ECO-UNESCO, Ireland’s environmental education and youth organisation has been awarded funding to deliver training under the North West Healthy Living Community Gardens and Allotments Project. ECO-UNESCO was successful in the tender bid with its proposal to run a number of both accredited and non-accredited training programmes focused on gardening and health living. The workshops will be delivered to over 2000 people in the next 12 months by ECO-UNESCO and are aimed at both young people and adults.

Strabane District Council is the leading implementing council in North West Healthy Living Community Gardens and Allotments Project while ECO-UNESCO is the sold training provider.

Accredited and non-accredited trainings will be delivered to adults under the programme. These range from a two day Train the Trainer programme enabling gardeners to teach others how to begin their own garden, to a FETAC Level 3 and 4 course on Healthy Gardening and Green Exercise. All of the programmes are aimed at providing people with the skills to sustainably cultivate their own vegetables, recognise the importance of biodiversity and its link to the food chain and to recognise the benefits of green exercise and getting outdoors in the fresh air.

The programme also includes a schools programme where young people in primary schools, secondary schools and youth groups are getting involved with one day workshops under the initiative. The workshop equips young people with the skills and knowledge of how to set up and maintain a school or community garden, cultivate and harvest crops and understand how the food pyramid works. The workshop not only facilitates young people in growing their own food but also allows them to understand the concept of environmental stewardship, ecological dependencies and duty of care to the environment. The workshop also includes an eco-action element allowing the young people to carry out an eco-action project in their local community which they can then submit to the Young Environmentalist Awards.

Commenting on ECO-UNESCO’s funding success under the North West Healthy Living Community Gardens and Allotments Project, Elaine Nevin, National Director said, “ECO-UNESCO is delighted to have been successful in securing the tender for this project. It’s a fantastic opportunity for young people and adults to learn essential gardening skills along with understanding the wider but integral links such as biodiversity, sustainability, organics, recycling and self sufficiency. We are looking forward to up-skilling and educating thousands of people across the North West and to having more sustainable communities across Northern Ireland and Donegal.”