On a farm outside Limerick, Maurice and a team of volunteers are teaching young people how to grow African vegetables for the local community. The No Interest Loan Scheme was instrumental in getting the project off the ground.

There is something very satisfying about eating food that you have grown yourself. That’s something the young people involved in a Limerick community group are discovering for themselves, thanks to a vegetable garden project that has been under way for the past year.

On a farm at Ballyneety, outside Limerick city, Maurice, 61, and a team of volunteers are working with young people to produce fresh vegetables, with a focus on native African vegetables that are not widely available to buy locally. The young people are involved in all aspects of the process, from planting the seeds to harvesting the produce and distributing it locally.

Maurice is a native of the Congo who has lived in Limerick for more than 20 years, and the project is run by a community group called SOS Congolese Youth. With the help of Doras Luimní they secured a plot of land for their project, and received some grant funding from Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB). Maurice then applied to Good Shepherd Ireland’s No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) in May 2018 for a loan to develop the garden.

“We got an LCETB grant to buy a polytunnel and pay the rent for the land, and then to buy supplies for the garden we borrowed from NILS,” explains Maurice.

“We used the money from NILS to buy a wheelbarrow, manure, compost, sand, materials to erect the polytunnel, and to pay for transport. If it was not for NILS, we could not continue the work.”

Maurice is clearly passionate about the project, which along with supporting the young people to grow fresh vegetables, offers them the opportunity to produce African foods for the local community. The vegetables currently being grown include amaranth, sorrel, morrell, aubergine, African spinach, African kale, Congolese sweet potatoes, and African tomatoes.

“We have volunteers who teach the young people how to grow the tropical vegetables in the polytunnel, and show them how to deal with the Irish soil and Irish weather. The young people grow the vegetables from beginning to harvest. They plant the seeds, water them, and look after the plants until they come to harvest,” says Maurice.

Securing the loan under NILS was instrumental in getting the project off the ground, and Maurice says the application process was very straightforward: “It can be difficult to get a loan from a credit union or bank. I heard about NILS through Doras, I saw a note on the noticeboard there. I called them, they came to meet me at Doras, I filled out the form, and got the loan in one week. The money went straight to Homebase and B&Q to buy the supplies,” he says.

“We paid back €10 every week – it is a small amount to pay each week, and there is no interest to pay. It’s a very good system; the staff are so helpful and there is no stress.”

Maurice and the team are continually working to develop the scope of the project. Their future plans include the introduction of rabbits at the farm to generate manure, the addition of a second polytunnel, and purchasing a van to help distribute the produce. They are also looking into selling the vegetables at local markets.

More than 30 young people aged 16-25 are now involved in the project, and Maurice feels it offers them the opportunity to be part of something positive and healthy.

“Young people sometimes feel they have nothing to do. It is a good experience for them to be able to grow their own food, in their own garden, instead of buying vegetables in a big supermarket. This food is organic and healthy and different to what young people normally eat. The experience is also very good for their mental health.”

Other Journals

When a household appliance breaks it usually needs to be replaced immediately, but finding the money to pay for it can be a struggle. When it happens just before Christmas, the financial pressure can be even more intense. The No Interest Loan Scheme is there to help people tackle those unexpected expenses.

Read more

Bumps on the Journey

Just over a year ago, Delia was faced with a dilemma. She had damaged her car, and had been quoted over €600 to fix it. Postponing the repairs wasn’t an option as she needed transport for school runs. But she didn’t have the money to meet such a large expense, and felt she had nowhere to turn.

 

Read more

“He will have a diploma. She will have a diploma.”

“Il aura un diplôme. Elle aura un diplôme,” chant the children of the Bon Pasteur School in Domaine Marial, a settlement at the edge of the mining town Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The thought that even a single boy or girl in this settlement might one day earn a school diploma is not something that would not have been considered possible a few years earlier.

Read more

“I’m in a better position now to get a job”: A step closer to employment thanks to NILS

Benoit loves to actively contribute to his local community, but as an asylum seeker has not been allowed to work. Thanks to the No Interest Loan Scheme, he recently returned to study and is preparing to enter employment in Ireland.

Read more
Dropati with 2 woman and cows

Two new businesses help Dropati find her own voice

Dropati is a housewife living in the rural village of Khursipar in Madhya Pradesh in central India. When Dropati first married, the management of the family’s two-acres of land was left entirely to her husband. Over the last year, Dropati has taken on a more active role, starting two new businesses, building a new home and finding her own voice.

Read more

“Thank God we are together again” – The path to Ireland for one Syrian family

It is a typical school scene: a group of children sit in a classroom, several more play football outside, a few lucky ones are having fun on the swings and seesaw in the playground. Over the roof of the building are the words ‘My school’ and on the other side of the picture is written a single word: ‘Welcome’. A Syrian flag flies above the school, while a backdrop of mountains, birds and fruit trees suggest an idyllic valley setting.

Read more
Jayasri

Sharing Success in a Dairy Cooperative

Jayasri and her family – her husband, two children and parents-inn-law – are landless. Because they have no land of their own to farm, the family is entirely dependent on the irregular wages they earn as agricultural day labourers and selling the milk from their buffalo cow.

Read more

Economic Independence Helps Reduce Violence Against Women

The women of Domaine Marial are sewing a bright new garment. Many hands hold down the colourful fabric as one of the women irons a straight new seam.
They are part of a women’s economic empowerment project run by Good Shepherd at their training centre on the outskirts of Kolwezi, a town in the southern-most province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Read more

“When you have passion for something it is not difficult”: How NILS helped Champion follow his dreams

Champion is passionate about planes and recently undertook an introductory course in Aviation Engineering, thanks to the No Interest Loan Scheme. It was an important stepping stone for him as he builds his career and life in Ireland.

Read more

When a household appliance breaks it usually needs to be replaced immediately, but finding the money to pay for it can be a struggle. When it happens just before Christmas, the financial pressure can be even more intense. The No Interest Loan Scheme is there to help people tackle those unexpected expenses.

Read more

Bumps on the Journey

Just over a year ago, Delia was faced with a dilemma. She had damaged her car, and had been quoted over €600 to fix it. Postponing the repairs wasn’t an option as she needed transport for school runs. But she didn’t have the money to meet such a large expense, and felt she had nowhere to turn.

 

Read more

“He will have a diploma. She will have a diploma.”

“Il aura un diplôme. Elle aura un diplôme,” chant the children of the Bon Pasteur School in Domaine Marial, a settlement at the edge of the mining town Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The thought that even a single boy or girl in this settlement might one day earn a school diploma is not something that would not have been considered possible a few years earlier.

Read more

“I’m in a better position now to get a job”: A step closer to employment thanks to NILS

Benoit loves to actively contribute to his local community, but as an asylum seeker has not been allowed to work. Thanks to the No Interest Loan Scheme, he recently returned to study and is preparing to enter employment in Ireland.

Read more
Dropati with 2 woman and cows

Two new businesses help Dropati find her own voice

Dropati is a housewife living in the rural village of Khursipar in Madhya Pradesh in central India. When Dropati first married, the management of the family’s two-acres of land was left entirely to her husband. Over the last year, Dropati has taken on a more active role, starting two new businesses, building a new home and finding her own voice.

Read more

“Thank God we are together again” – The path to Ireland for one Syrian family

It is a typical school scene: a group of children sit in a classroom, several more play football outside, a few lucky ones are having fun on the swings and seesaw in the playground. Over the roof of the building are the words ‘My school’ and on the other side of the picture is written a single word: ‘Welcome’. A Syrian flag flies above the school, while a backdrop of mountains, birds and fruit trees suggest an idyllic valley setting.

Read more
Jayasri

Sharing Success in a Dairy Cooperative

Jayasri and her family – her husband, two children and parents-inn-law – are landless. Because they have no land of their own to farm, the family is entirely dependent on the irregular wages they earn as agricultural day labourers and selling the milk from their buffalo cow.

Read more

Economic Independence Helps Reduce Violence Against Women

The women of Domaine Marial are sewing a bright new garment. Many hands hold down the colourful fabric as one of the women irons a straight new seam.
They are part of a women’s economic empowerment project run by Good Shepherd at their training centre on the outskirts of Kolwezi, a town in the southern-most province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Read more

“When you have passion for something it is not difficult”: How NILS helped Champion follow his dreams

Champion is passionate about planes and recently undertook an introductory course in Aviation Engineering, thanks to the No Interest Loan Scheme. It was an important stepping stone for him as he builds his career and life in Ireland.

Read more