Tread carefully

Go Bare-foot

VSO Dollar-a-day garden, Bloom 2010

Tim Austen’s third garden entry to the Bloom in the Park festival was a charity garden for the Irish branch of the Voluntary Sevices Overseas (VSO) charity. The garden was commissioned at the last minute for the show; the design and build were completed within two weeks to a budget of €1,000 only. The garden won a silver medal and raised the profile of the VSO’s work in Africa.

The idea behind the garden is to impart to visitors an understanding of and engagement with the work of the VSO in Africa (Malawi and Mozambique). They are supporting community initiatives to increase food production, teaching about nutrition and diversity of food in order to improve the quality of life overall. The title of the garden comes from the fact that many people survive on less than a dollar a day.

The garden is split in to two zones. Firstly, an area of low nutrient, infertile land through which a dirt track leads to the second part of the garden in which is placed a water supply, an outdoor classroom and vegetable growing area. The two zones are split by a simple fence, which can be traversed via a stile with the help of a hand that is symbolic of the ‘hand-up rather than hand-out’ ethos adopted by the VSO with regard to its work in Africa.

Visitors were encouraged to fully engage with the garden by going bare-foot through it.