With the support of The Funding Network, Ulster Garden Villages and ACE, we have been able to build a wonderful eco-friendly centre for the MANGRO Project. It has been a resounding success, giving us a permanent base at the centre of our project area. Built in a traditional style, of local materials, the centre provides accommodation for meetings, training workshops, and visiting guests, and houses the extensive resources which have been built up over the years. In the grounds there is a model kitchen garden, a tree nursery, a fish pond, and demonstration composting pits. The site has been well-planted with a wide range of useful trees, and from a bare site, the Centre has become an oasis of lush and fruitful greenery.
Much of the training for the project takes place at the Centre (though mangrove training takes place in the mangrove nurseries and plantations). Workshops include a wide range of activities: raising tree seedlings, grafting, making compost and natural pesticides, and vegetable growing. Farmers learn about sustainable farming techniques; Women’s Self-Help Groups have classes on income generation, and running a small businesses; and teachers are training on environmental education.
Twice a week local Eco-clubs visit and carry out study in the Centre grounds and library. This gives them a chance to learn about the work of MANGRO, and to carry out their own investigative projects. Each visit finishes with a natural history film from the extensive library. Many of the young people offer their services to the project voluntarily, helping at the Centre, tree nurseries and plantations. For example, the local college students, at their own suggestion, worked with MANGRO to plant trees for the mile along the new road between the Centre and the college.
The Centre has become a focus for all environment-related activities in the area, is well-loved and its work well-respected. We are all grateful to the donations of all of those whose help has made this exciting project possible.