.


We would like to sincerely thank all our volunteers who made this event happen, the Bus Bar who provided the venue and Friends of Autism & ADHD who donated a bag of clothes for our use.

Future Plans

Sustainable Skerries are planning to regularly hold such events, each one concentrating on a different skill. Please contact us at and let us know what repair skills you would like to learn and what skills you would be willing to share.





Bees and plants poster

This is a very thought provoking Opinion piece from Sadhbh O’ Neill published in The

Sadhbh O Neill is a spokesperson for Climate Case Ireland. She is a PhD candidate and part-time lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at UCD.

Climate change is dangerous and poses a threat to us all, so we are taking a High Court case this January on behalf of all Irish citizens, writes Sadhbh O Neill.

2019 WILL SURELY be the year of climate action.

Recent scientific reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave us just 12 years to make drastic cuts to the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Human activities have altered the Earth’s living systems beyond recognition. We have left our mark on Planet Earth in seriously negative ways and climate change is the most visible and urgent threat that we humans have inflicted on the planet.

Ireland is among the poorest performers in Europe for tackling climate change. We cannot continue to hide behind the emissions of other countries and claim we have no duty to act. Individual action, no matter how well-intentioned, will have almost no effect without strong state leadership and multilateral cooperation.

That is why we must challenge our government in a historic high court case starting 22 January.

Human Activity

Once an insignificant speck, humans are now in a sense responsible for the whole planet’s future.

Of course, ‘humans’ are not a homogeneous group. There are huge inequalities and injustices behind the climate story. Colonialism, greed and ideology have all played a role in driving up both emissions and exploitation all over the world and throughout human history.

Yet most inconveniently, climate change presents itself as the challenge we all face together now, and on behalf of future generations, regardless of our degree of responsibility.

Governments are supposed to plan for the long-term, and in the common interest. But as the Swedish 15-year old activist Greta Thunberg reminded UN negotiators, all of the burden, including that of telling the truth about the real and systemic crises that face us, is being left to our children.

While the international climate negotiations have indeed been painfully slow, there is a growing body of scientific evidence and international law that should be guiding our response to climate change here in Ireland.

The Climate Case

Ireland’s performance on climate change so far has been very poor in comparison to the rest of the EU.  Our government’s ongoing failure to bend the emissions curve has been repeatedly raised at national and EU level by both independent and state authorities.

The analysis produced by Climate Action Network Europe in June this year placed Ireland in second last in the EU for action and ambition on climate change. Just last month, the Climate Change Performance Index highlighted Ireland as being the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change.

Citizens are no longer prepared to wait until the government wakes up to the challenge.

Friends of the Irish Environment under the banner ‘Climate Case Ireland’ is taking legal action against the Irish Government’s failure to take the required action to avert dangerous climate change.

Our case is inspired by global climate change litigation, including the 900 Dutch citizens of Urgenda who won their case against the Dutch Government in 2015. The District Court in The Hague ruled that the Dutch government must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020 (compared to 1990 levels).

That ruling required the government to immediately take more effective action on climate change.

We have asked the court to quash the existing climate plan and to require the government to produce an ambitious emissions reduction plan which helps to avert dangerous climate change.

While our case does not specify the means by which targets should be met, there is plenty of research showing that we will all benefit from the energy transition. Climate action demands a mobilisation of both citizens and government actions alike if we are to avert disaster.

Instead, in Ireland, we will face fines for not meeting EU targets – the Institute of International and European Affairs have estimated that Ireland could face fines between €3-6bn by 2030.

Why Ireland?

You might ask – but why Ireland? We are a tiny country, why should our emissions matter?

While China, the US and India are currently the world’s top emitters, the EU has contributed a much higher percentage of the total emissions released into the atmosphere.

And while US leadership would indeed make a big difference it should be noted that many US states are already taking decisive action to reduce emissions in spite of the federal government’s position.

Ireland’s emissions per capita are the third highest in the EU at 13.2 tCO2e per person.

Our energy, heating and transport systems, in particular, are highly dependent on polluting fossil fuels but government plans are not properly assessed for their climate and environmental impacts.

As the 64th largest emitter of emissions in the world, we can hardly expect the 130 countries that emit less than Ireland, to reduce their emissions if we don’t do likewise.

We are among the wealthiest countries in the world with high rates of economic growth and employment. It is vital that we contribute our fair share of the global effort in solidarity with developing countries who will bear the brunt of climate damage.

We cannot afford to wait until there is political consensus for strong policy measures.

The courts have a special role in ensuring that government decisions are compliant with national, EU and international law and in ensuring that human rights are protected. The Dutch case showed that citizens can access the courts to effect a change of direction.

Our case will be heard in the High Court from the 22nd of January and we are taking it on behalf of everyone in Ireland, young and old. We hope that it will inspire the public into supporting our call for greater climate ambition.


world_cafe_2“World Café”

On Thursday 15th November At 8:00pm

The Skerries Mills.

This is a quick reminder to everyone, Sustainable Skerries will be running a World Café on Thursday evening (15th Nov). This is a very open and relaxed forum, and a great way to get a discussion going on important topics. We will have small groups of five or six people per table, each table will have a question related to sustainability and resilience in Skerries.

We’ll be asking questions like:

  • “Where did all our water go? Did you know that 50% of our Water leaks into the ground the ground before it reaches our taps?
  • “Are we getting all the goodness we can from our food? How can I compost at home?”
  • “Are you fed up with our throw-away culture? Would you like to learn to repair things like our parents did?
  • Single Use Plastic, “How did we survive before plastic? Is it the consumer or the producer who drives change?”
  • Energy Security, Lights out in NI? Where is our energy coming from?


If you are interested in discussing these topics or would like to learn more about them get in touch with us at or just come along to the Café on the first floor in the Mills at 8pm on Thursday 15th. See you there.


Another burst water main impacting Skerries. The notice below is from the Irish Water bulletin board.

This is one of the subjects we will be discussing at Thursday’s World Café. Please come along to contribute to the discussion.

Skerries, Dublin
11/11/2018 – 12/11/2018

REF. FIN029128

Burst Water Main – Skerries

  • Water OutageWorks have an estimated completion time of midnight. Please take note of the following reference number and enter it into the search bar should you wish to return for an update:FIN029128.
  • We recommend that you allow 2-3 hours after the estimated restoration time for your supply to fully return.
  • **Update 12:22am**
    Due to extent of the damage and repairs required, the works are now expected to be completed by 4am on 12 November.

    Repairs to a burst water main may cause supply disruptions to Skerries, Barnageeragh Cove and surrounding areas in Co.Dublin.
May 2019
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