… of another fantastic year in DS Cork, Field of Dreams.
To all our members, families, friends, supporters – thank you to each and every one of you who has helped us achieve our goals in 2018 and we hope you will continue to support us into 2019. Remember, a dream is not just for Christmas! Read on for a recap on all the wonderful things that 2018 brought.
We have 2 programmes running with 16 participants in total. All are adults with Down syndrome from the Cork region. As we write, 8 trainees are on Work Experience in Marks & Spencer Cork, learning invaluable skills for future employment. These participants are working towards two QQI Level 3 Awards in Work Experience and Planting and Potting by Hand. And we can assure you they are having great fun along the journey. The other 8 participants attend our Activation Programme which supports their social, communication and life skills. The Field of Dreams is a unique model of social farming , where all those learning, working & volunteering here get to enjoy all the benefits of working in nature in this inspirational, holistic and joyous horticultural site.
Growing and Harvesting
2018 has seen another transformation on site. We may have had the infrastructure from last year but this year we have ‘grown’ into it! . We are expanding production in 2019. The Field is now home to a serene remembrance garden. We have hosted events and attended others, including The World Down Syndrome Congress in Glasgow, Social Farming Training in Mallow, BLOOM in Dublin & National Social Enterprise Forum in Thomond Park. We also had a fantastic presence at the Munster Agricultural Society Summer Show where we sold our first ever produce from the Field of Dreams- that was a very special moment for all of us!
Our team is growing also: Along side our manager Debbie Kelleher, horticulturalist and CETB tutor Nicky Green , CETB tutor Deirdre Fraher, we have recently been joined by Eva O’Donovan, employment support specialist and Mike Walsh, market gardener, We also have a wonderfully committed team of volunteers and Mary Coakley who is on Rural Social Scheme placement with us. Our front of house team is supported by our ‘back office’ team; Sharon Mulcahy, project development manager and Therese McGrath, accountant with admin and moral support provided from Down Syndrome Cork offices in Blackpool.
None of this can be done without the support of our sponsors. From government agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the CETB,the Cork County Council, & SECAD to the many small to large businesses of Cork, to every individual who organises a coffee morning or who gives up their time to help us on site, we are truly grateful for the support. The support of local organisations including the Munster Agricultural Society is hugely important to us, as is that of our neighbours around Curraheeen & Clash Road. You really are supporting the realisation of dreams.
May we take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas and a fruitful 2019. Go raibh míle maith agat agus na Nollaig sona duit.
Debbie, Sharon and all the team at Field of Dreams, Cork.
In March of this year our one day / week Activation Programme commenced on a 10 week pilot basis. This programme aims to provide meaningful activities and ongoing learning opportunities in the magical and safe environment of the Field of Dreams. It is geared at those adults who wish to partake in a variety of social and practical activities and gain new experiences in areas such as horticulture, catering and arts and crafts.
C-Field Construction leave no stone unturned for Field of Dreams.
We may have been quiet online recently but only because we have been really busy on site. The excitement is mounting every day as the plan takes shape before our eyes under the expert and careful eye of C-Field Construction Site Foreman, Gerry Ryan. Gerry, seen with our own Ray O’Callaghan, and his team have been fantastic – a pure pleasure to work with and seem to be enjoying helping the dream unfold as much as we are. As you can see from the image, the construction work is very nearly complete and it seems an excellent time to thank C-Field Construction for their huge support of this project. Míle buíochas leis an bhfoireann ar fad.
Press Release. 18th February 2017
The Field of Dreams is a horticultural and social farming initiative by Down Syndrome Cork which will provided meaningful work and life skills development opportunities for adults with Down syndrome. On Saturday 18th February, the ceremonial ‘turning of the sod’ was celebrated at the Field of Dreams ,in Clash Road, Curraheen, on a 3 acre site leased from Munster Agricultural Society. Adults with Down Syndrome were joined by their families, invited guests and supporters on this beautiful spring day to mark the culmination of five years hard work.
Ray O’Callaghan, Chairman of Down Syndrome Cork gave a brief background to the project, what inspired it, and why it is so badly needed. He thanked the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Health and Cork Educational Training Board for their essential support.
Special guests included County Mayor Cllr Seamus McGrath, Minister Michael Creed TD, Kathleen Lynch and celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin – all of whom spoke eloquently about the challenges facing adults with Down Syndrome and their families. They acknowledged that the 95% unemployment rate among adults with Down Syndrome is unacceptably high. They also endorsed the aim of DS Cork in supporting its adult members to gain skills and experience that will improve their job opportunities.
Ray thanked the Cork business community for their help in making the Field of Dreams a reality, in particular the following key sponsors: PM Group, CField Construction, M&S, ESB, Keelings, Dansko Food Ltd.
A reception at the Kingsley Hotel, Victoria Cross ensued, with Dansko Foods kindly sponsoring refreshments for the 80+ people who attended. Adults with Ds hosted this reception, and they used this opportunity to showcase their own achievements and abilities.
The event was formally closed by Ray, who thanked everyone again for their support, and he commended the unwavering dedication of the Board members for to the project. He reminded all present that we DO need more financial support, we DO need expertise in different shapes and forms…we DO need volunteers….in his words ‘loads done, loads more to do!’
As a fitting note to the Sod-turning event, builders are scheduled to break ground at the site over the coming weeks.
For more information on being part of the Field of Dreams, contact Sharon Mulcahy on email email@example.com
For more photographs follow Facebook link
Diarmuid Gavin was in town this week to discuss his design ideas for the ‘Fun’ element of the Field of Dreams project to commence soon in Curraheen, Cork. Diarmuid responded some months ago to a letter from Field of Dreams’ Chairman Ray O’Callaghan asking for his input.
Under the expert eye of Diarmuid Gavin
we held a sowing seeds workshop in Centre 21 in March 2016. Read more
Planning Permission granted
We received news yesterday that Field of Dream’s application for planning permission to Cork County Council has been successful. If dreams like ours were fueled by excitement then we’d be up and open for business on the excitement of the last 24 hours alone.
Our dream will become a reality because the momentum is building. For the past couple of weeks we have approached a number of Cork businesses about the possibility of building sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships into the future. The response has been very positive – if we haven’t chatted yet please get in touch. The excitement is infectious. You’ll find more information on the nuts and bolts of our project here.
Visiting the Field this morning were Tony McGrath ( not in photo ), Jason Bane and Ray O’Callaghan, all Field of Dreams Board members, who walked the site with Eoin English, Irish Examiner senior journalist. The sun shone and it was easy to envisage that our dreams and those of countless adults with Down syndrome who will work and learn in this field will be realised.
Read more on the Field by Eoin English in tomorrow’s Irish Examiner or watch the taster video on Diarmuid Gavin’s recent visit here.
Planning permission has been sought
for the Field of Dreams horticultural project from Cork County Council this week. All going according to plan, the sod will be turned in early May. The education, training and work progammes will be fully operational by September. Since the idea germinated in Chairperson Ray O’Callaghan’s mind about 4 years ago a lot of work has been put in by the Board of Down Syndrome Cork. This week’s planning permission submission marks the closing of one chapter and the opening of the next.
“People said I was mad”, says Ray, laughing ” but the field is about to happen and as the man in the movie says ‘People will Come, People will come'”, referring to the 1989 movie ‘Field of Dreams’. But Ray O’Callaghan’s actual inspiration came from a TV programme showing the benefits for adults with Down syndrome and their families, when introduced to work in a farm setting. Field of Dreams, Cork will build on this and provide meaningful work and life skill development opportunities for adults with Down Syndrome within a market garden setting.
There is a definite feeling of magic in the air of the 3 acre Curraheen site this week following the planning permission application. Thrown into the cauldron is
- the enthusiasm of the adults with Down syndrome it is intended for,
- the grit and determination of the Board members,
- the advance purchase enquiries from Cork businesses
- the opportunities for local, national and international businesses to come on board with sponsorship, expertise, materials and in many more ways.
- and a little sprinkling of sparkle dust, of course.
‘People will come, Ray. They will most definitely come’.
Many thanks to the Evening Echo for their article published this evening.