Westport food security project wins community climate action collaboration

Posted on: 14 February 2024

A Westport climate action project that will cultivate mini-forests and edible landscapes to enhance food security has been announced as the national winner of a community climate justice project call out by Trinity College Dublin.

Westport food security project wins community climate action collaboration
Anne Kearns (Trinity), Caithriona McCarthy (Edible Landscape Project), Eithne Larkine (Westport Tidy Towns), and Dr. Mairéad Hurley (Trinity)

As the wining project the One Westport Tree Town Initiative will be supported by the LEVERS climate action team from Trinity’s School of Education, to build community-led multigenerational learning projects that will tackle climate issues specifically identified by the group. LEVERS will focus on working with the Edible Landscape Project and Westport Tidy Towns on issues of food security, biodiversity enhancement and planting for sustainable land use and flood protection.  

The two-year project will also develop a training programme for local community groups, post-primary schools, and individual members of the community, which will adhere to the vision of the Local Learning Venture at the heart of the LEVERS project. The mission of these Learning Ventures is to activate learners to respond to issues of climate justice of local relevance through participatory, collaborative projects. The projects are designed with and for communities and local schools to provide a place for formal, non-formal and informal learning to occur.  

LEVERS is a €2.4million European research project led by Trinity’s School of Education, which supports people to take climate action within their own localities and communities. The project nurtures and builds action projects and partnerships across Ireland, scaling the impact of community and school-led initiatives. The aim is to ensure that educators, leaders, and community members develop the confidence to embed climate action in their life and work. 

Dr Mairéad Hurley, Assistant Professor, School of Education, Trinity, and Principal Investigator of the LEVERS project commented: 

“Last October, LEVERS launched a national open call to identify schools and community groups which were interested in collaborating with us to scale up the actions they were taking to address the climate issues in their local areas. Our judges were impressed with the high quality of applications we received from right across Ireland, ranging from community gardens aiming to simultaneously address sustainability and literacy challenges, to community groups working to preserve their local waterways. 

“It was a challenge to pick only one, but today we are pleased to announce One Westport as the winning submission. The Westport proposal impressed us with its holistic approach to considering food security in the west of Ireland.  In their application they reflected on the experience of empty supermarket shelves during the storm known as ‘the Beast from the East' in 2018, which highlighted the vulnerability of food supply in rural Ireland. The community are acutely aware of their susceptibility to supply chain disruption as extreme weather becomes more and more frequent due to climate change.  Motivated by this experience, the group are proposing a planting project which will invite the wider community to get involved in planting mini food forests in various locations around the town 

“As a collective of community organisations, educators and local businesses, One Westport is already doing so much to make Westport a better place to live for its inhabitants, and we’re very excited to work with them to develop this new project further, as we see great potential for students and citizens of all ages to get involved in tackling climate change through collective community action.” 

Caithriona McCarthy Edible Landscape Project and member of the One Westport Team explained  

’We are really excited to work with the LEVERS team from the School of Education in Trinity College Dublin. We hope that through working together Westport will be celebrated for embodying principles of self-reliance, sustainability, and community well-being. This project will focus on food security but also contributes to a more connected, resilient, and environmentally conscious community and delivers on the overarching vision of One Westport, that is, to create a great quality of life for all. It is hoped that the LEVERS-One Westport project will serve an example for other schools and communities aiming to tackle climate action projects in their locality.’’ 


LEVERS and the Westport Tree Town Initiative will be hosting a public event, on the afternoon of the Saturday April 20th, in Westport, to provide an overview of the project, meet the wider community, and make new connections. If you are interested in receiving more details on this event please contact levers@tcd.ie  

More About: 

One Westport is a company and network consisting of local and national organisations including Edible Landscape Project CLG, Westport Tidy Towns, Destination Westport, Leave No Trace Ireland, 15-Minute Westport, Westport United FC, Westport GAA, Eco-Congregation, Westport Community Gardens, Westport Family Resource Centre, and Bertra Connected. It also benefits from the contributions of individual members of the community who are interested in facilitating a more sustainable town. 


Since its launch in March 2023, LEVERS has been consulting with artists, activists, adult educators, biodiversity champions, charities, cultural organisations, community groups, educators, government bodies, local authorities, libraries, NGOs, researchers and scientists working on topics related to climate justice in Ireland. In 2023, the LEVERS team has been carrying out interviews with experts, attending conferences and networking events, as well as hosting three public consultation workshops. The key findings that emerged among these stakeholders were a desire for more professional support and networking opportunities, an emphasis on the importance of equity and inclusion in the climate change conversation, and a request for sustainability and climate issues to be more central to all subjects in Irish education. The insights were used to shape a national Open Call which One Westport won.  


For more information on the project please email levers@tcd.ie or visit www.leversforclimate.eu/.  


Media Contact:

Fiona Tyrrell | Media Relations | tyrrellf@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 3551