Agenda item


The Committee considered a report which sought approval for the use of part of Lower Botanic Gardens by Friends of the Field for a new agroecology community garden as part of the Horizon 2020 UPSURGE project.


            The Members were advised that the UPSURGE Project was a Horizon 2020 research collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast that involved five cities across Europe aiming to test nature-based solutions for climate action. The aim of the project, which would run until August 2025, was to develop a climate demonstrator site at Lower Botanic Gardens to test different nature-based solutions and support learning on how adaptive practices in the use and management of green spaces could support pollution alleviation, citizen health, and climate resilience. The project would help the Council to deliver on the Belfast Resilience Strategy which aimed to transition the city to an inclusive net-zero emissions, climate resilient economy in a generation.


            As part of the development of the demonstrator project, an agroecology community garden was being developed on site which would test, among other things, how community growing spaces were developed and contribute towards climate action. The Climate Team had been working with a range of stakeholders since 2022 to codesign the spaces and develop relationships with interested groups and organisations. As part of this, Friends of the Field and Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens were two groups that had been engaging with the Council and helping shape the plans on site.


            A request had been received from Friends of the Field to enter into an agreement with Belfast City Council for the establishment of the community garden at Lower Botanic to act as a hub for sustainable practices, innovative garden-based learning, environmental conservation and fostering community engagement.


            The Committee was advised that Friends of the Field, as part of the project, would manage a volunteer-run community garden guided by the principles of permaculture and environmental sustainability. The garden would serve as a valuable resource for the community, promoting healthy eating habits, physical activity, and environmental stewardship.


            The Members noted that the project aligned with the objectives of the EU funded UPSURGE project and that the community garden would serve three core purposes:


1.     Growing, teaching and learning;

2.     Enhancing community development and climate resilience; and

3.     Improving the environment and biodiversity.


            The group had committed to developing the gardens and believed it had the necessary experience in project management, horticulture and fundraising to ensure the garden’s operational success.


            The Members were advised that the area requested by Friends of the Field was an area of fenced ground to the northern end of the site, encompassing 1,626 m2. The group was requesting initially that the agreement would run for one year, with the option to renew.  Friends of the Field had been successful in securing funding to run community gardening activities on the site, with the main infrastructure associated with the gardens funded via existing UPSURGE budget.


            The Committee approved, in principle, the use of part of Lower Botanic Gardens as an agroecology community garden by Friends of the Field, in conjunction with the Horizon 2020 UPSURGE project. It was noted that this agreement was subject to a further report on the terms of the agreement being submitted to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.


Supporting documents: