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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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!

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!

 

 

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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Jane’s Garden News – October 2014

 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.

Well, ‘t is the season to be busy! And that we are …Seeds have been sown for the summer crops of tomatoes, cucumber and zucchini as well as carrots, beetroot, parsnip, leek, brassicas, greens, herbs and flowers. Meanwhile we are harvesting greens, leek, parsnip, cauliflower and asparagus …. Other activities at Okeover garden include keeping the beds weeded, liquid feeding plants with worm juice and preparing beds for more sowing/planting.

Over at Dovedale things are starting to pick up for the growing season after looking quite unkempt for most of the year. With the help of Deans Rovers we were able to prepare a few beds and clear pathways. Thanks Rovers! We then held a Friday working bee to plant potatoes (Jersey Bennes for earlies and Chipewa as mains). Once the frost danger has passed (end of the month) we will sow sweet corn, YUM! The trialing of allotment style community gardening has begun with 5 gardeners taking up beds as well as the Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery School. If you want to be part of the action as an experienced gardener or a complete beginner wanting to pick up some skills, be sure to join us for a Garden Bee any Friday from 1-5pm.

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

Until next time!

UC’s first Student Food Forum – Eco Week event 2014

Last month, as part of Ecoweek 2014, the Food Resilience Network, the Sustainability office and UC Kakariki co-hosted UC’s first Student Food Forum! The purpose of the forum was to get students’ views on accessibility to healthy and affordable food. In addition, it was a chance for students to share their ideas on how a stronger food system can be created on campus as well as in wider Christchurch.

Participants in the forum heard some fantastic speakers: Christchurch City Councillor Pauline Cotter shared her experiences with food accessibility in Christchurch, and provided information on the forthcoming food resilience policy and action plan for the city. Brian Rick, the food resilience project coordinator for project Lyttelton, made students think about how food resilient they actually are – especially after having been through the Christchurch earthquakes. UCSA president Sarah Platt brought a student perspective. She spoke about how students often don’t think about the food they eat when they come to university and that living in a flat can see many opting for bulk meals without taking into account vital dietary needs. All three speakers provided great insights and ideas about food resilience at UC and in Christchurch and gave those attending a lot to think about.

Students were also given the chance to share their ideas on cards and the response was fantastic. Many respondents wanted cheaper food options, healthier choices on campus and a chance to learn more about growing their own food and eating locally. Having markets and fruit trees on campus were also popular suggestions for both the UC campus and wider Christchurch.

These student responses also informed an online Student Food Survey about the cost of, and accessibility to, nourishing food for students. This survey ran over the last month and will help to further inform the Food Resilience Network and the University on what students and wider Christchurch need in regards to a stronger food system and how these changes can be implemented. The responses will also be considered for the forthcoming food resilience policy and action plan for the city.

Thanks to Kate Walsh for reporting on the Student Food Forum.

Christchurch City Councillor Pauline Cotter speaking about the council's forthcoming Food Resilience Policy and Action Plan
Christchurch City Councillor Pauline Cotter speaking about the council’s forthcoming Food Resilience Policy and Action Plan
Matt Morris from the Sustainability Office and the Food Resilience Network chatting to students.
Matt Morris from the Sustainability Office and the Food Resilience Network chatting to students.
Rosalee attaching her ideas to the ideas tree!
Rosalee attaching her ideas to the ideas tree!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UC Kakariki supplied free soup for the event. Joe, Matthew and Michael are hard at work feeding all of the hungry students.
UC Kakariki supplied free soup for the event. Joe, Matthew and Michael are hard at work feeding all of the hungry students.
The idea tree - full of students' ideas for a stronger food system for students and views on food resilience.
The idea tree – full of students’ ideas for a stronger food system for students and views on food resilience.

Food Foraging at UC – Eco Week event 2014

For the first time, Jane and Matt from the Sustainability Office, ran an Edible Campus Tour around the UC Campus. The tour saw roughly 40 people visiting food plants around the campus. It was a great opportunity to share interesting facts about the ancient origins of these plants and modern uses of them, whilst raising awareness that they are for free harvesting!

Highlights were visiting an old Ginkgo Biloba tree and a nut producing pine tree. Also worth noting are the trial plantings of the Grounds Department which include lemons, limes, pears and Chilean guava. The word is that they are well browsed … enough to be sure that if similar plantings were established the food would not be wasted. The tour made its way to the Okeover community garden where the pizza oven was ready to go and everyone enjoyed crisp pizza, lemon water and fresh pine nuts.

The lovely Matt Morris from the Sustainability Office
The lovely Matt Morris from the Sustainability Office
Some of the tour participants
Some of the tour participants
Preparing pizza together
Nothing like preparing pizza together
Timm Treskatis, the president of DigSoc, attending as well.
Timm Treskatis, the president of DigSoc, attending as well.
Fresh ingredients ...
Fresh ingredients … ready to go into the community garden pizza oven.

 

 

Those who forage together, eat together :-)
Those who forage together, eat together 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lovely map was produced for this event which is available here or the Okeover Community Garden.

ENGS3669_Edible_campus_map