Spring Newsletter

Welcome to Spring 2020 at the garden

It has been a long time since our last newsletter, and so much has changed. The KentCOG team wanted to take this opportunity to keep in touch, and update you on the ever evolving community garden.  Although our volunteers are busy gardening at home, and the plot remains closed, our community is still active and happy to support those in need of some green care.

KentCOG have teamed up with East Kent Mind this year to grow the garden as a community base focused on wellbeing, and I have returned after a year away to welcome you to be part of that development.  Please share your stories, growing experiences, and experiments in gardening with us, including photos, recipes and top tips in creating a thriving natural home environment for wellbeing, whatever that may mean to you.  Practicing Ecotherapy at home has helped me stay grounded during times of change, and that’s what I am exploring in more detail over the coming months.

What’s happening this season?

East Kent Mind have provided an array of live workshops, courses and activities accessible on your phone or computer at home. KentCOG are supporting the online digital weekly timetable with a regular slot Grow Your Wellbeing (more details below).

East Kent Mind have also set up a wellbeing support line open Monday-Friday 2pm-5pm, Friday-Sunday 6pm-10pm, if you need to talk please call 0203 912 0032.

 

 https://sharepoint.kent.ac.uk/estates/kentcog/Shared%20Documents/Student%20Engagement/file-20.jpeg

Seasonal jobs

Growing herbs on your windowsill can be very satisfying and family favourite cress is quick to sprout and great to eat with your eggs for breakfast, perfect for beginner gardeners.

  

If you have an outdoor growing space try preparing a meter square bed for companionship planting, a popular combination to grow is squash beside climbing beans supported by corn.

It’s time to harden off your seedlings outside or plant new seeds directly into prepared beds, following packet guidelines.

This season’s events

It was Mental Health Awareness Week last week, so why not check out Grow Your Wellbeing sessions on Zoom with Emily Hill every Wednesday afternoon (2-3pm) with practical advice on trying Ecotherapy at home.

Sign up by visiting eastkentmind.org.uk and complete a registration form online, or email info@eastkentmind.org.uk

When lockdown is lifted, please come to one of our regular KentCOG sessions to find out more:

Every Tuesday 10 – 2pm

(Community Session)

Every Wednesday 10 – 2pm

(East Kent Mind Open Spaces – Student Session)

Looking for something to celebrate? It was World Bee Day on the 19th May, so on the advice of our partners the Whitstable and Herne Bay Beekeepers, I have included some links to find out more about our valuable friends. Did you know there were 271 species of bee in the UK?

https://whitstable-hernebay-beekeepers.org.uk/2019/06/29/how-time-and-bees-flies/
https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bumblebee-species-guide/
https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/blog/ryan-clark/guide-solitary-bees-britain
https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/30dayswild

Please visit https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/kentcog/ for more information about the project or email kentcog@kent.ac.uk if you have any queries or want to join our mailing list.

 Find us here

We will write again when we can reopen the garden , until then take care, and carry on gardening.

Best wishes,

Emily Hill, KentCOG Coordinator

How to make recycled planters from household objects

During any extended periods of time at home, it’s always good to surround yourself with plant life.  A sunflower growing at the bottom of the garden can bring such joy, and nurturing aromatic and tasty herbs on your windowsill can bring even more satisfaction. All you need is a pack of seeds and a handful of compost and off you go! No outside space, or stuck without a pot? Here’s how to convert some household objects into planters without the hassle or expense of visiting the shops.

Newspaper Pots

 You will need:

  • Newspaper
  • Tin can
  • Compost
  • Seeds

Making paper pots out of newspapers is fun and a great way to recycle.  Once the pots are made, you can plant them up and wait for your produce to grow, place the pots directly into the ground without having to disturb your plants. Easy, so lets give it a try.

  • Find an old newspaper and take one sheet out
  • Fold length ways so you have a long strip of newspaper
  • Take a recycled tin can (with lid removed) and place the solid end along the folded edge of the newspaper
  • Wrap the paper loosely around the tin and roll around until you have a tube around the tin
  • Fold one edge of the paper into the hole of the tin
  • Remove the tin from its sleeve
  • Put the tin, flat end first, back into the paper pot and squish the paper flat inside the pot
  • Ta da! Your pot is ready to fill with compost
  • Water your pot, then plant up with seed (sunflowers or beans are good) and cover with a thin layer of compost
  • Water again and place in a warm sunny spot, keep moist
  • When your plants have grown and are ready to plant outside, place the entire pot into the soil, the paper will break down and your plants will grow happily out of the pot

Fabric Tin Can Planters

You will need:

  • Tin cans
  • Hammer & Nail
  • Doubled sided sticky tape
  • Recycled fabric (in strips)
  • Scissors
  • Compost & Seeds (seasonal herbs or bulbs)

Brighten up any windowsill with these easy to make recycled fabric tin planters.  Perfect for growing herbs or spring bulbs in on a budget and great for the environment too.

  • Wash out your used tin cans, remove any paper labels and bang two or three drainage holes in the bottom using a hammer and nail (on a work surface like a chopping board).
  • Cut some old fabric into strips about 2cm thick and long enough to wrap around your tin. They don’t have to be neat.
  • Stick a strip of double sided sticky tape around the tin at the bottom of your tin can, cut to make a sticky ring all around.
  • Add one strip of fabric on top of the tape, cut off any excess fabric so each end meets.
  • Add another layer of sticky tape above your fabric and overlay another strip of fabric in another colour for contrast, trim and make sure you don’t leave a gap between the first and second fabric strip, each strip should overlap the one before.
  • Repeat the process all the way up the tin until you reach the top, trim any excess fabric around the top edge, or fold the fabric over the top if the edge is sharp, being careful to stick it down with a layer of tape first.
  • Add decorations to finish your multi fabric masterpiece! Wrap string around it and tie in a bow, add ribbon or glue on buttons, let your creativity shine.
  • Now your planter is ready to plant; add seed compost to the tin, water, then sprinkle your herb seeds, or plant a Spring bulb following the packet guidelines. Cover with another layer of compost, water again and keep in a warm sunny spot watering regularly. Then see your creation come to life!

Recycled Milk Bottle 5x Ways

You will need:

  • Plastic Milk Bottles (x5)
  • Craft Knife
  • Hammer & Nail (or sharp pointed object like a scewer)
  • Compost
  • Seeds – bird seeds and herb seeds to plant
  • Marker pen
  • Kebab sticks
  • String

Making a new use for any object is fun, but making five uses out of your used plastic milk bottles is incredible!

  1. Bird feeder
  • Draw a large circle on the bottle to make a hole to let birds inside to feed on the seed (at least 2 cm from the bottom)
  • Carefully cut the hole out using a craft knife
  • Screw a smaller hole underneath the big hole
  • Insert a kebab stick into the small hole to act as a perch for the birds to land on
  • Screw a hole through the lid of the bottle, feed an arms length of string through the hole, and tie several knots in the end that screws inside the bottle
  • Loop the other end of string and tie so you have a loop you can hang on a tree branch or hook outside
  • Screw the lid on the bottle
  • Fill the base with birdseed, its ready to go!
  1. Sprinkling watering bottle
  • Remove the lid from your bottle and place over something soft like a cushion, screw side up (to ensure a good flow)
  • With a screw or hammer and nail, make several small holes in the lid for the water to sprinkle out
  • Fill the bottle with water
  • Screw the lid back on and you have a practical sprinkling watering bottle to place near your plants, this is especially good for seedlings and your plants that need delicate watering
  1. Scoop
  • Place your water bottle on its side with the handle facing up
  • Draw a scoop shape around the bottle starting from the top edge of the bottle, half way along, down in a rainbow shaped arch to the bottom edge of the bottle at the base
  • Cut along the top edge to meet each scoop shaped arch
  • Job done, you have a scoop perfect for filling your pots from the compost bag
  1. Plant labels
  • With any spare plastic you have, utilise for plant labels by cutting into strips about 1cm wide by 8cm long (finger size)
  • Trim one edge to a point and set aside for your planting projects
  • Use a marker pen to label your pots so the plant names do not wash off when watering
  • You have a invaluable stash of plant labels at your fingertips!
  1. Self-draining planter
  • Cut a milk bottle around its centre in half carefully using a craft knife
  • Remove the lid from the bottle and turn the milk bottle top half upside down
  • Place the top half of the bottle back into the bottom half of the bottle, so the bottle ‘mouth’ is face down at the bottle base
  • You are ready to fill the container with compost and plant some seeds! When you water, the water will collect in the base and your plant will be happy and stay moist

Good luck with making these, and send some lovely photos to kentcog@kent.ac.uk

All the best,

Emily Hill

KentCOG Coordinator

Ecotherapy

How to do ecotherapy at home

Ecotherapy is essentially all about improving your mental and physical wellbeing by doing activities outdoors in nature, but what happens when your time outside is limited, or you can’t access green spaces easily?  In these difficult times, where social distancing and staying at home is becoming the new normal, let’s take a look at what can be done to top up our daily dose of green care.

Here at KentCOG even though volunteers are unable to get to the community garden to work in nature, every individual can still experience nature and the positive effects it has on wellbeing and physical health from home, and so can you.  Here’s how, with some of my favourite suggestions from Mind’s Making sense of ecotherapy resource, available online at www.mind.org.uk:

Bring nature into your home environment

  • Collect natural materials such as leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark, seeds and anything else that you like to decorate your home and use in art projects.
  • Create a comfortable space to sit in in your home where you can look out over a view of the sky or a tree.
  • Grow plants on your windowsills.

  • Take photos of your favourite places in nature and set them as your phone and computer backgrounds.
  • Try to do more everyday activity in front of a window so that you can see the sky (for example ironing clothes, chopping vegetables, brushing your teeth, drying dishes or daily exercises).
  • Download some recordings of your favourite natural sounds such as birdsong or waves.

Try horticulture at home

  • Create a growing space at home. If you don’t have a garden invest in a window box or plant pot and plant some salad leaves or herbs – even keeping a small container on your windowsill can help.

  • If you have flower beds try planting some vegetables amongst the flowers. Many varieties of vegetables have attractive flowers for part of the year and might even add to your display.
  • Put your name down for an allotment or consider sharing one.
  • Join a local community food growing project if there is one in your area.
  • Go fruit picking in the countryside, or find out about urban food foraging and get some tasty food for free.  For example, in late summer and early autumn you might find lots of wild blackberry bushes growing in urban spaces, and some trees you walk by every day on your street might actually be apple or cherry.

Get close to animals

  • Go for walks in the countryside by rivers, fields and trees, and look out for wildlife. If you don’t live near open countryside, look out for urban wildlife in your local park, such as squirrels, fish, insects, ducks and other birds.

  • Go birdwatching by yourself.
  • Hang a bird feeder outside one of your windows. If you have the space you could build a small roosting box on a tree or under a windowsill so that you can watch baby sparrows or blue tits when they leave the nest. The RSPB provides more information on feeding and sheltering birds.
  • Think about whether owning a pet would be the right thing for you. Many people find caring for a pet every day brings lots of benefits, but you need to be sure your home environment and personal circumstances would be the right thing for the animal as well as for you. If you don’t own your home, it’s also important to check if you’re allowed pets.

Do your bit for the Environment

  • Go on a litter picking walk in the park or on the beach.
  • Plant something outside the front of your home so that everybody who walks by can enjoy it.
  • Plant flowers for the bees and berry bushes for the birds in your garden.
  • Build an animal habitat – put up a bird box, create a hedgehog house or create a pond if you have enough space. Even a small pond can offer a home to creatures, such as newts and pond skaters.

Do more activities outdoors

  • Build a ten minute walk into your day, see if you can plan the route so that you take in a park or river.
  • If you have a garden create a space in it that you enjoy sitting in, have a picnic with home grown produce.
  • Sit under a tree in silence for a while, lean back against it and feel it supporting you.
  • Give yourself a sensory outdoor workout – find things to look at, listen to, taste, smell and touch. For inspiration visit the Let Nature Feed Your Senses website (letnaturefeedyoursenses.org).

Ecotherapy improves mental health, physical health, develops social life, builds confidence, strengthens your connection with nature and helps you practise mindfulness.  There are many ways to get involved and more information and support available at mind.org.uk. You can also join in a weekly zoom meeting on Green Spaces KentCOG 2-3pm from my home and see many of these ideas being put into practice. Spaces are limited, to book email info@eastkentmind.org.uk.

Take care.

Emily Hill – KentCOG Coordinator

University of Kent welcome Mind to the Oasis Garden

Adapted from press release:

Designed to become a sustainability hub centered on growing food, the Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG) is a collaborative outdoor space for staff and students and members of the local community to use for a range of activities.  The garden provides a space for relaxation and learning new skills, as well as growing fruit and vegetables throughout the seasons. The garden is now also home to a new initiative to develop wellbeing and green care.

KentCOG is being developed by the University’s Student Wellbeing team with new partners, East Kent Mind. East Kent Mind will provide opportunities to take part in sessions, peer support activities and workshops with an aim to support and improve mental health and wellbeing. 

The garden is located along the Crab and Winkle pathway to the far east of the Canterbury Campus past the Park Wood accommodation.  Helping with its design – with an emphasis on accessibility- is Gardeners’ World local expert Mark Lane.  Other organisations actively involved with the garden include the Whitstable and Herne Bay Beekeepers group and Kent Union.

Activities in the garden also fit in with several of the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals that the University has pledged to follow.

KentCOG would love to hear from any members of the public with skills in gardening, foraging, design, art, permaculture, and mental health who are interested in helping develop the garden.

Email us now at kentcog@kent.ac.uk or info@eastkentmind.org.uk or come and visit us at the garden on Wednesdays between 10am – 2pm

 

Cultures of Sustainability

New Modern Languages module SCL505 ‘Cultures of Sustainability’ has been inaugurated with an extra-curricular discussion about permaculture and the planting of an apple tree.

To mark the new module, permaculture expert Jo Barker held an informal discussion in the Kent Community Oasis Garden about the principles of permaculture, and the planting of a Red Falstaff heritage apple tree.

This was followed by a foraging walk, identifying the variety of hedgerow plants and ‘weeds’ that are edible and nutritious.

School Sustainability Champion and Module Convenor, William Rowlandson, who organised the session, commented: “It is important that we consider the scope of teaching beyond the confines of the seminar room and lecture theatre. Whilst this was an optional session and therefore not attended by all the group, it was a successful event, introducing the notion of the campus as a Living Lab and exploring the principles of permaculture and sustainability from the perspective of the Humanities. We hope to hold more similar events later in the semester and in subsequent years.”

Meet Beth – student testimonial

I received my placement with Kent Enterprise Trust through the employability points scheme at the University of Kent. I chose to accept the placement offer over others because I was keen to gain some knowledge in environmental work after completing my degree in Biomedical Science. My job title has been Environmental Champion, which seemed perfect for the experience I was looking for.

My first two days were spent in the Kent Community Oasis Garden, where I was given the freedom to complete my own project. Inspiration for my project came from research that I had carried out beforehand and the presence of materials in which I saw potential to be recycled into something environmentally friendly – an insect house. Insect houses encourage biodiversity, certain insects that eat pests in the garden and sometimes pollinators. It therefore, seemed beneficial to create an environment where insects that may increase the yields of the garden can live and breed.

On the first day, I lead two volunteers to collect and assemble the materials needed for the base and structure of the house. It was very rewarding to take my own initiative and guide a group to begin a completely new project. There were no volunteers available to help me on my second day so I completed the rest mostly by myself. I collected rotting wood, bark, bamboo, grass cuttings, leaf litter and other organic materials from all around the garden to arrange in the four layers of the insect house. This meant that whilst I was recycling, I was also tidying the garden a little and removing unwanted items from it. As the structure required hammering nails and sawing wood, I had to learn some new DIY skills. This was also extremely rewarding, as it was the first time that I had carried out any task like this and so it was beneficial for my life-skills and knowledge. I was really happy with the final result and I think it will very likely attract the right insects to help the garden. The volunteers in the garden seemed interested in the insect house and many of them asked me questions and wanted to know about how and why I was building it. I think this is another reason why my project was useful, as it engaged the people that it will hopefully help and raised some awareness of the importance of the ecosystem in the garden.

I spent some time in the office writing up a report for my insect house project. Researching the subject and documenting my work in this way was a useful experience. My report will be used on the charity’s website and used as an example of the benefits the garden has. The fact that my project can be an example of the great work the charity do is very satisfying. The rest of my time was spent organising and packing books for a book sale during a yearly celebration. The funds raised will be used for the community garden.

Overall, my time at Kent Enterprise Trust was productive and valuable and I feel like I have really developed my DIY, leadership and teamwork abilities. I was warmly welcomed into both the garden and office environments and enjoyed discovering how a charity runs and how that affects the beneficiaries. My wish to gain some insight into work involved with the environment was also fulfilled. The experience was rewarding and I definitely feel as though I am more prepared to enter the working world.

The importance of insects

Student Beth who has interned with KET as their environmental champion has been looking at the importance of insects and got practical by building KentCOG’s first insect hotel.

The importance of insects and providing them with a home
Every insect plays a role in the ecosystem in which it is found. The essential act of pollination is most commonly carried out by bees and butterflies; however, some ants, flies, beetles and even wasps contribute. When an insect lands on a flower, some pollen is transferred onto its body from the stamen (the male part of the flower). This pollen is rubbed off onto a different flower of the same species, where it can fertilise the stigma (the female part) to produce seeds. Some plants are capable of self-pollinating or being pollinated by seeds in the wind, however, a majority cross-pollinate as described. Therefore, the continuation of most plant species is dependent on these insects. Not only is this important for wildlife habitats, but also for humans, who rely on effective pollination for food. Due to habitat loss, insecticides and climate change, bee and butterfly numbers have been declining for years. It is therefore important for humans to aim to reduce the damage – one way of doing this is by providing areas where they can lay their eggs.

Honey Bees” by gailhampshire is licensed under CC BY 2.0

From a gardener’s perspective, pollination is necessary, but so is pest control. If a gardener wishes to be mindful of bees and other wildlife, as well as health concerns, they may be averse to using pesticides. Fortunately, there are various bugs which feed on unwanted insects and these can be purchased or encouraged into your garden by introducing their preferred breeding environments. The larvae of lacewings are well-known to devour aphids, also known as greenfly or blackfly. Aphids are one of the most destructive pests in gardens, as they weaken plants by sucking their sap, feed on their leaves, can transport plant viruses and cause the growth of sooty moulds. Insecticides are often ineffective at removing aphids anyway, but in addition to lacewing larvae, ladybirds and crab spiders eat and so control aphids. Ladybird larvae and adults also feed on other pests such as mealybugs, mites, thrips and scale insects. Minute pirate bugs, syrphid flies (hoverflies) and damsel bugs all contribute to pest removal as well.

The larger ground beetle feeds on larger pests such as slugs and cutworms as well as insect eggs. Each of these useful creatures has a preferred environment to breed and live in. So, a diverse range of bugs in a garden can facilitate the growth and maintenance of plants. In the case of food-yielding plants, this can mean a larger production of fruits and
vegetables. KentCOG would benefit from this, as more produce can be sold to raise money, or more garden participants can benefit from their efforts by taking home food. An ‘insect hotel’ can encourage these beneficial bugs
by containing different environments which provide them with a home and breeding-ground. This may be especially useful in the colder months when insects search for a warm and dry place to burrow or hibernate.

Materials and insect preferences
Materials for a hotel can be collected from nature or be recycled items. When arranged properly, they can provide the perfect home for specific insects.
• Bark attracts centipedes, beetles and spiders in addition to woodlice and millipedes which contribute to the system of recycling in a garden.
• Broken plants pots and bricks and drainpipes can add to the structure and provide more space for burrowing.
• Dead and rotting wood provides a home for beetles, centipedes, woodlice and fungi.
• Hollow stems, bamboo and holes in wood make a great environment for solitary bees to lay eggs on the sun-catching side.
• Pinecones give refuge to ladybirds and lacewings.
• Straw, dried grass and dry leaf litter give ladybirds a place to hibernate over winter as well as other insects a place to burrow.
• Wood chippings or rolled cardboard inside a plastic bottle provides an ideal home for pest-eating lacewings.
• Hedgehog boxes and stones and tiles for frogs and newts can be added if you want to attract even more wildlife. These larger animals eat slugs and other pests in the garden.

Tips for building an insect hotel

  1. Find a site that is level and firm, ideally in a shady area as most insects like moist and cool conditions. If you wish to attract solitary bees, ensure at least one side will receive plenty of sunlight (facing north or south).
  2. Create a solid base from old wooden pallets or spare wood. Stack up the wood into layers with lace larger pieces at the bottom and secure each level with string, wire, or nails. Make sure that the structure has a solid back to keep in warmth and keep out moisture.
  3. Fill each layer with the previously mentioned materials. These can be found around your garden, be donated or recycled from your house. For safety reasons, don’t make the structure more than a metre high.
  4. Give your hotel a roof using old tiles or planks. You can cover them with roofing felt to keep it relatively dry. The roof can also be a habitat; put some rubble or soil on top which may allow wildflower growth or add some more dead wood to weight it all down.
  5. Insect hotels can be built at any time of year, but autumn is ideal as it will provide the insects with a place to hibernate during winter.
  6. Surrounding your hotel nectar-rich flowers will attract insects and pollinators such as bees. Planting native species (wildflowers) may attract rarer native species of bees as they have evolved together. Different bees are active throughout different times of the year, so having flowering plants throughout, ensures bees will have food all year round. Great examples are lavender (summer), honeysuckle (autumn), ivy (winter) and bluebell (spring).

My project
The idea to build an insect hotel during my placement came from research that I had carried out beforehand. When I arrived at KentCOG, I saw lots of materials that had the potential to be recycled to create the environmentally friendly project. Just after the entrance to the garden, there is a large pile of relatively healthy scrap wood. I saw two structures that resembled wooden pallets as well as four draw-like boxes which would be perfect for assembling the base and structure. After checking that there would be a substantial amount of materials around the garden to fill the hotel and correct tools to build it, I began construction.

On the first day, I lead two volunteers, Hannah and Matt, and we created a base for the hotel. We sawed 4 small pieces of wood and nailed them into the corners of the first ‘pallet’. This provided balance for the second ‘pallet’ that we nailed on top. The nails that we used were largely rusty and old and so unusable for larger projects, however, they worked great for the hotel, which created another means of recycling through them. Mirelle showed us a shady, concealed spot to place the hotel and we used spades to level out the ground. We then installed the base onto the clear spot.

As there were no volunteers available on the second day, I worked mostly by myself. I began by collecting rotting wood from a large container in the garden, which contained old, disused blocks, logs and tree cuttings. I also found some fresh tree branch cuttings. I organised these pieces of wood into the base as they are the heaviest components and will help to steady the structure. Using long, thin planks of wood found on the scrap wood pile, I made a steadying platform for the second layer, on top of the base. Gemma helped me to hammer out two sides of the boxes from the woodpile, so that there would be an opening at the front and access to the middle. Once I had secured the boxes with discarded string and nails, I began searching for materials to fill them with.

Some volunteers had recently cut and collected small branches and twigs from the trees surrounding the garden, so I asked them to leave them out for me to use. When I was sure that they were dry, I placed them into the
centre space of the layer. The grass had also been cut within the past week and it was very sunny, so it had dried out and become like hay. I gathered some of it and put in the back two areas of the boxes. Lots of bark was laying around in the garden, so I picked up enough to fill another space in the layer. The last area in this layer contains three different components. I found some disused bamboo sticks in a polytunnel and so I sawed and broke these up to fit in the box. Next to these is a plastic bottle which a volunteer had used the day before. I saved it, dried it out and filled it with wood chippings found in the rotting wood pile. The last items in the box were found in the tool shed. They are old, plastic tube coverings for tree saplings, which had not been needed for a long time. I broke these up to
fit and filled the back-facing ends with more grass-cuttings. To fill the empty space at the back of this section, I used some of the smaller material in twig collection pile.

Another two thin planks gave a platform for the next layer of boxes. Some bush-craft days had been run in the open space adjacent to the garden and consequently, there were a few piles of leaf litter. I collected some of it into a box with all four sides intact, to give some extra shelter and warmth. The last box contains five more of the plastic tree coverings, again with grass cuttings in the ends. Empty spaces were also filled with the cuttings, which helped to keep the tubes in place. The back of the boxes and fence behind the hotel keep it relatively enclosed and will provide adequate shelter. Finally, I discovered a board with one laminate side in the scrap wood pile. This was perfect for a roof, as it was the correct size and will provide some rain protection. I placed this on the top layer and weighed it down with semi-rotting logs that I found all around the garden. My final step was to place the large log right in front of the hotel, to steady the ground, as it was on a slight mound. It could also provide a seat for anyone wanting to have a
look at the creatures living inside. I cleared out some of the prickly plants and loose grass in the surrounding area, to
accommodate any visitors.

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.