News from the UC Sustainability Office


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Donna and Chloe taking over the UC Community Garden reigns

UC has two community gardens on campus: Okeover (off Engineering road) and Dovedale, where you can go to rest and revive, or to volunteer (Okeover, every Friday 12-4 pm). A few months ago we said goodbye to Jane Aistrope, UC’s former community gardens coordinator, who made a huge contribution to how the gardens look and are being run. And we welcomed Donna and Chloe, the lovey, capable women who are taking over the garden reigns.

Donna Lusby

Kia ora, my name is Donna Lusby. I’m the Community Gardener at Okeover. I am originally from Paeroa in the North Island, and came via Wellington and Wanaka to Christchurch! In the past I studied languages (French, Spanish, Japanese) and was involved in English language teaching in NZ and overseas for a number of years. I’ve also spent time working in student accommodation in Wellington and Christchurch. I’m currently finishing the second year of a course in organics at the Biological Husbandry Unit at Lincoln University. I’ve always had a passion for growing, and am excited to be able to share that with students and the community at Okeover gardens. I also enjoy tramping, biking and the outdoors in general.

Chloe Wium

Hi there! My name is Chloe Wium. I’m working part-time for the UC Sustainability Office, helping to co-ordinate the community gardens on Friday afternoons. I did a BA at the University of Otago, majoring in Geography and Environmental Management. When I’m not gardening, I’m riding my horses, playing with my dogs, dreaming of travel, and hanging out at Addington Coffee Co-op.  I love being part of connected communities, and the UC garden is a pretty special place to be.

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

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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Jane’s Garden Update: Cool Seasons, Strong Communities

img_1748 img_1749 img_1893With such a mild winter and typically stable weather patterns we were lucky enough to have sunny Friday afternoons for most of winter. We have been enjoying beautiful produce, including mesclun salad, rocket, coriander, spring onion, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, silverbeet, leeks, yams, artichokes, asparagus and miners lettuce.  Before the year is out we will harvest broad beans, rainbow chard, kohlrabi, lettuce, radish, new potatoes, cherries and raspberries.  All fuel for a very busy period ahead in the garden!

Much sowing and planting is taking place for crops that will feed us next year. From fruits, leaves, roots and beans to herbs and flowers. All manner of annuals are germinating and reaching their leaves to the sun and their roots into to the soil. Hands on gardening aside, there has been some interesting happenings over the last few months.

img_0160In July we had a farewell pizza party for two of our volunteers, Timm and Lou. Timm, from Germany, had been gardening with us since 2013 whilst undertaking his thesis, and was the Digtator for Digsoc gardening club. Lou, from France, had a short internship at UC to prepare a case for moving a log cabin into the community gardens. While the project is on hold for now, Lou was a great consultant and Super Gardener!

In August we hosted ‘WEB’, a sculpture exhibition by UC art students. Six works were installed around the Okeover Garden for one week.  As a public space exhibition the students had to respond to the space. They consulted with the community about the history and f14054250_10153858425032336_6616223816447536865_nunction of the garden, and how to integrate that into a working environment.  This was a fantastic example of how the garden can be a learning environment in many ways and we look forward to hosting the next one!

The Edible Campus Tour was held during Eco Week in September.  Around 30 people joined us at café 1894 to begin an hour long jaunt from tree to tree with our freshly updated edible campus map. While most of the edibles are established stand-alone trees dotted around the campus, there is also a cluster of fruit trees which was planted 5 years ago around the 1894 café courtyard. In both cases we hear that the plants are so well foraged that only the earliest of birds share in the harvest. This seems to support the findings of research conducted in 2014 by Kate Walsh. The report, titled “Understanding Students’ Accessibility and Barriers to Nourishing Food”, shows that growing more fruit and nut trees on campus was one of the most popular options for improving student access to healthy food.

14462972_10153956995402336_3546704790700847864_nDuring the tour we also looked at one of the proposed orchard sites by Te Ao Marama and talked about how edibles in the Okeover Stream were of bio-remediation value rather than as a food source. We learned about the interesting uses of walnuts (ink, dye, medicine, food) and gingko (food, tea, medicine) and received some feedback about how to engage foragers in the care-taking of edible plantings as a form of reciprocity.  We ended the tour at the beautiful Okeover Community Garden where the apricot and cherry blossoms delighted us.

It was a timely excursion as community feedback on the landscape master plan was being collected throughout that week. Apparently there was a good level of support for a more edible landscapes.

Another highlight of Eco Week was seeing a Community Gardener win a Sustainability Award. Tracey Tarrant received a Long Service Volunteering award for her 6 years contributing at Okeover Garden. Congratulations Tracey!!

img_1024It should also be mentioned that we are hosting students from the Organic Training College (BHU) in Lincoln. Donna and Julie, who have a wealth of gardening knowledge, are helping out most Fridays in the garden. Gardening with folk like these ensures that Okeover Community Garden is a place of learning, socialising and sharing quality nourishing food.

Thanks to all the gardeners and the extended UC community for all the support and interest you have in growing food on campus.

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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Abundance in UC Gardens – Jane’s Garden Update July 2016

IMG_1725 (2)UC has two community gardens on campus: Okeover (off Engineering road) and Dovedale. Every few months Jane Aistrope, UC’s community gardens coordinator, provides an update on what’s been happening in the gardens.

In May we had back-to-back pizza parties using our own Okeover pizza oven. We had a lunch to thank the University staff who supported Project ReScape, attended by grounds keepers, carpenters and management, who all played an important part in making it happen. We kept the fire burning and held an early dinner for the gardeners to celebrate food, community and the epic and unusual season we have had. With such a huge male-over in our garden, it’s been quite a feat to have continued growing and harvesting so much food. It was pretty nice to have Okeover Pesto as pizza sauce, using IMG_1704our own basil, hazelnuts and garlic. We also roasted Dovedale Crown Pumpkin to go with chilli, greens and herbs. Sometimes being a community gardener means being spoiled with bounty!

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We certainly had a long Autumn in 2016 allowing for late sowings of mescalin, spinach and herbs, and many lovely sunny afternoons out! Unfortunately the  warm days have caused our Brussel sprouts to blow (loose sprouts which are more like flowers) and some of our lovely leeks have gone to seed early. Now we have garlic shoots just poking through and the broad beans are all up and growing well. We continue to sustain our crops with liquid fertilizers made from worm rum, comfrey and nettles.

Winter in the garden is a good time to recoIMG_1857nfigure garden beds, prune fruit trees, sharpen tools, tidy the shed, plan for spring and read gardening books! We’ve already done a lot to finish off mulching the paths but we certainly have more reconfiguring to do in the orchard, starting with a new hugelkultur mound. This, pruning and mulching will occupy us until spring sowing begins.

IMG_1859 We are excited to be hosting another sculpture exhibition at the end of term 3. UC Sculpture students will have the opportunity to create works for outdoor public spaces and consider wider social and political issues around sustainability. Keep an eye out for this exhibition as it really brings another layer of interest and vitality to the garden.

For other information about the community gardens, check here. For information on becoming a volunteer and attending working bees on Monday (2-4) and Friday (1-4), check here. The community gardens also have a dedicated Facebook Page.

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Abundance in UC Gardens – Jane’s Garden Update March 2016

UC has two community gardens on campus: Okeover (off Engineering road) and Dovedale. Every few months Jane Aistrope, UC’s community gardens coordinator, provides an update on what’s been happening in the gardens.

We have been enjoying the changes of the post-makeover garden! Summer gardening in our new raised beds has been fantastic. People enjoy a nice solid edge to rest on and not having to bend down all the time! With lovely rich compost (UC’s own leaf mulch, rotted wood chip and soil) amendments the plants have made good growth and are cropping well. We have beans, courgettes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beetroot, celery, silverbeet, kale, lettuces, radishes, corn, potatoes, pumpkins, apples, pears, hazelnuts, herbs and winter crops of leeks, yams, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, quince and feijoa. Peas, beans and more winter greens will be going in soon. Big thanks, as always, must go to the gardeners who share the work and the many joys of community gardening. This is your garden!!

We also have our numbers in for 2015. We increased our veggie production again despite the interruption of the makeover. And our attendance has increased 40% on the previous year. Woohoo!

Speaking of attendance, our gardener numbers have had a boost since the return of the academic year, and we can carry on with some of the bigger tasks. It’s also great to meet new people and share the autumnal abundance. This year we’ve had gardeners preserving at home, making apple cider vinegar, dried zucchini and berry jam. We have also grown chamomile and dried it for making tea. There are many opportunities for growing and gathering plants for interests/hobbies. For example, hops, lavender, rosemary, water-chestnut, hazel canes and grape vines. Don’t be shy if you have a growing idea you’d like to try … gardeners love to learn from each other.

As for Project ReScape, I believe we are halfway there. The new planter boxes are now really starting to show the beautiful design, which blends the simplicity of straight edges with the unique character of the mandala. 2016 will be a year of continuing and finishing this project as we work on the orchard glade, a wheelchair accessible planter box, an outdoor kitchen and recladding the tool shed. Come and be part of the action whether you’re new to gardening, have green thumbs or are handy with tools. Friday afternoons can be as relaxing or energetic as you choose, but good people and fresh produce are guaranteed.

For other information about the community gardens, check here. For information on becoming a volunteer and attending working bees on Monday (2-4) and Friday (1-4), check here. The community gardens also have a dedicated Facebook Page.


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UC Garden make over – Jane’s Garden Update Oct 2015

As you may know, UC has two community gardens on campus: Okeover (off Engineering road) and Dovedale. Every few months Jane Aistrope, UC’s community gardens coordinator, provides an update on what’s been happening in the gardens.

Have you been through the Okeover Community Garden lately? Where oh where has our garden gone!! It’s spring and we are sowing into containers, sacks and use what little ground we have left. And, as usual for spring, we are growing seedlings to transplant … this time into newly constructed beds. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, where there was once a beautiful mandala-shaped garden is now a cleared site (with some interesting seedlings starting to pop up!) The orchard remains unchanged for now.

After 13 years of production, two issues in particular have prompted a renewal: deterioration of the edging material and a soil pathogen, Sclerotinia. Over 2015 we have been planning Project ReScape through consultation and collaboration with both the gardening community and the UC Facilities Management team. The design outcome blends the simplicity of straight edges with the unique character and legacy of the mandala, resulting in a hexagonal shaped design with raised garden beds. We are very excited by the renewal of this space and the quality of the materials being used.

Leading up to Eco-week we began the process of deconstructing the existing garden beds by transplanting anything worth saving and harvesting as much as we could handle. Next we held an event for Eco-week with the SVA Green Platoon where all the edging material and irrigation was removed, followed by a pizza lunch. During the following week contractors came and cleared the site using a digger and took the garden away in a truck! During our first working bee to re-activate the site, we built a hot compost using many materials from the University Campus, including plant debris from the now disappeared garden.

And so the life of the Okeover Community Garden carries on to enrich, nourish and soothe many a student, staff or local gardener. Make sure to check in on the progress and to be part of the action on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.

For other information about the community gardens, check here. For information on becoming a volunteer and attending working bees on Tuesday and Friday, check here. The community gardens also have a dedicated Facebook Page.

Until next time!


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Jane’s garden update – July 2015

Working bee busy beesAs you may know, UC has two community gardens on campus: Okeover (off Engineering road) and Dovedale. Every few months Jane Aistrope, UC’s community gardens coordinator, provides an update on what’s been happening in the gardens.

It’s been a fantastic end to the 2014/15 growing season.  We have had a high turnout to Okeover Garden working bees on Fridays throughout term 2 and have enjoyed a varied and plentiful harvest. The Dovedale Community Garden has had its first true season as an allotment garden, with 2 groups and 4 individuals growing a myriad of foods.

On Fridays we focus on sowing, planting, weeding and general care of annual veggies as well as worm farming, liquid fertilizing and of course harvesting! Tuesday sessions have been small but steady anThe winter garden 1d we’ve been working away at improving the orchard by creating a Hugelkultur (mound culture) planting nz cranberries, strawberries and autumn fruiting raspberries, and pruning bushes and trees.  There have been some interesting donations of a Turkish globe artichoke and a delicious pink flowering strawberry!

The sowing of broad beans and garlic in early May marked the turn of the seasons. The harvest has shifted with it and now we are enjoying leeks, parsnip, yams and winter greens. (Sadly the favourite feijoas have finished for the year.) And as winter is truly upon us now in July, only the brightest days will tempt more than a handful of gardeners along. Although the growth rate has slowed and the days are short there is plenty to do. Tree care is an important winter task as well as planning for the new season. We have BIG plans for Eco Week in September… The Okeover Garden is getting a makeover!! Or ReScape as we call it.. So watch out for some big changes and come along to the garden blitz to help remodel the growing beds after 13 years of productive use.

Oh, and we are “famous” :-): We had a visit from the Canterbury Community Garden Association who profiled the garden on their website and interviewed some gardeners for the June edition of radio show ‘Seeds and a Spade’ on plains FM.  Whoop!

For other information about the community gardens, check here. The community gardens have a dedicated Facebook Page. Our garden pet :-) The winter garden 2

Until next time!

 

 


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Jane’s garden news – April 2015

As you may know, UC has two community gardens on campus: Okeover (off Engineering road) and Dovedale. Every few months Jane Aistrope, UC’s community gardens coordinator, provides an update on what’s been happening in the gardens.

The Okeover Community Garden has been buzzing, loudly! Over the last 3 weeks record numbers have been attending our regular Friday afternoon gardening sessions. Gardeners have been getting acquainted with weeding, bug hunting, harvesting, path maintenance and the delicious produce so abundant at this time of the year.  We’ve enjoyed a pizza session, apples straight from the tree and hot corn on the cob. YUM! As the days begin to shorten the Quince will be ready for preserving as jam and jelly.  Seeds of tomatoes, beans and flowers are being saved.

IMG_1706If you are keen on doing a bit of gardening (or would like to learn), come and join in for a couple of hours during a Friday working bee. They run every Friday from 1 – 5 pm at the Okeover Community Garden (off Engineering road). No experience needed and you get to take some free veges home if you do a minimum of 1 hour’s work!IMG_1714

We are now also trying out a second working bee on Tuesday afternoons 2-4, so if Fridays have always been difficult for you then this may be your chance to try it out and/or become a regular gardener.  On Tuesdays we will focus more on the orchard area than the annual beds.  Don’t forget to like our Facebook page UC Community Gardens as we regularly post updates and things of interest for your enjoyment.

For other information about the community gardens, check here. The community gardens have a dedicated Facebook Page.

Until next time!

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