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









UC students taking on the Plastic Free July challenge

A group of UC students is so passionate about reducing plastic waste that they are taking on the Plastic Free July challenge. Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems and amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it! You can do the challenge for a day, a week or the whole month. You can try to refuse all single-use plastic or try ‘just’ the top 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.

UC students Juliet, Poppy, Florence, Maddy and Alex are gearing up to refuse all single-use plastic for a month and they’ll be vlogging and intagramming their progress. So keep an eye out for that on Insiders Guide, our Facebook and Instagram. Inspired? Why not get a friend or your flat taking on the challenge too? #ucplasticfreejuly

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


Do you have a great idea for Eco Week 2017?

Some of the events we ran last year.

In September (18-22) the UC Sustainability Office will host UC Eco Week. This yearly festival of events celebrates and promotes everything to do with sustainability. This is a festival that is partly student-run and we would love your input. Are you passionate about making kombucha and want to hold a workshop? Know a great speaker and want to invite them? Love second hand clothes and want to organise a clothes swap? Saw that amazing thought-provoking movie and would like to screen it?

We are looking for students who have great ideas for sustainability-focused events to hold during Eco Week 2017. If you have the passion, we may be able to help you make it come true!

Write down an outline of your idea and send it to Puck at the UC Sustainability Office (puck.algera@canterbury.ac.nz) before the end of May.

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





Eco Club Network established at UC

In late February, the Eco Club Network was established, bringing together various eco clubs on campus including Kakariki, DigSoc, GenZero, CUTC (tramping club), Fossil Free UC, VCUC (Veg Club), SVA, Biosoc, GEOGSOC, Engineers without Borders (EWB) and more.

The aim of the network is to improve coordination between UC’s many eco clubs and events, and ultimately increase the number of people taking part in eco activities. They are also hoping to organise a big eco-event later on in the year (September) – watch this space.

The formation of the network originated from a meeting between George, UCSAs Johnny Duncan and Katie Nimmo (Sustainability Office) in January this year, with the idea to get more collaboration between eco clubs happening. The first ECN meeting was a success, with  close to 20 people attending and UCSA president James Addington stepping in as well. Exciting and important sustainability ideas and concerns were shared (like garden rooftops, reducing foodwaste and plastic pollution, UC building materials, Avon river conservation).

Want to know more? Check out the The Eco Club Network facebook page, or get in touch by email hello@ucecoclubs.nz.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram.




Looking for students to get involved with PARK(ing) day!

We are UC students Anna, Monica and Serena and we are involved   14193874_1215333541844789_2103219263_n with Gap Filler’s PARK(ing) day project.

On the 16th of September (10am – 2 pm) we will be taking over some parking spaces in the Foundry carpark at the University of Canterbury and transforming them into fun, innovative spaces for UC students to enjoy. We are keen to get the student community involved with this event, whether you create your own space or simply come along to see the spaces we create. We are doing this project through our Management course MGMT208 which involves service learning, this means that we apply theory learnt in class to carry out our practical community based project.

PARK(ing) day

PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. We are working with the Christchurch-based community organisation Gap Filler to do this project. With PARK(ing) day Gap Filler aims to promote awareness about the way public spaces are uparking-day_conegliano_2014sed and bring the community together. Gap Filler came about after the Christchurch earthquakes with the purpose to regenerate the city and allow people in the community to have a voice.

PARK(ing) day was invented by the Rebar group in 2005 where they converted a metered parking spot into a temporary public space in San Francisco. The Rebar group sets out to imagine opportunities to redefine and re-imagine the world around us and our relationships with our fellow human beings. Our project involves participating with other organisations involved in the international (PARK)ing day event.

Getting students involved!

We are hoping that this project will get students to think about becoming involved in the community and the use of public spaces in Christchurch. We are excited to be creating a fun event for people to enjoy, whilst also raising awareness about Gap Filler and all the great work they do in the community. We are keen to get students involved with this event, through creating their own spaces at the University Campus or elsewhere in Christchurch, or by simply coming along to see the spaces we create.

If you are interested in getting involved or have some superb ideas please contact us for more information and assistance. Email us at akm98@uclive.ac.nz. 14137702_1215333195178157_536825542_n

More information

Check out the Park(ing) Day Christchurch Facebook page for more details as well as the PARK(ing) day rules and regulations. OPSOC will also be joining us in creating a fun public space for you to enjoy. We would love to see you at Park(ing) Day on Friday the 16th of September between 10am-2pm at the Foundry Carpark.

New UCSA exec Johnny Duncan keen on sustainability

Johnny Duncan (3rd year BCom) has been newly elected into the UCSA General Executive for 2016. He will be heading up the Post Graduate portfolio but he also has a strong interest in sustainability issues. We had a quick chat to him about his aspirations … DUNCAN 1

Congratulations, Johnny! So … what got you interested in sustainability and what does it mean to you? Well, I grew up in Asia, I spent 3 years in Manila (Philippines), and 3 years in Seoul (South Korea), as well as various other places. And I could not get over the pollution in those two countries. In the Philippines it was the rubbish, it was everywhere, I’ve seen beaches where you can’t see the water. South Korea was different, Seoul was a bit cleaner than the Philippines, but the pollution there was still horrendous. Growing up in these places and coming home to New Zealand and seeing the polar opposite here has made me passionate about preserving what our country has, as well as playing our part as global citizens to help others.

Sustainability to me means preparing for future, if we want to ‘sustain’ and last we must prepare accordingly. In this case it means looking after our environment, cutting down our CO2 emissions and renewing/rationing our resources.

What are your aspirations for your time as an exec? I want students at UC to have the opportunity to enjoy their time at UC as much as I have enjoyed mine. But also I want to give students the opportunity to make a difference.

Have you had a thought about what sustainability issues (or initiatives) you would like to address (or promote) on campus? Paper wastage is a huge issue on campus, if there would be a way to encourage people to recycle or reuse their paper that would be great. I also want to tie in sustainability initiatives with clubs as I believe this a great way to get more students on campus involved.

What are your sustainability-related aspirations for the student union? For starters I’d like to try reduce the carbon emissions of the UCSA, this is quite a broad goal but I will try to find a way to accomplish this. Secondly I’d like to get some carbon neutral paper into circulation around campus, currently the library doesn’t use carbon neutral paper so I want to talk to them to see what I can do about getting this changed. I am open to more ideas on how to make the UCSA a bit more eco friendly.

A few years back, the UCSA had a sustainability portfolio that they were working on, have you had a look at that? It is quite difficult to find information on where they got to with the sustainability portfolio, which will require some more investigation. What I have managed to get my hands on is the UCSA’s sustainability policy, which is quite an interesting document that could use some more publicity.

You have been aJohnny Duncan OpSoc BBQ #1 2015ctively involved in OpSoc, one of the newest eco clubs on campus, what was your role there and what are you taking away from that experience sustainability-wise? Last year I was social representative for OpSoc, and this year I was the president. So I’ve gone from helping out with a bit of everything and doing a lot of promo to running the entire show. It was a big step up in responsibility but I loved every second of it. Sustainability- wise I just think that big clubs can make more of difference as at the moment a lot of small clubs pick up the workload.

Do you see a role for UC clubs in contributing to UCs sustainability journey? Absolutely, I think clubs have the biggest pull in terms of getting people together and enthused about a project or event, so using the clubs we can hopefully get more people involved in sustainability projects and practices through their member bases.

We’re here to support you if we can! Is there any way in which the Sustainability Office can support you in achieving your goals? I’m open to all ideas on ways to cut down the UCSA’S CO2 emissions so if you have any creative ways to do this then please let me know!

Thanks Johnny, we wish you all the very best in your endeavours and look forward to working with you in 2016.

Interested in a UC club with a sustainability focus? Check out some ideas here.


UCs Bridget explores eco-activism at universities worldwide

There’s a bunch of great research happening at UC, but we get particularly excited when it is eco or sustainability related. We recently had a chat with UC student Bridget Snodgrass, whose research is exploring campus eco-activism at universities worldwide.

What are you qualifying in at UC? I’m in my last year of a double degree, a BSc majoring in Geology and endorsed in Environmental Science, and BA majoring in Mathematics and minoring in Russian. It’s my 5th year but I’m finishing up 3rd year courses at the moment. This research is being conducted as my project for the ARTS395 internship.

What are you researching and why? My project is looking at a number of universities worldwide, which have student organisations that are doing cool and interesting things with environmental activism. I was put in touch with Katie Nimmo (from the Sustainability Office). She had a project on campus eco activism in mind that could marry my interests with hers.

Which universities are you looking at? I only got a semester to do it, so I picked a few “western” universities with active, thriving student eco-activism scenes. University of Alberta in Canada, University of Massachusetts in USA, Newcastle University in Australia, University of Victoria for another New Zealand perspective, and I’m currently deciding on a UK one as well. I also looked at whether they had any relevant local environmental issues that might stimulate activism, to try and get insight into what local environments and social factors may result in successful, active clubs.

Even though you have just started data collection, what are you finding? So far I’m finding that the activism groups that are doing well are those that have managed to make people care – by building that personal connection to the issue they are fighting for. The reality of environmental issues is that everyone has a stake in them, everyone is tangibly affected, unlike other kinds of activism (like a petition to not let Chris Brown into Australia). So establishing that personal connection to the issue through actual people in the club, and arousing and directing their emotions, which mobilises people towards a solution, is what clubs that are doing well are good at.

I also find that universities with relatively notorious or controversial issues in their local environment tend to have environmental groups addressing that, either from an awareness raising perspective or a more practical go-get-em approach. For example, the University of Massachusetts has been really productive: remediating barren, eroding patches of land by replanting it with ecologically diverse permaculture gardens.

UMass’ permaculture project partly inspired this research. It’s such a well organised and designed project, that’s a win for everyone: it’s accessible to loads of students who get plant growing skills, the university’s dining service gets (actually tonnes of) produce, the land gets enriched, and the uni looks really good being this bastion of sustainability innovation. And students did it!

Why is activism so important do you think? From a personal development perspective, I think it’s important to not always go through life on autopilot, and to push back and try to make a positive change, which is usually quite difficult. When it’s a societal change even more so. It’s really important to look beyond yourself and meeting your immediate wants and needs, and think about what you can do make the world better for everyone. How can you inspire people and combine your forces to make big stuff happen. Activism is definitely one of those “the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts” things.

Could some of your findings inform how things are done at UC?
I hope so! In the past few years a bunch of eco clubs have sprung up at UC and they are achieving some great things. It’ll be awesome to see what can be learnt from clubs at other universities about what they do, how they do it, and what are some of the driving and enabling factors behind their activities, in order to see if it’s something that could be implemented at UC.

There’s heaps of activities that probably aren’t realistic for UC at the moment for a bunch of reasons, some we have some influence over, like the extent to which our students care about the environment and want to make a difference, and some we don’t. A lot of the clubs I’ve looked at just have really awesome funding/financial capacity to do stuff. I think there’s still value though, in learning about things that won’t work and why, because circumstances can change.

Is the research affecting how you are thinking about your career choices?
A little! If anything it’s kind of opened my mind to all these other things that are actually viable to spend your life doing. Like, many of the universities I’m studying have dedicated staff helping the clubs achieving their goals. I’m attracted to the idea of such teaching/mentoring roles – though I think I’ve got a lot more learning to do before I get there!

Check here for more about how to get involved with Sustainability at UC.