N14Pic The timing of my visit to the Ballybeg Community Development Project (CDP) on  Thursday last coincided, well, coincidentally, with the news that Ireland was  officially out of recession.
And while the oft-referenced green shoots which politicians so frequently wax  upon are barely budding in most instances, green shoots of the literal kind are in  evidence out Ballybeg Way.
“Ballybeg Greens, a social enterprise that we got up and running here three years  ago, has been a great success,” said CDP Manager Liz Riches.
“We’ve combined the horticultural training and development work which we  conduct in our Community Garden (a stone’s throw from Liz’s office) into Ballybeg  Greens, which is currently supplying salad leaves, edible flowers, specialist vegetables and herbs to the restaurant sector in Waterford – and it’s going really well.”
At present, Ballybeg Greens’ produce can be found on dishes served at Waterford’s La Boheme, Bodega, the Fitzwilton Hotel, 33 The Mall, along with Tramore’s Bleu and The Vic and the Copper Hen in Fenor.
It was also among the local suppliers availed of during the recently staged Waterford Harvest Festival.
And plans are firmly afoot to see the company expand in the near future, Liz revealed.
“In terms of the restaurants we’re supplying at present, given what we can produce from the garden we’re currently operating in, we’re at capacity,” she said.
“But Waterford City Council has, I’m pleased to say, provided us with an additional portion of land which will allow us to expand the business.
“We’ve developed and submitted our business plan for the new garden, and on that site, we’re aiming to install 12 polytunnels which will allow us to increase our supply to 30 restaurants, which would be a big step forward, one which we’re all very excited about.”
Liz added: “We’d also hope to develop employment opportunities for people who have been trained by us through our FÁS programme, which will, in time, be another positive by-product of what we’ve put in train here since 2010.”