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  • The Ballinfoile Community Garden is not necessarily a community service hotspot, but rather a quiet place that community members can visit on occasion. The half-acre garden boasts orchards, raised garden beds, a greenhouse tunnel, and a picnic area where visitors can have a quiet lunch with the produce they have grown. Like every garden, the winter months are quiet and the entire garden is dormant. The growing season in Ireland does not begin until late March when the temperatures rise slightly and the hours of daily sunlight increase, so there is little to do in Ballinfoile until then. Throughout July and February, it is hard not to feel like a burden. Though we agreed that service would occur on Wednesday afternoons, the garden members often struggled to find meaningful tasks for us and occasionally told us not to bother coming out on certain weeks since no one would be gardening. The arrival of March saw us doing more tasks, albeit small ones. I had to tell myself multiple times that one or two small housekeeping tasks a week would eventually add up to something meaningful. Tasks often include picking up litter (a very apparent issue in the Galway City area), moving piles of weeds, and plucking grass from vegetable beds. Though the work is dull and mundane, I hope it will all amount to something later in the year when community members, students, and children arrive to plant and maintain the garden during summer months. Although I have only met a small handful of gardeners, I am told that there are many families and primary schools that take advantage of the garden once the spring weather arrives. Brightly painted flowerbeds, garden gnomes, and tool sheds make me hope that my time here is not wasted or unneeded, but perhaps I am just volunteering at an inopportune time to interact with the greater Galway community. As we move into late March, I hope that my experience at the garden will be enriched with the arrival of more gardeners and more chances to experience community life. Who knows, if the weather cooperates I may even get to see some actual gardening!

    (Photo of Allie Rudy inspecting some gardening tools)

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