African charity opportunity awarded in Oxford Brookes kitchen garden competition

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Anne-Marie Owens, the Head Gardner for Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons hotel and restaurant, yesterday (Tuesday 21 June) chose a winner in the Best Brookes Vegetable Plot competition as part of the university's successful kitchen garden scheme.

Anne-Marie Owens, the Head Gardner for Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons hotel and restaurant, chose a winner in the Best Brookes Vegetable Plot competition as part of the University's successful kitchen garden scheme.

The winner of the competition was Oxford Brookes student Ben Wilkins who has been given a life-changing opportunity to implement a similar scheme in Africa. Ben will be travelling to Malawi to help set up a kitchen garden for a scheme being sponsored by Oxford Brookes through the charity One Foundation. This kitchen garden will be created on the site of a school-based PlayPump water system which was also introduced through the support of Oxford Brookes.

Ben, who starts the third year of his Master of Osteopathy degree course next semester, explained why he took on the allotment at Wheatley: "I wanted to learn how to grow vegetables and live sustainably. The best bit is having fresh herbs to use in cooking, although the worst bit is cycling seven miles each way from Oxford! The trip to Malawi is a great chance to learn about gardening in another continent."

As part of the scheme which began in November 2010, twenty four kitchen garden plots producing seasonal fruit and vegetables were created at Oxford Brookes' Wheatley campus. The project was funded by the university's catering provider Chartwells and students and staff were given the opportunity to sign up for the plots for a small annual fee of £5.

Phillipa Fletcher, Conference and Commercial Services Manager for Brookes, who has led on the project for the university said:

'We are delighted to be working with the One Foundation and the excellent work they do in supporting some of the poorest communities in Africa. It will be a fantastic experience for Ben as the winner of the best plot to be able to deliver the benefits of self-grown produce to some of the world's poorest communities where it is needed most. Oxford Brookes has a strong commitment towards increasing the positive impact on our environments and communities. The Campus Kitchen Garden project is a further example of Oxford Brookes supporting local sustainability as well as our wider community, and I am delighted that it has been such a great success.'

Catherine Fleming, General Manager for Chartwells said "The enthusiasm from the students about the development of the Campus Kitchen Garden has been fantastic and I am thrilled that they have managed to do so much with their plots in such a short space of time. It has been great for Chartwells to work with the University on such a worthwhile initiative and I am really proud of the results."