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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New students: Introducing the UCSustainability Office

img_0464aWelcome to UC! Did you know that UC has a Sustainability Office?

We are an on-campus hub for people interested in creating positive change. We promote sustainable practices (like sustainable transport, re-usable cups); inform (about recycling practices, social or environmental issues) and host events (Eco week, Tiny house tours, etc.).

We work on healthy waterways and bike stands; and currently, together with other parties at UC, we are also guiding UC towards becoming a Fair Trade University. We work closely with the UC Eco Clubs and do  innovative projects, like UC’s compositing coffee cups trial.

We also run the UC Community Gardens (join in with a working bee, Fridays 1-5 pm) and Dr Bike (yes, they will do your small bike repairs for free!).

Stay connected: follow us on Facebook or Instagram, or check out our website.

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Dr Bike is back for 2017!

Olly (L) and Zac (R)

Dr Bike  is back for 2017 and starts on Tuesday the 28th of February! Dr Bike is a free fix-it clinic for basic bike issues available to both staff and students, funded by the Sustainability Office. This service provides basic maintenance and repairs such as punctures repair, tuning brakes and oiling chains.

Olly Ng and Zac Porter are running Dr Bike on Tuesdays, 12-1.30 pm on C Block lawn during term time. For more information, check here.

We are excited that Dr Bike will be using eco-friendly bicycle lubricants, thanks to Christchurch-based company Biomaxa!

If you’re interested in seeing how Dr Bike fits into the bigger picture about planning for cyclists at UC, you might like to look at the draft UC Cycle Plan 2014-2022.

Welcome back to uni and keep an eye out for these guys on Tuesdays!

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UC’s Sustainable Furniture: You might be sitting on Banks Peninsula wool!

 img_3806aWhen we talk about sustainability, it’s often about waste reduction or energy efficiency but not about procurement (how UC buys its goods from external parties). That’s a shame because UC’s procurement of “new” furniture has great sustainability features! We had a chat to Shelley Ranson from UC Procurement.

What does your team do? We provide purchasing and procurement services to the University.  In terms of Sustainability, we want to maximise social and economic benefits, and minimise damage to health and the environment. Often this means giving time to explore possibilities. For instance, by talking openly with supply partners we encourage them to review their existing sustainability initiatives and explore new opportunities. The Furniture Project is a recent example of this. 

The Furniture Project? With the pending completion of several major new buildings, and UC’s ‘normal’ ongoing requirement for new furniture, it wasn’t possible to furnish from existing stock, and a lot of new furniture was required. We selected four preferred supplies and a core catalogue range. During the project a Furniture Policy was written as well.

What sustainable features does the new furniture have? The core range furniture has the following features:

  • Environmental responsible manufacturing: Materials are low emission, sustainably sourced and designed for disassembly at end-of-life
  • Socially responsible manufacturing: Chain of custody for manufacture particularly with regard to working conditions of off-shore labour
  • Durability: E.g. AFRDI* and BIFMA** accreditation. This means the furniture is tough enough to withstand the high wear and tear environment of a university and won’t break or wear out as quickly as standard furniture
  • Ergonomic features: So that workplace health and safety is supported
  • Future reuse or recycling potential: The ability to relocate furniture for continued use around campus by establishing a standard range of furniture
  • Excellent warranty periods: Reducing whole-of-life costs and extending the functional life of the furniture

Developing a transparent supply chain has enabled us to understand the source materials and the location of manufacturing of our core range. Some of the selected products are locally manufactured in New Zealand. One example is the brand of soft seat covering of which the wool is produced from Banks Peninsula sheep!

What inspired the sustainability element in procurement decisions? Procurement meets fortnightly with the Sustainability Office to discuss current img_3808a projects and new initiatives. Through these discussions we have been able to identify potential ways in which UC can increase the use of environmental and socially responsible products and services. Also, Bronwyn Rice (our Procurement Strategist) comes from a background of sustainable procurement and brings her experience with Australian universities to UC.

And the old furniture, what happens to it? A robust disposal guideline is being followed, which means, for instance, that any furniture that can be reused will be stored***. We are also reviewing options for re-covering existing chairs to extend their life cycle. Obsolete items are at times given away or sold to local schools, education charities or UC staff/students. Our furniture storage partner (Allied Pickfords) has several partnerships, including charities, to facilitate this. Obsolete items are broken into component parts for scrap and recycling. Landfill is a last resort for damaged items that cannot be re-used, gifted or recycled in any way.

Finally, what are some of the other sustainable procurement initiatives? One is our collaboration with Futureworks, our Audio-Visual (AV) supplier. At the design stage, they advise on environmentally friendly options for installations (e.g. RMS is a solution that reduces energy consumption by remotely turning off equipment in empty rooms). They also offer environmentally friendly hardware disposal by arranging the delivery of obsolete hardware to recycling organisations. Another exciting collaboration is with our preferred Catering suppliers. They engage in a variety of activities, like supporting local producers where possible, using fair trade products, offering BYO mug options or arranging for food waste to go to farms.

Some other initiatives we are exploring include: Removal of packaging; compostable packaging including coffee cups, plates etc.; paper trial underway through UC print (Chamex) made from renewable and certified Brazilian forests; new cleaning consumable supplier (Advance Clean) who manufactures own range of eco-friendly cleaning products (Advance Nature); new preferred transport provider (Red Bus) are leaders in fuel efficiency and emissions reduction.

The University is in a great position to instigate change within supply chains and to support sustainability at a local business level.

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

*Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute                            **Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association ***Any furniture requirements should be done via a BEIMS request. More information available here.

 

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Wanted: University of Canterbury Sustainability Office Assistant

IMG_0744Here is a great chance to join our dynamic team!

So we are looking for a Sustainability Office Assistant.

About the role

This position is primarily focussed on supporting the Okeover Community Garden, but will also involve support for other Sustainability Office projects and programmes from time to time.

This is a casual position for 6 hours per week @ $18 p/h, starting soon! At this stage, the position is guaranteed till the end of April 2017.

Community Garden maintenance

The Okeover Community Garden is a key project of the Sustainability Office. To ensure it is kept in good condition, the following tasks need to be fulfilled:

  • Propagation
  • Soil fertility management; e,g, composting and crop rotation
  • Seed-saving
  • Planting
  • Weeding
  • Irrigation
  • Pruning
  • Tool sharpening
  • Shed cleaning
  • Pest, disease and disorder management
  • Harvesting and distribution
  • Reporting: (attendance and harvest statistics)

Community Garden Coordination

Volunteers attend the community garden on a weekly basis and it is essential that the person in this role is there to welcome, direct and instruct volunteers as they arrive, and maintain a happy, healthy group culture:

  • Facilitate group meetings (and take notes)IMG_0741
  • Relationship management
  • Community engagement
  • Welcoming new gardeners (including doing inductions)
  • Organising afternoon teas
  • Providing instruction or direction for volunteers as appropriate.
  • Managing health and safety requirements in the gardens.

Other tasks as required

From time to time the Sustainability Office will require the Sustainability Office Assistant to assist with other projects.

Reporting

This position will report to the Sustainability Advocate or a delegated staff member.

Key attributes

  • Organic gardening knowledge
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Leadership
  • Time management

Experience

  • Community gardening or other gardening work
  • Community development work

Applications must be made by 5pm Monday 12 December.
Please send a brief cover letter and CV to matt.morris@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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UC Sustainability Award nominations now open!

UC sustainability Awards return

For the first time in 3 awards logo smallyears, the Sustainability Office will once again host the UC Sustainability Awards as part of Ecoweek 2016. The Sustainability Awards recognise the efforts of our university community to improve the world around us. This can be through research projects, community initiatives, departmental resource efficiency leadership or anything else that demonstrates a willingness and ability to make our place that bit greener.

Holding these Awards is important because not only does it recognise people for work that otherwise often goes unnoticed, but it also raises the profile of sustainability activities in our community and demonstrates just how much of this great work is happening here. The winners will be selected by an independent judging panel made up of sustainability professionals outside of the university, and a representative from the UCSA.

Nominate a mate or a staff member

Know someone at UC doing great things for sustainability? Nominate them for a Sustainability Award. Feel free to nominate more than one person. This can be:

  • Student or staff research projects?
  • Resource efficiency initiatives?
  • Community involvement?
  • Other initiatives?

Nominations are open from 1 August – 31 August.  Download the nomination form here.

Awards ceremony

The awards ceremony is held at the conclusion of our annual UC Eco Week on Friday 23 September 2016, from 5.30pm – 6.30pm in Undercroft 101. The Awards will be presented by the UCSA President James Addington.

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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