News from the UC Sustainability Office


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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.

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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!

IMG_1712

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!