GRAINNE Phillips, 31, runs a new a new innovative allotment business in Lisburn called The little Green Allotments.
Grainne, who has a farming background, wanted to share the experiences she was able to have with wildlife and the outdoors with those who didn't. She says she also wanted to change people's attitudes to where food comes from, to nature and wildlife and to encourage people to get outdoors and experience the joys of what allotment gardening can bring for both the body mind and soul.
Grainne is also giving over some of the land to the Woodland Trust to create a new woodland for Lisburn, and running ongoing community planting projects to encourage everyone to get involved with nature. The Little Green Allotments is set to become a venue for events from open theatre, bushcraft and survival skills, well-being workshops, live music nights and even a regular market.
I wake up at 7am and open up the allotments at 8.30am. I work from an office on site at the top of Whitemountain. What makes the Whitemountain such a unique and special place is the breath taking views which roll on as far as the eye can see to the Mountains of Mourne right the way round to Lough Neagh.
As the site is used by the public I have to ensure the social areas are clean and tidy. Then I check the fields and make sure all the allotments are ok. You could find me out putting up fencing for a new customer. I don't shy away from hard physical jobs. When a new client takes up an allotment I have to go and buy supplies to erect the fencing. I really enjoy working outside.
I spend a lot of time explaining the service I offer to the new clients and tell them about the membership available and what it involves. I also sit down with them and plan how they want their allotment to look and listen to their ideas.
I am here to give advice and tell them the best options. As well as having land for growing fruit and vegetables, keeping chickens or bees, plot holders also get access to studio spaces, a wet room and a chill-out room with kitchen facilities. The site boasts stunning countryside views.
I write down their expectations and how I can help them and then I place all their information into a folder which is stored away. My background is in hospitality so I do really enjoy working with the public. You get to meet all types of people, young and old, with lots of different needs and desires.
As well as the allotments I have the general running of the business
to do. If I'm not outside I'll be in the office organising promotions,
working on the internet site or organising events. I run markets
regularly at the site and this takes a lot of preparation.
I have to plan well ahead to make sure the calendar is full of exciting events to attract people and keep them interested.
Lisburn has something new and innovative to offer everyone. Its exciting, new and fresh. Somewhere to escape to, your own little piece of heaven. I wanted to modernise Allotment Gardening as well as give people something more, something to get excited about. I am very passionate that The Little Green Allotments is not just a growing space, not just an allotment so as to grow your own, but somewhere to have bags of fun both inside and outside of the allotment.
So that is why I created not just a growing space but a social space, a reflective place, a weekend space, a learning space, a lifelong space and much much more. I am delighted with how the business is going and that so many people are getting to benefit from it.