Getting a TASTE for Market Gardening

Some of our volunteers were invited to visit Flavour First our local veg box farm near Donaghadee.

It was a great opportunity to learn more about how commerical growing works. A big thank you to William and his family who have given us a generous donation to help our volunteers to carry out activities on our farm.  If you would like to know more about Williams family farm business go to his website.



Carer Event flyer

Feel Good Friday a morning of activities for Carers at the farm this Friday 14th June from 10.30 to 12.30.  This is an event supported by the South Eastern Health and Social Care trust as part of carers week.

A very big thank you to ATHELAS PLANTS

Growing Connections would like to thank Athelas Plants for their recent contribution. Their funds will go towards supporting our volunteers.

Without our volunteers giving their time and energy to make our project successful we would not be able to provide this unique rural environment, facilitating activities, in our woodland, which engage members of our community group and other marginalised groups.

 Thank you ATHELAS for helping to give people the opportunity to escape the pressures and isolation of everyday life and discover a sense of purpose in a calming environment where they can relax, socialise and learn new skills.

Athelas Plants is an exotic plant nursery based in East Sussex. They have a wide selection of exotic plants including Bamboo, Cordyline, phormium, Trachycarpus Fortunei, Cupressus Sempervirens, Phyllostachys Nigra, Callistemon Citrinus. If you would like to know more about them visit their website   ImageImageImageImageImage

Introduction and Recruitment Day for Growing Memories

We had a very enjoyable and successful Information Day for the project on Saturday 11th May, resulting in most of the visitors signing up to participate in the programme.

Our team of volunteers, and farm manager had worked hard to prepare the barns to welcome folk from Bangor and Ards down the farm.
Many had been on the farm as children or working in the area and journeyed through the Quarries Farm daily to and from work or school.

All gathered around the table

All gathered around the table

We had about 15 people gathered, and invited everyone around the table. We quickly realised there was no need for ice breakers as stories flowed between all ages!
Old maps helped all ages to see how the area had been in the 70's

Old maps helped all ages to see how the area had been in the 70’s

Folk had the chance to get reacquainted, and Dennis Neill kindly brought maps along of the area in 1968-69 and earlier, illustrating to all ages how the area has changed.

With a patch of dry weather we lead short tours of Growing Connections facilities on Quarries farm and Ruby shared a little ‘bread and butter’ with her Grandaughter, from the Hawthorn trees first Spring leaves.

John Irvine
It was wonderful to hear all the stories and fantastic to have such willing contributors!

We are looking forward to welcoming everyone back for the first session on Friday 31st May at 1pm.

We are also looking for some more Under 25’s to participate, so spread the word and if you know anyone ask them to get in touch
with Rachael 02891878997 or email we look forward to hearing from you.

Forest school sessions warming up..

We all will sleep well tonight, the children and grown ups alike. Thanks to our young friends for their company and their sheer boundless energy and enthusiasm , at today’s session. If we could hook them up to dynamos, the worlds energy problems would melt away..We had some great child led play today, the plan went out of the window, and we just followed their focus, it was wonderful!.If I spend days planning a session, and they decide to focus on something else, so be it, its in the brochure! and its a privilege to be part of. I wish Id discovered Forest School thirty years ago, but better late than never. Im here now!.The children were also delighted to discover the Fairy Village springing up, after Ferdinand the Dragon burnt it down, (by mistake of course!)
worm cradling, flag bearing..


all hands to the earth!

all the world is a classroom

deep play

everybody dig now..

flag bearer meets toby and Srchie

friendship tree

joan being child led..

niall and friend

pass the pine cone


toby and second worm

worm charming..

Growing Connections honeybees

Bees have survived the long winter, they are strong and healthy ready to return to National hive.
Volunteers have carefully cleaned the hive and prepared new frames for brood, were queen and bees stay together and keep stores of pollen, honey and young larvae.
On Saturday a small group of beekeepers with mentor from Killinchy Beekeeping Association moved them from Nuc box into carefully cleaned hive.
Great to see all the grubs [bee larvae] at various stages of growth and all the pollen stores from Dandelion and Gorse. Beautiful hexagonal pattern made by Queen laying eggs, and larvae at various stages of development.

Beekeeping team meeting at the farm today to rehome the bees in their summer hive

Honey bees at Growing Connections have survived the long winter, and today we moved them from small Nuc box into carefully cleaned hive. Great to see all the grubs [bee larvae] at various stages of growth and all the pollen stores from Dandelion and Gorse. Beautiful hexagonal pattern made by Queen laying eggs.”