Are you dreading the upcoming water charges? Have you thought of ways to save water? Do you want your garden to look gorgeous even during hosepipe bans? Are you looking for ways to reduce your reliance on mains water supply? Come to our rainwater harvesting information evening to get ideas, information and inspiration on how to harvest and store usable rainwater from your roof.

Where: Skerries Mills
When: Thursday 3rd of April 2014, 8pm

Sustainable Skerries is launching a new series of classes entitled, “Lessons for Sustainable Living”.

The first class is on Thursday Sept 12th, in Skerries Mills, and will generally be held every Thursday evening for 9 weeks. Times and course content are listed below.

The cost of the full course is €80, and enrollment is open now. Places are limited.

If you would like learn a bit more about the course, contact us on or call Rosaleen  (086 7341764) or Mary (086 0643498)

Lessons in Sustainable Living
Date Time Topic Venue
Sep 12th 8.00pm  to 9.30pm Welcome, brief course introduction & Introduction to Wild Foods Skerries Mills
Sep 19th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Food Nutrition & Food Preserving Skerries Mills
Sep 21st Note Saturday Afternoon (2pm to 4pm) Skerries Foraging Walk TBA
Sep 26th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Growing Food Skerries Mills
Oct 3rd 8.00pm to 9.30pm Skerries as a Sustainable Community Skerries Mills
Oct 10th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Sustainable Purchasing Decisions Skerries Mills
Oct 19th Note Saturday Afternoon (1.30pm to 5pm) Rediscover Fashion ( upcycling clothing) Skerries Sailing Club
Oct 24th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Fabric Crafts ( Knitting, crochet and sewing – taster sessions on each ) Skerries Mills
October 31st 8.00pm to 9.30pm Waste from the Home Skerries Mills
Nov 7th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Sustainable Energy in the Home Skerries Mills

Would you share your garden for free fruit & vegetables?

Garden Share Schemes have been popular in America, UK and other countries for some time now.  A Garden Share scheme essentially pairs up gardeners who have nowhere to grow their own food with garden owners who have the space to grow but for whatever reason are not able to.

These schemes have attracted garden owners for numerous reasons, among which are: they do not know anything about growing food and want to learn from an experienced gardener; they no longer have the mobility to do their own gardening but would like to see their garden used by someone else (often these owners have lots of invaluable growing knowledge to pass on); they do not have the time to grow food but would like to see someone else do so.

The majority of volunteer gardeners join the scheme as a means of accessing a growing space. Whether they live in an apartment or are renting, this scheme gives them a space to grow their own food.

The benefits of such schemes are immense. From this wonderfully symbiotic relationship two people now have access to locally grown, seasonal vegetables. The sense of wellbeing gotten from eating freshly grown food that you had a hand in producing, whether by labour or provision of land, is wonderful.  This way of producing food also helps the environment by providing fruit and vegetables with no food miles. 

Beyond the health and environmental benefits, the social benefits, especially for elderly or disabled garden owners are extremely positive. The social contact of having someone calling a few times a week can make such a huge difference in the lives of some people. The relief of knowing that your garden is being used, especially  for food production and the security of knowing that someone is keeping an eye on the house & garden can also be very reassuring for garden owners. And the list goes on…

As with most community focused initiatives there are as many ways to organise a Garden Share Scheme as there are schemes. The basic principle of matching a compatible owner and gardener with each other is mediated in a variety of ways. In most cases, interested parties register themselves with the scheme. They would then individually meet with the co-ordinators. This gives the co-ordinators a chance to get to know each party a bit better and armed with this knowledge, they can then make the best pairing they can. Some groups also manage the agreement stage too.  This agreement covers issues such as access to the garden, tools, storage, division of produce and all the other nitty-gritty involved in such arrangements.

Schemes such as these have been running successfully in Edinburgh and also Brighton & Hove. These schemes would highlight the huge benefits of their schemes to elderly people in their communities. The other major success in these schemes has been that they offer people another path into growing their own food and all the joys that come from that.

If you are interested in Skerries Garden Share Scheme get in touch with us :


Or call Barry on 087-229 5840

Further information on Garden Share Schemes can be found on the following sites:

An information evening for the Skerries Community Harvest Group and weekly local organic vegetable boxes for 2013 will be held next Thursday, 14th March at 7.45pm in the Skerries Sailing Club

Paddy, our organic farmer, will let us know the crop plans he has for 2013 season, which starts in early May. It’s also a chance to give feedback and have any queries answered etc.

We are hoping to increase the CHG by a few more members this year so if you have any friends who you think might like to meet the farmer and hear from current members, it would be great if they came
along that night and see if they like what they hear.

Any queries in advance of the meeting, please contact:

The following is an extract from a recent article by Dr Tim Morgan, who is global head of research at Tullett Prebon. See the complete article at City AM.

“THE West lies at the confluence of four extremely dangerous long-term developments. Individually or collectively, they have already begun to reverse more than two centuries of economic expansion.

The first is well-known: the creation of the worst financial bubble in history – “the great credit super-cycle”. Since the 1980s, a relentless shift to immediate consumption resulted in the accumulation of debt on an unprecedented scale. The financial crisis was not entirely the result of a short period of malfeasance by a tiny minority. What began in 2008 was the denouement of a broad-based process that lasted for 30 years.

The compounding mistake was a belief that globalisation would make everyone richer. The problem was that the West reduced production without corresponding reductions in consumption. At constant 2011 values, US consumer consumption rose by $6.5 trillion (£4.1 trillion) between 1981 and 2011, while government consumption rose by $1.7 trillion. Talk of Western economies moving into services was waffle – consumers sold each other greater numbers of hair cuts and fast food, while increasingly depending on imported goods. The debts used to buy them also soared. Between 1981 and 2011, US indebtedness rose from $11 trillion to $54 trillion.

The third trend – the massaging of economic statistics – may serve as explanation for why this happened. In the US, the benchmark inflation measure has been modified by “substitution”, “hedonics” and “geometric weighting” to the point that reported numbers seem six percentage points lower than under the calculation used until the 1980s. Distorted inflation also tells earners that they are getting better off, even when this conflicts with their own perceptions.

But a final development is perhaps most concerning. The modern economy began when agriculture created an energy surplus, liberating people to engage in non-subsistence activities. A larger liberation occurred with the invention of the heat engine – energy delivered by labour could be leveraged by coal, oil and natural gas. A single gallon of petrol delivers work equivalent to 360 to 490 hours of human labour.

The critical equation is the difference between energy extracted and energy consumed in extraction – energy return on energy invested (EROEI). Since the Industrial Revolution, EROEI has been high. Oil discovered in the 1930s provided 100 units of energy for every unit consumed. But EROEI has fallen, as discoveries have become smaller and more costly to extract. The killer factor is the non-linear nature of EROEIs. Once returns ratios fall below 15:1, there is a dramatic “cliff-edge” slump in surplus energy, combined with a sharp escalation in cost. And the global average EROEI may fall to 11:1 by 2020. Energy will be 50 per cent more expensive, in real terms, than today. And this will carry through into the cost of almost everything – including food.

We are nearing the end of a period of 250 years in which growth has been the assumed normal. And, without action, this will have stark implications for the economies of the West.”

See the complete article at City AM.

Skerries Allotments has won a Merit Award from the RDS in the Allotments category. They were commended for their sustainable water irrigation system and their community activities, which include a community Polytunnel and seasonal barbeques.

Along with an active allotment association which works in partnership with Fingal Co. Co.

The prize was awarded at the GIY annual conference in Waterford in September. The award was accepted by Mary Marsden and Barry Brady, both prominent members of Sustainable Skerries and the main drivers behind the Skerries Allotments. Well done to Mary and Barry, a well deserved recognition of their hard work and commitment to their community.

Fingal County Hall, Sept 2012.

News from Fingal County Hall, Sustainable Skerries just won first prize in the Fingal Cleaner Communities awards for Best Environmental Initiative.

The commendation noted the Skerries Allotments, the Community Harvest Group, our work with the TY Students in the Community College, the water conservation work and work on improving community resilience.

We’re absolutely delighted to recieve this award, it recognises the hard work put in by our volunteers in the past three years.
Making our community sustainable and resilient is rewarding work, but it’s also great craic. With the volunteers we have in our group, I’m sure the craic will continue for a long time to come.

Sustainable Skerries is inviting people who may be interested in growing Willow trees on a 200 sq metre allotment for fuel, to join our Fuel Allotment Association.

The Skerries Fuel Allotment Association ( Skerries FAA) will establish 20-30 fuel allotments on a site near Skerries. The project is being run to improve our energy resilience and give members the chance to reduce their heating bills, especially as the cost of oil begins to increase over the coming years.

It is projected that an allotment will take about eight hours of manual work per month, involving the initial planting, weed control, and end of year harvesting and wood processing.

The Willow will be grown in a short cycle coppice, which means that the trees will be trimmed back each year, this wood being available for fuel. The tree is then allowed to regenerate and produce more fuel for the following year. This system can give 20 years of fuel from each tree.

It’s estimated that each allotment will yield about one tonne of dried fuel. Which will be equivalent to €400 of home heating oil at today’s prices.

If you are interested in hearing more about this new concept contact Sustainable Skerries at

Written By: Bronagh Ni Dhuill. Member of the Community Harvest Group Core Committee.

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a concept that first began to take root in the 1960’s. One of the most well-known stories about the origins of CSAs is that of the Japanese experience. Local women were so concerned about the amount of chemicals being used to grow their vegetables that they created their own alternative. They approached a local farmer with the idea of him growing just for them in the way they wanted. A win-win situation was created that allowed the women to have confidence that their food was being produced in a healthy, chemical-free manner while the farmer knew that he had a solid consumer base for his crops and the security of knowing that they were committed to him for the entire season.

Since then CSA’s have spread all over the world, being very successful in Canada and the US. While each CSA might have their own various arrangements and set-ups, each one has certain core values that make them distinct from other vegetable box schemes.

The main driver for most people involved in the setting up of CSA’s was that they wanted to have faith in where their food came from. The 1960’s brought a huge increase in the use of pesticides and other chemicals in agriculture and many people had serious concerns about this. They wanted access to food that they knew had been grown in a chemical-free way, but as farm sizes increased and the consumers were pushed into buying veg from supermarkets, their choices were very limited.

Another problem that was becoming more noticeable around this time was the development of supersized farms that were growing one or two crops for direct sale to supermarkets. The farmers saw that this was the most viable option for them and to keep their farms in business they had to change with the times. And so farms began to grow only two or three crops to supply a specific supermarket demand. Of course this brought its own problems with it. The farmers became more reliant on the conglomerates they supplied, which in turn allowed the supermarkets to set the prices for the veg. If the farmer was unhappy with the price they had very few alternatives while the supermarkets could easily approach an-other grower.

The choice was simple, either sell your produce for our lower price or keep it. Not much of a choice at all. Over the years, generations of farmers have been growing a very small selection of veg on a very large scale, becoming more heavily dependent on both the conglomerates and chemicals. This has led to a loss of skills and knowledge. According to Bord Bia list of Horticultural-al Members there are 53 listed growers in Fingal producing their own fruit or veg. Of these growers, 21 are growing a single crop. There are only 8 farmers growing between five and eight crops. There is no-one listed that is growing a higher number of products. During our first year of the Community Harvest Group, over forty different varieties and products were grown by Paddy. He said himself that there had never been such a wide variety of food grown on the farm.

The loss of bio-diversity is yet another side-effect of growing such a small selection of veg. Where previous generations would have been used to choosing from a selection of different turnips, we have become the generation that recognises the Swede as the only turnip. At one stage the variety of each type of veg being grown was staggering, now it has been narrowed down to just one or two. Farmers in the 40’s knew that value of planting multiple species of each veg. By planting ten different varieties of peas, the grower was increasing the success of his yield. Some types thrived on rainy summers while others were resistant to different diseases. This lack of diversity now has led to some unforeseen problems. As the varieties are no longer being grown the seeds are difficult to source and therefore save, leading to the extinction of certain types of veg. Also, as exposure to chemicals has increased, both pests and diseases have begun to become immune to them, leading growers into a continuous cycle of spraying to save crops from destruction.

The change in farming over the last fifty years has been staggering, but with the many advances that have come about it has also made it more difficult for farmers to make a living from their land. For many, this meant changing into specialist areas where they focused on single crops or livestock. For others it meant leaving farming altogether. For some, it became a chance to change direction and focus on smaller production, organic growing. But making an organic farm financially viable is a challenge in itself.

Community Supported Agriculture became the peoples’ response to these situations. By committing themselves to a farmer for the entire growing season a wonderful, mutually beneficial arrangement is born. The members are confident in the source of their food, that it is grown without chemicals and has very low carbon miles because of it local nature. They develop a relationship with the very person who is producing the food for their table. The improved quality of produce, freshness and nutritional benefits are noticeable immediately. Nutritionists firmly advocate the benefits of eating seasonal food. For the farmer, having a committed consumer base adds a level of security to their business, that they know who they are growing for and that the product has a definite market. By committing to the farmer for the entire year, people are reaffirming the value we place on our growers. Also, the option of volunteering on the farm, whether during sowing, weeding or harvesting time provides a level of very personal support to the farmer and also a wonderful chance for the members to really get involved in the production of their own food.

As Community Supported Agriculture has spread around the world, the very holistic nature of the movement became clear. The Community, or members, Support both financially and physically, the agriculture, and growers in our area. By valuing the skills and knowledge of our growers we can support their businesses and ensure that we also have continued access to high quality, local, organic, seasonal food.

Have you ever thought of keeping your own backyard chickens, produce your own organic eggs?

Sustainable Skerries is looking for anyone who might be interested in keeping some chickens, but didn’t know where to start. We hope to share knowledge, support each other, share equipment and to band together for discounts on materials and feed.

Troubled about keeping your chickens fed while on holidays?, we hope to support each other within the group by exchanging holiday cover for each other.

If you have ever wanted to keep a few chickens and just don’t know how, contact Sustainable Skerries on 087 2266 922 or email us on

Photo Credit: The Poultry Project