- a blog about food and value

Free Rosemary

Rosemary: also widely available in my front garden

Rosemary: also widely available in my front garden

We all know that blackberries grow freely throughout Ireland in late summer and early autumn, but some other foods also cost nothing. I got the LUAS to Kilmacud Road last week and walked up towards the Beacon Hotel in Sandyford Industrial Estate. It was impossible not to notice: the side of the public footpath was covered with massive, fresh and fragrant rosemary bushes. I don’t think rosemary grows wild in Ireland, so it’s possible that the council or somebody else planted them.

If you live along here, you should definitely grab a handful (by the way, rosemary seems to grow as easily as mint, so it would make a good start for your herb garden).

According to my friend Philip, a by-law or loophole allows any of us to grow food on public land (or graze cattle and sheep, apparently). He’s about to start a vegetable patch just outside his house. With allotment space hard to come by, I reckon it’s a great idea. Some of his friends have suggested that random passers-by will nick his produce, but I’d be surprised to see people surreptitiously rob a carrot from the ground.

It’s got me thinking. If rosemary can grow freely along the side of the path, it’d be great to see community groups, or even a few organised individuals, identify some public land and start growing on it. The crops – carrots, garlic, potatoes, whatever – could be tended by a rota of volunteers, and the produce could be sold or perhaps shared on co-operative lines. Or, in the case of a long, thin strip of land such as that by the Kilmacud LUAS, herbs such as mint, rosemary, and parsley could take the space of a bunch of fruitless weeds. People could pick them as they wish, and I have enough faith left in humanity to believe that herbs are unlikely to be vandalised, or plucked bare by mad people.

Just an idea. I’m not going to do it but it’d be great to see some enterprising soul get the ball rolling. What do you think? And do you know any good spots around Ireland for other natural freebies, herb, fruit or otherwise.


  1. The county council could start planting apple trees instead of normal trees. How cool would that be, walking along a footpath and just plucking a lovely fresh apple. Kids would probably steal the apples at first (as they have been doing for years) but I reckon the novelty would wear off. Most people that have apple trees growing at home end up with an abundance of apples and can’t use them all up before the birds get at them.

  2. They’ve rosemary planted all over the estate where I live. Makes a nice addition to the normal shrubs and plants I have to say.

  3. There are apple trees planted on the side of public road where I live. A lovely idea as they are there for any one to pick and maybe it might encourage children to eat more fruit!

  4. have you ever heard of guerrilla gardening? see for example.

    I have never done any of it myself, but i love the idea!

  5. Initially I thought this was some kind of campaign for me, and I was thinking, “how lovely but I’m not enslaved, I’m just off work for the day and yes, I haven’t left the house, but I can if I wish and oh, I guess I should probably go out, or contact someone to let them know I’m alive, especially now I know that strangers I’ve never even met care about my wellbeing” but, eh, I see I was mistaken. How disappointing.

  6. There’s a couple of businesses in the States that will landscape your garden with entirely edible, easy to maintain things. I think it’s a great idea. My partner’s mother has about an acre, she uses a quarter of it for growing food, and she has produce coming out her ears. More than enough strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc to feed herself and the 19 family members living near by.

    I look at the perfectly manicured, grassy hill outside my housing estate and all I can think is “what a waste.”

  7. anyone living in a housing estate with public areas of grass should just organise a comittee and start planting it up with all edible landscaping eg fruit trees herbs etc . wouldnt it be a lovely way of getting to know your neighbours and everyone benefits.

  8. I love the idea in principle, and hate to be the naysayer, but I can’t imagine public herb/vegetable patches in Ireland not getting vandalised and ransacked. Am I just an incorrigible old cynic?

  9. That’s a wonderful idea, I’d love to see it catch on (hopefully in my area, I’d be happy to be on a volunteer rota)!

  10. Ever notice the tree lined roads and streets in estates are used by people living near to plant flowering plants at the base of the trees? So instead of flowery inedible plants, herbs, lettuce, chives, garlic, runner beans & peas etc growing up the trees could replace the flower arrangement! Iv lots of space in my front & rear gardens so if anyone wants to come along and plant there crops ney bother! Im in Dublin 5 so let me know.