Consultant appointed to take forward ambitious Acorn Farm plans
13 January 2023
Derry’s ambitious Acorn Farm Project has moved a step closer, with the appointment of Doran Consulting Engineering to lead a multi-disciplinary team to design, deliver and project manage the capital project.
The Acorn Farm, which is based at St Columb’s Park, is a social innovation project supporting skills development through food growing and production. This sustainable food hub will embrace innovative climate smart technology for local food production while progressing new culinary practices and food systems. Once completed the Acorn Farm will be an iconic eco-tourism and visitor attraction as well as a focal point for community climate action and food growing
In addition to the appointment, Paul Mitchell Architects has also been confirmed to lead on the development of the Gatelodge at the entrance of the park.
Both projects are funded by the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund, and led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, working in partnership with the Community Foundation’s Acorn Fund and the Conservation Volunteers
Once completed the project will feature special grow domes, glasshouses, an orchard and apiary, with the facilities for water harvesting and solar harvesting, all promoting sustainable approaches to growing food both responsibly and economically. The overall budget of £6.2m will provide a unique urban growing space for the city.
Welcoming this latest milestone in the project, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Sandra Duffy, said: “This is a really innovative and ambitious initiative which will help change people’s perceptions about growing food and raise awareness about the benefits of growing food at home.
“As well as teaching practical skills it will provide a unique learning environment and will be central to environmental activity at one of the city’s most important green spaces. I’m delighted to have reached this stage in the project and look forward to seeing it progress over the coming months.”
Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison said: “Green spaces are at the very heart of our communities and they are vital in supporting the health of local people and offering a place for tranquillity.
“Our multi-million pound investment from our Levelling Up Fund, which kick-started this pioneering project, will help drive forward sustainable food growth in Northern Ireland and provide a much-needed sanctuary for people in Derry/Londonderry now and in years to come.”
Speaking on behalf of the Acorn Fund, Shana Kelpie said: “We have reached another important step today in this really exciting project for the city. As pressures continue to grow in terms of the cost of living, it’s even more important that we continue to explore new avenues when it comes to food production providing people with the knowledge and skills to become more self-sufficient. The environmental benefits will also be significant, helping to raise awareness about conservation and more sustainable practices.”
Robert Shearman from The Conservation Volunteers said: “The Acorn Farm will be a fantastic attraction within the wider St Columb’s Park, which is such an important shared green space for the City. It will greatly improve the sustainable food growing sector locally and I hope it will inspire both businesses and householders to explore new approaches to food production.”