Growing Vegetables as Art: The Moorehall Healthcare Village and Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire

March 28, 2012

The American garden artist Fritz Haeg, in his book Edible Estates, challenges the idea that front gardens are composed of lawns. He believes that vegetable gardens should not be located in back gardens, but instead be moved to the front of houses where they can replace unproductive areas of grass. Fritz Haeg has developed a number of these visible vegetable gardens for homes, located within housing estates in the United States. He has also been commissioned by the Tate Gallery in London to design a community garden within an urban area surrounded by high rise apartments.

Haeg creates vegetable beds as art. They are not rectangular, but expressive lines of drawing, densely planted with a variety of herbs and vegetables. His message is that vegetable beds are aesthetic, not purely functional. As such their shape can be expressive, and their content grown not in rows, but in drifts and textures of edible growth.

The ideas of Fritz Haeg are being applied in Ardee County Louth, as part of a project to celebrate the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations, 2012. In collaboration with Ardee Tidy Towns and Ardee Active Retirement sections of grass are being transformed into both vegetable/herb gardens and flower gardens for the residents of Moorehall Village (a retirement villlage). Moorehall residents will work with 4th Class students attending Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire (the girls school in Ardee).

Organic gardening, ecological garden designs, and sustainable food growing are some of the topics the students are exploring in conjunction with this project. However, the conversations between gardeners of different ages are the central feature of the endeavour. Sharing stories of childhood and the history of Ardee are two topics of conversation that carry on beside the planting of broad beans, lettuce, leeks, swiss chard, garlic, onions, potatoes, gooseberries, currants, strawberries, and herbs.

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