If anyone has a disused, overgrown walled garden around Mullingar, they should contact Judge Seamus Hughes.
He said he will make sure that enough court funds are made available to rehabilitate the land as it also rehabilitates young people before the court.
“I’d prefer to see people on community service growing vegetables and fruit than picking up litter,” he observed as he heard how a man who admitted growing cannabis for his own use, also grows his own veg.
If he is found suitable, Patrick Tiernan (40 ), Rickardstown, Collinstown will complete 240 hours in lieu of four months in jail after he pleaded guilty to having 14 cannabis plants at his home on July 1 last year.
Solicitor Louis Kiernan said his client had not been growing the plants for financial gain but to feed his own habit.
The 40-year-old has been smoking cannabis for many years, and got the seeds from a friend after he lost his job and couldn’t afford to buy cannabis any more.
There followed a fascinating insight into the growing of cannabis, the plants’ susceptibility to greenfly, and how the grower has to wait until the plants flower to harvest the buds.
Learning about how the plants survive and how an ounce of cannabis costs €300, with a good plant giving up to four ounces, while the plant itself is valued by the Gardaí at €400, regardless of its stage of growth, was “an education for me,” Judge Hughes said.
He said the Gardaí’s value of €5,600 was far less than the possible €17,800 Tiernan would have if all the plants survived.
“That’s only if you’re lucky,” said Tiernan.
“I imagine you’re a fairly lucky guy,” replied the judge, who added that Tiernan is “obviously very talented”.
He said he wished the Probation Service could persuade someone in town to give them a disused, high-walled garden, and then called on anyone in Mullingar who has such a property to contact him in writing at the courthouse.
He said Tiernan would be “ideally suited” to such horticultural pursuits.