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.
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.
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.
VCUC is the University of Canterbury’s vege club. VCUC is a student club for people interested in animal rights, environmentalism, and plant-based diets. They discuss the importance of adopting a less meat- and dairy-based diet – and how to make that shift! By VCUC.
CO2 output of animal agriculture is massive
After reading an article by The Guardian shared by the UC Sustainability Community, about reducing the consumption of animal products to help save the world from climate change, we got quite excited because VCUC is all about eating more plant-based.
There is some debate about the exact numbers of greenhouse gases produced by the animal agriculture industry. However, animal agriculture is still a bigger contributor than any other human related activity, including all forms of transport (planes, container ships etc.). We also cannot forget it is the biggest use of fresh water and land, creates the most waste, deforestation and extinction than any other human activity.
Small steps, big effects
How can you help? Often environmental problems are posed to us as something too big or complex for you to make a change. But there are many small choices made every day that can make a difference. VCUC has some helpful tips.
Many members of VCUC live and thrive off a plant-based diet. Many plant-based diets consist of staples such as fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. Many find the thought to change to a plant-based diet overwhelming to do overnight and that is normal. A long term method is to slowly reduce your consumption of animal products while simultaneously increasing the number of plant-based foods. For example, swapping meat for beans, in say nachos is an easy option. (Check out this great wee video for a quick nutritional comparison of meat vs. beans!) Other people adopt a plant-based day once a week or incorporate one plant-based meal a day. Try what works for you and remember every plant-based meal is a great achievement and it is never too late to start.
Cheap and easy
A lot of plant-based foods are the cheapest a student can buy in New Zealand. Buying grains (e.g. oats, rice), long shelve life starches (e.g. potatoes, kumara etc.) and legumes can be very cheap. You can buy them bulk and in their dried form (for legumes) for a much cheaper deal. We all know that fruits and vegetables are the healthiest food for us to consume and there are a number of ways to get them cheap:
Buy seasonal and ask the shops if they do deals on bulk buys
Do not forget the frozen section for bags of fruit and vegetables
Explore the weekend markets (Riccarton, Opawa, Lyttelton, ect.)
Check out vege box schemes in Christchurch (just google it for options). Sharing it with your flatmates makes this a cheap option
Many fruits and vegetables can be frozen if you have surplus and can’t eat them all before they go off
Fruit can be foraged for free, keep your eyes out for trees around the city to pick from. (Make sure you are allowed to do so.)
There are also co-ops where you pay a set price for a box of fruit and vegetables, that often gets delivered. Check out vege box schemes in Christchurch (just google it for options). Sharing it with your flatmates makes this a cheap option. Salt and Light is the University one.
And finally, the least environmentally detrimental way is to grow your own. You will be amazed at how much you can grow in a small space, plus you could sell or trade the excess! Get in contact with UC Kakariki for some tips.
A plant-based recipe: Easy bean fajitas
1 can No Fat Refried Beans
1 can Low Sodium Pinto Beans
¼ cup Salsa
1 Onion, sliced into strips
1 Bell Pepper, sliced into strips or other vegetables of your choice
2 teaspoons Fajita Spice Mix (below)
Fajita Spice Mix
1 tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Drain and rinse the pinto beans.
Add salsa and refried beans and simmer until warm.
Whisk all Spice Mix ingredients in a small bowl.
Stir-fry onion, pepper (vegetables), and 2 tsp of Spice Mix in water
Continue stir-frying until liquid evaporates and veggies begin to brown
Assemble fajitas by placing beans in center of tortilla.