Sustainability celebrations at Kent Community Oasis Garden

Last week, sustainability champions from across the University celebrated the first year anniversary of the FutureProof project at a garden party held at the Kent Community Oasis Garden.

FutureProof is the University of Kent’s response to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provides a framework, challenging and supporting each University department to review their impacts against the SDGs and working to create positive change.

FutureProof, which launched in June 2018, aims to inspire individuals, departments and the whole University community to take action in ensuring that our estate, our curriculum and our students are ready for the future.

The Sustainability Champions are key to the project’s success as they act as catalysts for change in their departments and conduits for sustainability information across the University. As part of their role as champions they lead on their own projects and the celebration event was the sustainability’s team way of saying thank you to them for all their hard work.

The event highlighted case studies from the year, which can be read in full in the Futureproof report

Projects have included a tripling of recycling rates in Biosciences, education for sustainable development projects at the Business School and a wellbeing project at the Medway campus.

To celebrate, the sun came out for a delicious vegan BBQ prepared by chef Ben Elsbury (from Kent Hospitality), games with prizes to be won, and a refreshing mocktail bar with fresh herbs from the garden.

In its first year FutureProof has held 6 workshops at both the Canterbury and Medway campuses with an overall attendance across them of 124, recruited 65 sustainability champions from 43 different departments, and supported 20 sustainability projects from across the University.

For more information about FutureProof please visit www.kent.ac.uk/sustainability or email sustainability@kent.ac.uk

July Update!

Environmental Audit and Awards Assessment With University of Kent and Canterbury in Bloom    

Kent Community Oasis Garden welcomes Beth our new Volunteer Environmental Champion Intern from the University of Kent who is looking at our environmental impact and sustainability at our new community garden.  We have also been assessed by Canterbury in Bloom for an award and one of our areas for improvement is to increase the habitat for birds, bees and bats.  With this in mind, Ed our Horticulture Apprentice, Matt our Volunteer Gardener and Hannah our Wellbeing Volunteer, worked with her as team to create a risk assessment, obtain tools and reused unwanted natural materials found around the site to create a beautiful bug hotel.

The garden is accessible to anyone, all year round, with sessions for training and support by DBS checked Safeguarding Officers and First Aiders on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 to 14:00. It is now providing produce to harvest, wellbeing sessions, Level 1 Horticulture Traineeships, Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeships and work experience with practical skills for students, volunteers and unemployed adults.  We support approximately 12 people per session, from 18-100 years, with retired volunteers mentoring and supporting younger volunteers.

Our plans for later this year are to build an outdoor classroom, create a sensory garden and plant daffodils with Canterbury In Bloom volunteers. Come along on anyWednesday 10 – 2pm where you can meet us, see the garden and find out more about how you can help or join the project with your time, knowledge, plants, donations or sponsor our work.

One Year On

An update from KET

We have expanded our garden and practical skills provision at Herne Bay and Canterbury during the last 12 months to enable our beneficiaries to walk or cycle to our services which are now open 4 days a week with thanks to donations, sponsorship and funding.

During the year from April 2018 to March 2019 we supported 57 people, 27 of whom were longstanding volunteers who may be retired or long-term unemployed, 18 were new learners who are not in employment, training or education and 13 were students from Kent University seeking work experience, employability points or fresh air and wellbeing.

Both sites are kindly let to us on a peppercorn rent to engage the community in sustainable organic food growing with demonstrations on tool maintenance and repairs in an inclusive space that is accessible to all by providing the following benefits:

  • A safe environment for vulnerable and potentially vulnerable people.
  • Training and advice from horticulturalists and experienced gardeners.
  • Provision of skill and knowledge that will support into gainful employment.
  • A site to be used by the community for gardening projects.
  • A venue that promotes healthy living, eating and wellbeing.

We extended our outdoor service provision as follows:

  • Allotment Gardening at Herne Bay funded by Henry Smith
  • Grow Wild at Herne Bay funded by Greggs
  • Allotment Gardening at KentCOG funded by Big Lottery
  • Community Kitchen at KentCOG funded by West Kent Housing
  • Wellbeing Wednesdays at KentCOG funded by University of Kent
  • Level 1 Horticulture Traineeships at KentCOG funded by Groundworks
  • Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeships at KentCOG funded by Colyer-Fergusson
  • Plant Stall and Tuck Shop to provide retail and cash handling experience at Herne Bay and KentCOG

Growing skills, knowledge and plants – June update

Update from KET

KentCOG Community Oasis Garden is growing from strength to strength.  A few weeks ago Kent Enterprise Trust celebrated a year working at the site, restoring it to its former glory.  It is now providing produce to harvest, wellbeing sessions, Level 1 Horticulture Traineeships, Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeships and work experience with practical skills for students, volunteers and unemployed adults.

The garden is accessible to anyone, all year round, with sessions for training and support by DBS checked Safeguarding Officers and First Aiders on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 to 14:00.  We support approximately 12 people per session, from 18-100 years, with retired volunteers mentoring and supporting younger volunteers. Kent Enterprise Trust is a well-established registered charity based in Herne Bay, recognized for changing people’s lives by supporting them with training and mentoring to be able to make a return to part-time or full-time employment.

Our plans for later this year are to build an outdoor classroom, create a sensory garden and plant daffodils with Canterbury In Bloom volunteers, we also have an open day on Wednesday 17 July at Midday where you can meet us, see the garden and find out more about how you can help or join the project with your time, knowledge, plants or donations.

We welcome anyone who is out of work and is interested in volunteering for the first time and willing to learn new skills and gain some work experience or train in horticulture. If you are retired or semi-retired and are free on a Tuesday or Wednesday, want to get fit, make some new friends in a friendly relaxed social environment, gain new experiences or just exchange your gardening knowledge come and join in.

With huge thanks to our training providers and funders, The University of Kent, Big Lottery, Henry Smith, Colyer-Fergusson, Tesco and Earnest Cook. For helping us make this community project the success it is.

Welcome to our new Project and Fundraising Manager

Blog by Abbie Kay, Project and Fundraising Manager COG


Week four at COG for me and I am pleased to say the Community Oasis Gardens are already my happy place.

The role appealed to me in so many ways, predominately to feel like I am making a difference to others, whilst knowing that working outdoors and physical activity makes me feel so much happier too.

Tranquillity, warm welcomes, such promise of growth not only for our harvest but our community too. Beneficiaries, students, volunteers and employees working alongside each other with tasks and pace’s to suit everyone’s needs.

Smelling the freshly cut grass whilst clearing brambles from an area destined to be a relaxation space for the wellbeing of our community, with bespoke tyre seating in the shade, the smell of fresh herbs surrounding you whilst listening to the birds sing and the bees buzz.

Sugar snap peas, lettuce, tomatoes, marigolds and the promise of a pumpkin competition later in the year. The garden’s are an escape from life’s hustle and bustle, stresses and strains, whilst offering many beneficiaries new life skills, confidence, socialisation and to aim for the end goal of employment.

I am now putting the wheels in motion to carry out my promise to KET, I will complete a Fundraising Sky Dive with the hope of beating my fear of flying and assist these beautiful gardens in remaining a hub for our community to grow alongside the seeds that they sow. The dive will be funded by myself which means every penny raised will go directly to our garden, watch this space for my sponsorship details. I need you all to be behind me on this – I can’t believe I’m going to jump out of a plane!

We are desperate for soil for planting at the moment, without soil we are unable to grow plants to sell on which sustains this amazing place for our community, please do let me know if anyone has any ideas on discounted or free soil.

KentCOG celebrates ‘Friendsgiving’ on the 21st November

Join the community and celebrate a classic American holiday by gathering as friends to share thanks and giving with seasonal beverages and snacks!

Date: November 21st

Time: 12 noon

Location: Kent COG’s Potting Shed & Garden – Find us here

 

No reservations required, but contributions via donations to the space or autumn treats for the event are always appreciated!

First timer? – Come and learn about ways to get involved!

Organized by American students at the University of Kent

The official launch of the KentCOG project

Original post from the the University of Kent News Centre written by Dan Worth.

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A new community garden has opened on the Canterbury campus that is designed to become an outdoor space for staff, students and members of the local community to use for a range of activities.

The Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG) is being developed by the University’s Student Wellbeing and Estates teams in partnership with local charity Kent Enterprise Trust (KET). It is designed to be a collaborative space that anyone can get involved in, whether as an area to unwind and relax or to learn new skills, which is a key focus for KET and its volunteers.

To this end, the garden will provide the opportunity to take part in numerous seasonal initiatives, including growing plants, wildflowers and vegetables, as well as other related activities. The garden is located along the Crab and Winkle pathway to the far east of the Canterbury Campus past the Parkwood accommodation.

The garden is also benefiting in its design from input by Gardeners’ World expert Mark Lane, who lives locally and has provided his services free of charge. In particular, Mark is focusing on the accessibility of the space so that it will be available for as many people as possible to use in the future.

Kent Oasis Garden plaque

Richard Cottam, Head of Facilities Management in the University’s Estates Department, said: ‘The Kent Community Oasis Garden will provide a fun, engaging and educational space for anyone who wants to get involved and we are proud to be able to host it at the University. All are welcome and we hope as many people as possible will take part. We have big plans for the garden in the years ahead and are grateful to everyone who has helped out so far.’

Other organisations taking an active involvement in the garden are the Whitstable and Herne Bay Beekeepers group, as well as Kent Union and its student-run Gardening and Foraging Society.

More information on the garden can be found at the Kent Community Oasis Garden website. Plants have been donated to the garden by the Canterbury Chartham Wyevale Garden Centre and Vincent Nurseries in Herne Bay.

The launch of the garden also fits in with several of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals that the University has pledged to follow.