News from the UC Sustainability Office


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Okeover Community Gardens are 15 and we’re celebrating!

Okeover’s beginnings in 2002

This year, Okeover Community Gardens turns 15. Over this time, the gardens have evolved to the peaceful, enjoyable space they are today.

In 2000, Kākāriki Environment Club first proposed establishing a community garden at UC, and in 2002 a suitable site was found. The gardens were based on permaculture and organic principles, with the idea of opening them up to staff, students and the wider community.

An orchard and annual vegetable garden beds were established, along with a pizza oven used for garden celebrations and events, a herb spiral and perennial vegetable beds.

2015-16 saw a redesign of the original garden beds, with the UC carpenters installing a mandala of macrocarpa raised beds. The previous Garden Coordinator, Jane Aistrope, designed the new set up. They allow for a crop rotation of four different groups of vegetables.

Future plans for the gardens include establishing a food forest in the orchard area – with edible and beneficial plants providing an understorey for the fruit and nut trees.

The gardens exist with the help of our wonderful cast of volunteer gardeners who put in their time at our Friday afternoon working bees. Over the years, we have had hundreds of keen beans weed, plant, compost and sow in the gardens.

To celebrate this landmark date, and the spring equinox (Sept 23), DigSoc will be hosting a gala, with pizza and cake, on Friday 22nd Sept from 3-7pm. Do come along and celebrate with us! Bookings are essential as space is limited; email uc.digsoc@gmail.com

Here is a montage of some of the many garden photos from over the years. It has changed such a lot! Click to enlarge the image.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Donna’s Garden Update: Spring ahead

It’s great to know we’re past the Winter Solstice (June 21) and heading for spring and warmer soil.

Turning the compost

The year has been a busy one so far. Semester 1 began with loads of volunteers attending our Friday afternoon working bees – up to 35 at one session! This meant that we were able to do plenty of planting, harvesting and general sorting of the gardens. Spring cleaning the shed and tidying the back shed were two great achievements.

In June we had a pizza party to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the end of Semester 1. We bid farewell to some of our international gardeners who had helped to make the garden a lovely place to be over the semester.

Our compost area had been rather neglected most of the year, while the garage at the back of one of UC’s properties, directly behind the bins, was being rebuilt. In June our bins were back and we were able to build a compost heap – a great workout for everyone – which heated up very nicely. We’ve just turned it again and it’s breaking down nicely.

Tatsoi

In terms of growing, we’ve been harvesting tatsoi, a very attractive leafy green veg, loads of delicious yams, kohlrabi, mini-caulis, garlic, surprise Urenika potatoes – the biggest once was about 15cm long – perpetual spinach and Florence fennel, Jerusalem artichokes and much more. The purple sprouting broccoli is still going strong (I’ve heard that plants can live for up to 5 years is you keep harvesting the florets!). We’ve got enough leeks and parsnips to see us through to the end of winter. The broadbeans we planted back in May are doing well, and we’ve sown some red-flowering ones to add a bit more colour to the gardens. Our garlic went in in May, and is doing well; we’ve got a couple of different types, Prinatour and Southern Softneck, and courtesy of Bridget, one of our volunteers, we’ve got some elephant garlic. The quince tree outdid itself again this year with more than 30kg of fruit which volunteers made into quince paste and jelly.

Some more garden highlights:

  • A garden angel who delivered Welsh tea cakes for afternoon tea
  • Revamping the herb spiral and establishing two herb baths. We’re slowly increasing the number of herbs we have in the gardens and will hopefully manage to keep our lemon verbena seedling going over winter!
  • The procrastabaking of some of our volunteers meant goodies for afternoon tea
  • Pineapple sage tea! A very refreshing and relaxing brew. Luckily we harvested and dried some leaves to see us through until next season
  • The huge puffballs popping up in the orchard – the largest weighed over 2kg!
  • The revival of DigSoc, the student gardening club, thanks to the lovely Ailsa and Alice

Tending the herb bath

In the next month or so, we’ll be working on the hugelkultur bed, planting NZ Cranberries/Chilean guava and creeping fuchsia, generously donated to the gardens by UC Grounds. We’ll also be putting in a selection of other perennial plants, including herbs. We’re coming up to the busy seed sowing and planting time of year, so that will be a big focus for the next few months.

The Gardens are involved in the Poroporo for the Port Hills project, organised by the Port Hill Rangers. The project aims to germinate thousands of poroporo seedlings to help revegetate the Port Hills following February’s fires. Our seedlings are up and hopefully by mid-August we’ll be potting them into recycled coffee cups ready for growing on a bit and then planting out. If you’d like to be involved in this, just let us know.

UC Sustainability will be holding Sustainapalooza in September (18-22nd), a week of sustainability-related events. On Friday the 22nd Sept, DigSoc will be hosting a Spring Equinox Gala at the gardens with pizza and cake. This will also be a celebration of 15 years of Okeover Community Gardens. If you’d like to come along, please book in, as spaces are limited. See the Sustainapalooza page for details.

For other information about the community gardens, check here. For information on becoming a volunteer and attending working bees on Friday (12-4pm), check here. The community gardens also have a dedicated Facebook Page.