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Mayor congratulates local winners of My NI Climate Heroes

14 October 2021
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, has congratulated a local family after they won the My NI Climate Heroes competition for their efforts in helping the environment.
After an online poll where the public had to vote for their favourite Climate Hero, mother and son, Aine and John Kivlehan, emerged victorious and will receive a National Trust voucher to the value of £150.
Aine and John began growing their own food this year after signing up to the National Lottery funded Acorn Farm 'I can grow' project which involves 250 local families being mentored by a horticulturalist in growing their own fruit and vegetables over an 18 month period. Participants have received raised beds, seedlings and guidance on how to nurture their plants. The project is delivered by the Community Foundation NI in partnership with The Conservation Volunteers and Co​uncil.
Mayor Warke congratulated the pair, saying, "It fills me with pride to see a local family like the Kivlehans doing their bit for the environment and turning their hand to growing their own food.
"Not only is this a lovely bonding activity for families, but it saves money and helps our environment too, reducing our reliance on importing fruit and vegetables from farther afield. This helps cut carbon emissions and eases the pressures on nature.
"One of the positive things about the pandemic is how it has prompted people to connect to nature and start thinking about the journey of food and how we can become more self-sufficient and sustainable.
"I'd like to commend all those involved in these types of initiatives, particularly the team behind the Acorn Farm 'I can grow' project which will continue to have huge benefits for families across our District."
Acorn Farmer, Aine Kivlehan, said: "We've never won anything before, so this is a lovely surprise!
"It's incredibly satisfying eating a meal with ingredients grown in your garden. My son John really enjoys it too and we both find it's a great way to relax.
"I'm hoping to set up a little gardening club for some local children in the coming months to pass on some of the lessons we've learned as part of the wonderful Acorn Farm 'I can grow' project. We are just so delighted to be part of this and to be given the opportunity to do something so positive for our environment."
As a Primary 1 Teacher and mum of an energetic 9-year-old, Aine has a great grasp of the positive impact that growing your own can have on children and family life.
Having done a little bit of growing in the past, Aine was so excited to see the Acorn Farm 'I can grow' project's call out for interest to people in the Derry City and Strabane District area and signed up to be part of it. Since then, Aine and her son John have really embraced growing together - reusing old wiring and containers to nurture their very own fruit and vegetables and taking great care of the seeds in the raised bed supplied by the project horticulturalist.
"John really loves checking on the veg and watering the plants and I've enjoyed getting some tips from the horticulturalist which I've passed onto friends. It's lovely being able to lift something from your back garden and bring it into the kitchen to cook for dinner.
"It has been catching too with neighbours popping over to have a look and being inspired to give growing a go themselves."
Aine looks forward to the time when, as a community, they can begin to come together, share produce and have little tasting sessions in each other's gardens.
"We have to take care of our community and 'I can grow' is empowering us to be more self-sufficient while cutting out all the pollution involved in transporting food. We hope that it's the start of a wider movement saving families money, helping them eat a bit healthier while caring for our environment and instilling that ethos within our children."