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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O Week 2015

Great crew helping out with the Sustainability Office stall during O day
Great crew helping out with the Sustainability Office stall during O day

It is always such a pleasure to see campus light up with new UC students at the beginning of the year. The Sustainability Office always hosts a stall at International Welcome Day and O Day, and this year we introduced a new initiative called the UC Green Team, where volunteers sign up to help with campus-based sustainability projects as they arise. Over 60 students joined up!

Ploy and Donna Lusby, who helped out on the stall as part of the Green Team, doing a wonderful job of chatting to students.
Ploy and Donna Lusby, who helped out on the stall as part of the Green Team, doing a wonderful job of chatting to students.

We also gave away an Eco prize pack, featuring donations from Eco-Tanka (water bottle) and 4MyEarth (sandwich wrap).

Peter Prize Winner
Peter Prize Winner

Thanks so much to Victora Faalilo, Katie Collier, Michael Galloway, Michael Perry, Alex McNeill, George Moon, Donna Lusby, and Ploy Kitisopakul for helping out at our O week stalls. Michael Perry also painted our green “Eco Club” cones in preparation of UCSA Clubs day.

If you would like to join the Green Team, please contact katie.nimmo@canterbury.ac.nz or call 364 2025. To subscribe to our Green Team list go to http://www.sustain.canterbury.ac.nz/joincommunityform.shtml , and select UC Green Team. We will contact you about other volunteering opportunities.

Curious about Eco clubs? Check it out here http://www.sustain.canterbury.ac.nz/people/clubs.shtml

Anthea Fiolitakis, winner of our Eco prize pack
Anthea Fiolitakis, winner of our Eco prize pack
These two angels fluttered down out of the blue to sign up to the Green Team...... look at those smiles!
These two angels fluttered down out of the blue to sign up to the Green Team…… look at those smiles!
Some of the eye-watering goodness harvested from Okeover Community as part of our Eco Prize pack
Some of the eye-watering goodness harvested from Okeover Community as part of our Eco Prize pack

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.

Composting Coffee Cups Trial: Chicken Carcasses and Coffee Cups

The Sustainability Office is always looking for new solutions to waste issues and has recently trialled Selwyn District Council’s “HotRot unit” to see if single-use coffee cups can be composted in this unit and it seems like they can!

How does the composting work? The cups are put into a pit and processed through a mechanical composting unit – The HotRot – which is an enclosed vessel with an auger. The cycle is 14 days and during this time the population of microbes escalates because they have so much food (not just the coffee cups but also chicken carcasses, YUM). All this activity raises the heat and accelerates the composting. At the other end brown composting material emerges, which can be used as garden compost!

Collecting the cups
Collecting the cups
Checking the contents
Checking the bin content

Further testing was needed however, which is now underway. From September until November we are trialling a separate single-use cup collection system in the Undercroft and Café 101, so we are now two-thirds of the way through.

So far the trial has been a success. We have been looking at these things:

  • What is the level of contamination in the blue hooded bins? In other words, is there anything else in there apart from single-use cups?
  • Are people using the bins?
  • How interested is the UC community in the bins?

We have found that there has been a low level of contamination, although in one area (the Undercroft), contamination is higher with some people not taking the lids off. Overall the bins are getting a good level of use, and we have already diverted over 2000 litres (by volume) of waste from landfill. This tells us that expanding the trial in 2015 would have a significant positive environmental impact!! We have also found that the UC community has been very enthusiastic about the blue bins and us taking positive action on coffee cups on campus, a bugbear for a number of years. Yay!

We will be doing a proper analysis in November when the trial ends. If all is good, we will be expanding the number of blue bins in 2015, and getting ready for a more significant change in how we do recycling in 2016.

Into the HotRot!
Into the HotRot!
Checking the resulting compost
Checking the resulting compost

The blue bins finally make it possible for us to switch our cafes over to biodegradable packaging, which we anticipate happening in 2015 – if all goes well with this trial and the contamination remains low!!

So please note: these collection points are for empty cups only!! No pie wrappers or lids! Look out for the blue hooded bins and help us make the trial a success.

coffee cup trial bin and poster undercroft

Making the transition to re-usable cups at UC

As you probably know by now, single-use coffee cups cannot be recycled anymore, only the lids. Last month, as part of our campaign to reduce the use of single-use takeaway cups and to bring attention to correct recycling practices, the Sustainability Office ran a stall in the Undercroft. We offered reusable cups for just $5 and sold more than 70 over the three days we ran the stall. This surpassed our expectations! Many people seem to be keen on making a difference by reducing the amount of waste they create.

If you missed out on purchasing a reusable cup, you can still buy them from the Sustainability Office for just $5. Contact Katie.nimmo@canterbury.ac.nz for more details, and for information on UCs recycling practices, have a look here.

We also conducted a small scale audit of a landfill and recycling bin station, and found that in the main the campus community is doing a great job of placing single-use takeaway cups in the landfill bin. However, the majority of these cups still had plastic lids on them and these lids can still be recycled. Approximately a quarter of a million single-use takeaway cups are sold on campus every year – that’s a lot of recyclable plastic that can be diverted from the landfill. So if you do purchase single-use takeaway cups, take a moment to separate the lid from the cup, and put the lid in the recycling bin and the cup in the landfill bin.

Did you know ….

  • The length of 250 000 single use cups placed end on end is 30 km, which is the equivalent of walking around Hagley Park six times!
  • Campus cafes offer a discount every time you bring in your reusable cup? You can earn your cup back in no time
  • Reusable cups can be washed and dried in the heat-and-eat areas around campus, look for the (HE) sign on the map below. As more buildings open, more heat-and-eat areas will open on campus, making it even easier for you to keep your cup clean!

Heat and Eat areas at UC

Fair trade and UC

Fair Trade Fortnight, which began early May, is an annual, nationwide celebration of all things Fair Trade and the difference that choosing Fair Trade makes for millions in developing countries.

During the second and third weeks of May, both the Sustainability Office and Engineers Without Borders (EWB) ran stalls in the Undercroft to raise awareness for Fair Trade prodPrintucts available on campus and in local grocery stores. EWB held Morning Tea for Oxfam every day for a week, handing out hot Fair Trade beverages and treats for donations as well as hosting activities. UC Sustainability offered a variety of Fair Trade sweets for donation and sold reusable coffee cups. Both events were very successful, raising close to $700 for Oxfam and bringing awareness to Fair Trade and what it stands for.

With 2 billion people living on less than $2 a day buying Fairtrade helps create a better life for coffee and cocoa growers, tea pluckers, cotton pickers and banana growers and their families. As well as a guaranteed minimum price, the extra Fairtrade Premium empowers growers to invest in the future for their communities and help themselves out of poverty. Fairtrade is about providing long term job stability, fair working conditions and focuses funds on healthcare, education and other aspects of social development for their communities.

In New Zealand numerous Fair Trade goods are available, such as cotton T-shirts and bags (see for instance Christchurch-based Liminal Apparel), ice cream (see for instance Nice Blocks, YUM!) soft drinks, bananas (see All Good Organics for both soft drinks and bananas), coffee, tea and chocolate.

So to show your support, buy Fair Trade products whenever possible. Fair Trade products are available in cafes on campus as well. Look for the Fair Trade logo!

For more information on fair trade at UC, check out this link. For more information on the fair trade products available in New Zealand or Fair Trade New Zealand and the Fair Trade logo, check here.