'Green fingered' students get digging in new campus kitchen garden

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A group of 'green fingered' students have begun planting a new campus kitchen garden as part of a scheme to enable them to grow their own seasonal fruit and veg.

A group of 'green fingered' students have begun planting a new campus kitchen garden as
part of a scheme to enable them to grow their own seasonal fruit and veg.

Twenty four plots have been created at Oxford Brookes' Wheatley campus, funded by the university's catering provider, Chartwells. Students and staff have been able to sign up for the plots for a small annual fee of £5.

As part of the project, the university is also planning to sponsor the development of a kitchen garden in Africa through the charity, One Foundation.

A competition will also be held next year to judge the Best Brookes Vegetable Plot and the winner will get the chance to visit Africa to help set up the scheme.

The new campus kitchen garden will be officially opened on Thursday 11 November at 2pm. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janet Beer, will be joined by guests including the Head Gardener at
Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Anne Marie Owens, and some of the students and staff who are involved.

Phillipa Fletcher has led on the project on behalf of Brookes. She said: 'This project is an exciting addition to Oxford Brookes' sustainability programme encompassing the values of fresh, seasonal and local produce, grown in an environmentally sustainable way.

'We are delighted to be able to provide the chance for students and staff to be involved in the burgeoning 'grow-your-own' movement. It has also given us the opportunity to further support the One Foundation and the positive work that they do with some of the poorest communities in Africa.'

Catherine Fleming, Catering Manager for Chartwells said: 'Oxford Brookes is well known for its work on sustainability and we are committed to supporting the university in this area. We have already made great progress in raising awareness of the importance of sustainable sourcing and across the campus there is now a genuine interest in food provenance. The creation of the kitchen garden will increase interest levels further as people gain hands on-experience about the benefits of growing and eating local produce.'

Student, James Green, has recently launched the Slow Food Oxford Brookes group which has signed up for two plots. He said: 'I am delighted that we are able to be part of the kitchen garden project at Wheatley. We only started out this year so it's fantastic to be involved in such a worthwhile project.

'We want to split our two plots into four beds to allow for crop rotation year on year. To begin with, we plan to grow some winter vegetables so that the students who volunteer can enjoy the fruits of their labour sooner rather than later. We're also planning to plant some early spring beans, garlic and onions. We're trying to keep it simple at first - it's going to be a huge learning experience for all of us.'

Soil for the kitchen garden will be mixed with GroChar, a biochar-based peat free soil improver provided by Carbon Gold. This will improve the fertility of the soil while making a long term reduction to the carbon footprint of student gardeners.