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Personal Stories: Historian digs into the past to plot a way out of austerity

Barry Sheppard (38) from Belfast on his work with allotments and community farms

By Staff Reporter

Barry, who is studying for a Masters in Modern History at Queen's University Belfast, is looking at land movements, both urban and rural, in Ireland and Britain in the 1930s as part of his Giving Northern Ireland research bursary.

Barry said: "I am looking at small subsistence farming in rural areas and urban allotments in the cities, particularly Belfast.

"In the past five years the community gardens movement has sprung up in different areas of Belfast.

"Some have been established in Connswater Street, Skegoniel, and a new one in west Belfast.

"I am looking at previous examples and seeing what lessons history can offer to these current movements," he said.

"I am also interested in looking at these initiatives as alternatives to food banks, which are sadly on the rise and will seemingly continue to do so under the current Westminster Government lead by David Cameron."

Barry would like to do a PhD to continue his research.

"I would really love to continue researching how the lessons of history can have a positive effect on public policy by offering advice and answers to contemporary problems," he said.

"It's an area I think there is a real need for in today's difficult times."

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