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2017 Allianz Garden Show Ireland - Fabulous Festival of Flowers, Food & Fun

2017 Allianz Garden Show Ireland - Fabulous Festival of Flowers, Food & Fun

2017 Allianz Garden Show Ireland runs from 5th-7th May at the stunning Antrim Castle Garde...


The Value of Co-Design /Co-Production as a Methodology for Promoting Sustainable and Just Cities

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"There are diverse approaches to transdisciplinary co-production/co-design/co-creation, which all share the key features of deep and extended participation."

(Article based on the INTREPID Winter School training session on 16th Feb 2017)


Although the conventional expert-led approach to knowledge production relies on compartmentalized expertise, this remains the dominant form of practice around the world, in both urban and non-urban contexts. Similarly, while the virtues of interdisciplinarity are widely appreciated, institutional structures and systems of academic organization and evaluation generally perpetuate or even reinforce narrow disciplinarity. 

Conversely, numerous forms of participatory research, often pioneered in the context of ‘development’ work in the global South, seek to get beyond narrow consultation of the intended beneficiaries of planned interventions by engaging them more actively in planning and decision making. While sometimes successful, pressures of time and resources commonly lead to dilution or shortcuts. This invariably reduces the extent of participation, sometimes to little more than conventional short consultation exercises. Perhaps the best-known example is how rapid rural appraisal (RRA) evolved as a quicker and less deep version of participatory rural appraisal (PRA), an approach associated most closely with Robert Chambers (Chambers 1994a, b, c).

More recently, bold new initiatives have sought to overcome these problems through bringing teams of different stakeholders, including academics, together to undertake joint research. This is the essence of transdisciplinarity (Lawrence 2015; Simon and Schiemer 2015). It requires the researchers from the different stakeholder groups to share their respective understandings of the issue at hand and to agree that it does constitute a shared problem that they wish to research. If yes, then they need to develop and implement the methodology jointly, undertake the analysis and output writing together and support the partner stakeholder or institution that has the formal responsibility for implementation. 

There are diverse approaches to transdisciplinary co-production/co-design/co-creation, which all share the key features of deep and extended participation. Hence they have the potential to overcome the shortcomings of traditional research approaches and improve the appropriateness of solutions and their chances of successful implementation (Polk 2014; Durose and Richardshon 2016). However, there is no blueprint and each process must be formulated individually. Consequently, these arrangements are time-consuming and uncertain in terms of process and outcome. This makes the approach unattractive to some stakeholders and individuals, who prefer simpler and more predictable research methodologies and processes. Even reporting to funding agencies can be challenging because such processes do not sit easily with rigid annual budgets, activity schedules and annual reporting cycles and formats. 

Urban sustainability contexts, embodying concerns with equity or justice, provide some particular challenges, which Mistra Urban Futures strives to address through a series of inter-institutional partnerships in the five cities where it currently has transdisciplinary research platforms, namely Gothenburg and Malmö/Lund in Sweden, Sheffield/Manchester in the UK, Cape Town in South Africa and Kisumu in Kenya. These cities, ranging in size from around 200,000 to several million and located in very different geopolitical, socio-cultural and socio-ecological contexts in both the global North and South, provide diverse experimental testbeds. Each platform has its own approaches, developed or modified for local appropriateness (Polk 2014, 2015; Palmer and Walasek 2016). In a new set of projects being established for our second phase of work, another challenging element of originality is being added – structured comparative research among our research platforms where each platform chooses a locally appropriate project within the Centre’s strategic research themes. This enables the comparative research to have an important self-reflexive learning component (‘formative evaluation’) in addition to the substantive comparative research topic. As far as we can ascertain, such systematic international comparative research has never before been undertaken. This is thus highly innovative and will enable us to distinguish the relative importance of local circumstances and conditions as opposed to more generalizable issues. 

The importance of having institutional partnerships underpin the research activities is considerable. Not only does it lend each platform the political ‘buy-in’ and support of its participating institutions at the highest level, but it also provides enhanced status for each institution’s staff member(s) working within the co-production team, with the research commitment constituting a formal part of their regular job descriptions and expectations. These arrangements then also support the staff member within the institution which has the formal or legal responsibility for implementing the research outcomes and recommendations. Many participants particularly value undertaking the research and holding meetings in the platform’s offices, which serve as a ‘safe space’ in which to debate, argue and think outside the normal constraints and parameters and working practices of their respective institutions. Participants from non-academic institutions, in particular, tend to find this empowering, since they are not used to such debates and engagements, which range more broadly than their normal work parameters. 

Conversely, implicit power relations, both interpersonal among team members and among the participating institutions, often remain evident and can bias outcomes. It is also perhaps inevitable that structural constraints and power relations tend to circumscribe some parameters – such as, for instance, in defining what might constitute an appropriate problem for particular institutions to address or the terms in which research and subsequent remedial action are circumscribed.

The challenges are considerable but transdisciplinary co-design/-production methods hold potential for transcending some of the structural contradictions and vested interests that have bedeviled conventional approaches to knowledge production and application in pursuit of more sustainable cities that have the essential characteristics of being accessible, green and just (Simon 2016).

Relevant reading: 
Chambers, R (1994a) The origins and practice of Participatory Rural Appraisal, World Development 22(7), pp. 953-969.

Chambers, R (1994b) Participatory Rural Appraisal: Analysis of experience, World Development 22(9), pp. 1253-1268.

Chambers, R (1994c) Participatory Rural Appraisal: Challenges, potential, and paradigm, World Development 22 (10), pp. 1437-1454. 

Durose, C & Richardson, L (eds) (2016) Designing Public Policy for Co-production. Bristol: Policy Press. 

Lawrence, R (2015) Advances in transdisciplinarity: Epistemologies, methodologies, and processes, Futures 65, pp. 1-9.

Palmer, H & Walasek, H (eds) (2016) Co-production in Action. Gothenburg: Mistra Urban Futures http://www.mistraurbanfutures.org/en/annual-conference/conference-book

Polk, M (2014) Achieving the promise of transdisciplinarity: A critical exploration of the relationship between transdisciplinary research and societal problem solving, Sustainability Science 9(4), 439-451. DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11625-014-0247-7

Polk, M (2015) Transdisciplinary co-production: Designing and testing a transdisciplinary research framework for societal problem solving, Futures 65, pp. 110-122. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2014.11.001

Polk, M (ed) (2015) Co-producing Knowledge for Sustainable Cities. London: Routledge.

Simon, D (ed) (2016) Rethinking Sustainable Cities: Accessible, green and fair. Bristol: Policy Press. Available on open access from https://oapen.org/search?identifier=613676;keyword=Rethinking%20Sustainable%20Cities

Simon, D & Schiemer, F (2015) ‘Crossing boundaries: complex systems, transdisciplinarity and applied impact agendas’, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 12, pp. 6-11, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2014.08.007

Source: Public Space - The Value of Co-Design /Co-Production as a Methodology for Promoting Sustainable and Just Cities

Featured Event


11 September 2017 - 13 September 2017

The NEC @ North Ave, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1NT, UK

Glee Birmingham 2017

Join us at Glee 2017 to see the launch of hundreds of new products, discover the future customer buying trends and seize the opportunity to meet over 500 suppliers!

At Glee we bring the most exciting exhibitors together with the most powerful and influential visitors and buyers in the industry. Spread across 8 select show sectors Glee offers three jam-packed days of networking, selling and purchasing which are not to be missed. Whilst discovering the latest in innovative products, you can also meet hundreds of new and existing suppliers all under one roof. Taking place at the perfect time of year to re-stock your shelves just before Christmas, Glee is the most crucial garden trade event in any retailer’s calendar.

Offering thousands of the newest and most inspirational garden retail products from over 550+ suppliers, Glee welcomes all kinds of exhibitors from across 8 carefully edited show sectors. If you have your own brand, garden centre, shop or make or grow your own products, we have a spot just for you. With visitors from multiples, independents and online retailers, it’s the perfect opportunity to launch and showcase your product collections, nurture your existing relationships and grow new ones.

Date, Time & Location
11 to 13 September 2017

The NEC, Birmingham, B40 1NT

Mon 11 Sept - 9:00 - 18:00
Tues 12 Sept - 9:00 - 18:00
Wed 13 Sept - 9:00 - 16:00




Featured Event


05 May 2017 - 07 May 2017

Antrim Castle Gardens @ Antrim Castle Gardens, Randalstown Rd, Antrim BT41 4LH, UK

2017 Allianz Garden Show Ireland - Fabulous Festival of Flowers, Food & Fun

Antrim Castle Gardens will be bursting with colour from 5th - 7th May 2017 as Allianz Garden Show Ireland returns to the beautiful venue for a three-day festival of flowers, food, and fun.

With a renewed focus on gardens this year there will be more to entice and inspire every level of a gardener with a warm welcome being extended to Joe Swift from BBC Gardeners World, who will be sharing his extensive knowledge during a series of interesting talks on Friday 5th May.

Commenting on the return of the Show to Antrim, Allianz Garden Show Ireland Director Claire Faulkner stated,

“Thanks to the on-going support of our sponsors and partners, the 2017 Show will be bigger and better than ever before and I am delighted that Allianz joins us once again as title sponsor. This year will be a celebration of this country’s rich local heritage, a theme embraced by participants throughout the Show. So it is particularly fitting that the event is staged in Antrim Castle Gardens which is in itself a living museum of four centuries of local heritage”.

Local Northern Irish heritage is the influence behind the Show’s stunning large feature garden designed by Belfast-based Architect and Landscape Designer James Purdy who takes his inspiration from the Mournes, while the community focused team challenge gardens will celebrate CS Lewis and draw inspiration from Narnia.

Damien O’Neill, Group Head of Marketing for Allianz commented,

“Allianz is delighted, once again, to be title sponsor in 2017. Last year’s event was a huge success and this year looks set to be better again. Allianz is committed to the sustainability of the environment and we recognize the big part that our gardens can play in achieving this goal. We know that the Show not only brings communities together but also showcases the very best in the world of gardening with all its attendant benefits. We are very much looking forward to all that this year's Allianz Garden Show Ireland has to offer.”

Gardening enthusiasts will have plenty of opportunities to learn at the Show with a wealth of talks and demonstrations running throughout the three-day event including talks from GIY (Grow It Yourself) founder Michael Kelly, expert gardening writer Geoff Stebbings and local expert and former director of Belfast’s Botanic Gardens, Reg Maxwell.

Food also continues to be a major part of the Allianz Garden Show Ireland with the Food NI Kitchen showcasing the very best of local artisan produce as well as lively demonstrations from the much loved local food author Paula McIyntre. Paula will be joined on Saturday 6th May by the hugely respected food writer and cook Thane Prince who will be performing demonstrations and sharing her experiences through a series of talks. The Food Garden will offer visitors an exciting range of local farm produce to enjoy in one of the many quiet spots throughout the Antrim Castle Gardens.

New to the Show this year will be a series of Art in the Garden events including a collection of wall hangings specially created for the Show and made by a talented group of quilt makers from around Northern Ireland. The Art theme continues with a range of musical offerings including talented young singers from Sestina, a brass ensemble from the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra and the Sing for Life Choir as well as the ever popular Martello Jazz Band.

Mayor of Antrim & Newtownabbey, Cllr John Scott is also looking forward to welcoming the Show back to Antrim,

“Following the huge success of last year’s event, I am delighted that the Allianz Garden Show Ireland will be returning to Antrim Castle Gardens this year. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase this stunning and unique venue to the thousands of visitors who travel from throughout Ireland and far beyond to the Show each year. Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is extremely proud to support this prestigious event, which contributes so much to the economy of the local area.” 

Returning to the Show bigger and bolder than last year will be the Flower Arranging Pavilion which will welcome massive floral displays created by members of NIGFAS as well as a series of demonstrations and workshops from Gold Medallists Therese Quinn and Roberta Orr.

The family focused event has, over the last number of years, engaged with schools province-wide ensuring that the Show is eagerly anticipated by all the children who take part in the Allianz supported schools challenges. Primary Schools will be displaying their garden containers under the theme of ‘Enchanted Gardens’. Allianz Scarecrow Avenue meanwhile will come alive with scarecrows created by primary schools in the integrated sector who will be creating a ‘Legends of NI’ avenue.

Set in the stunning Antrim Castle Gardens the Allianz Garden Show Ireland continues to draw record crowds each year and this year and with extensive local parking and a short travel time from Belfast it really is an accessible day out for all.

Festival of Flowers & Gardens

Garden gurus galore!


Allianz Garden Show Ireland brings together all the gardening expertise you need to get those garden questions answered!

Celebrity Gardeners will be offering advice and sharing some of their experiences with Show visitors. Joe Swift, a familiar gardening face having been a regular presenter on BBC Gardeners World since 1998 and anchorman for BBC’s coverage of Chelsea Flower Show, joins us on Friday 5 May to talk about ‘Making your dream garden garden come true on a budget’.

Hear about the ups and downs of growing your own from GIY (Grow It Yourself)Ireland founder, Michael Kelly. Michael suggests the Top 5 Veg you absolutely have to grow! And our team of experts will be there to answer all your gardening questions in the Garden Talks Tent which this year will be beautifully decorated by the NI Flower & Foliage Association.

Gardens and displays abound in this year’s Show with ideas and inspiration on how to achieve the results you want in your own garden space. A feature garden, created by young gold medal winning designer, James Purdy, takes centre stage and will be a ‘WOW’ with its wacky ideas! Taking its theme from the Show’s 2017 ‘Heritage’ theme, James’s garden “Heritage of Place” is inspired by the Mourne landscape which was Tolkien’s inspiration for his Lord of the Rings novels.

Hundreds of plants from the specialist nurseries in the Growers Pavilion and Plant Mall will be on display and to purchase. The growers themselves are on hand to share their knowledge and give expert advice on planting and growing. And visitors will be able to choose their favourite display and be in with the chance of winning a 3D landscape design package worth £300 kindly sponsored by AG(Acheson Glover).

Demonstrations and workshops on how to create stunning flower arrangements in the Flower Arranging Pavilion run each day. In 2017 the new expanded Pavilion will feature stunning floral artistry created by members of NIGFAS from around Northern Ireland.

Festival of Food

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The Food NI Pavilion will be the focus for foodies at this year’s Festival!

Resident Chef, Paula McIntyre will be creating imaginative recipes for ‘Outdoor Dining!‘ and will be making use of all the local produce around her from Northern Ireland’s rich edible heritage. Paula will be sharing her superb knowledge of cooking with vegetables, herbs, and plants of all sorts including the creation of mouth-watering dishes from the produce you grow in your garden or in a hanging basket outside the kitchen!

On Saturday 6 May, the Food NI Kitchen hosts food judge from BBC’s Big Allotment Challenge, Thane Prince. Thane, who appeared as a regular chef on Ready, Steady, Cook, set up the acclaimed Aldeburgh Cookery School and has written extensively on food and cookery.

Gardens and displays around the Show will have experts on hand to provide advice on how to achieve the results you want in your own garden space to grow the herbs and vegetables you’ll really taste!

Indulge yourself in the Food NI Food Market! Local produce from cider and cheeses to chutneys and cupcakes, there’s mouth-watering local produce to buy.

Farm producers with locally reared beef, venison and fresh organic salads in the artisan food stalls are just some of the tempting delicacies on offer around the Show so visitors can relax and enjoy a delicious meal during their visit – or indeed share a cream tea with friends listening to the Jazz Band in the Punjana Tea Pavilion!

Festival of Family Fun