As the nation is left reeling from the toughest budget in decades, Ear to the Ground looks at how communities have been pulling together to get through these tough times. There is less money for everything, and now people are seeking to find solutions closer to home.
Community investment in farming
In the past, farming involved the whole community, especially at harvesting or planting. But economic and technical progress has killed the need for locally grown food. Ella meets a community in Cork, however, that have started growing their own food once again.
The ethos of the Community Supported Agriculture Scheme is to directly connect local farmers with their communities and to support the development of local supplies and culture. Communities invest in the produce from the start, and thus share in the risk and in the profits of the end product. Witnessing how this is working out in Sheep’s Head, Ella questions; does this type of farming make financial sense? Could community farming be the key to our farming future?
Care to Drive
The centralisation of cancer services has caused major problems for rural cancer patients, as they are now forced to travel long, difficult journeys for essential treatments. Helen Carroll reports on a new pilot scheme where members of the community offer their time to improve the quality of life for these cancer patients.
Last year, the Irish Cancer Society rolled out a successful pilot project on the east coast, enlisting community volunteers to drive people to and from their hospital appointments, giving seriously ill patients more freedom and comfort on their journeys for treatment. Helen meets two men involved in the scheme - an Arklow man who travels to Dublin regularly for cancer treatment and his retired neighbour who regularly offers up his days to drive people to Dublin for their treatment.
From the farm to the stage
If you see a man standing in a field in Limerick belting out John B. Keane quotes to a herd of cows, don’t be too shocked. This week, Darragh meets a group of farmers in Granagh, Co. Limerick putting on a performance of The Field. He sees the community spirit that this drama group has created, and discovers one farmer with a novel way to learn his lines.
The local play is one of the most traditional community endeavors. The lure of the stage, the smell of greasepaint, the sense of collective achievement, is what draws the community together. But, for the farmers involved in this drama group, the issues raised in the play are also close to their hearts, as a proposed motorway is now threatening their fields.