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Introducing the Allotment + Community Garden

13 August 2019

In May, a team of staff and students from the School of Biological Sciences, External Estates and Sustainability came together to create the Allotment+ Community Garden project. Students from the Bristol SU Roots Community Gardening Society also helped to secure an Education Innovation Grant to develop an area of unused land, next to the David Smith Building on St Michael’s Hill.    Nineteen volunteers signed up for our ‘big clean’ and made a tremendous effort to clear and start to create this fantastic usable space.

Allotment community gaden_opt

At the start of 2019, planning commenced on the Allotment+ Project. Led by Andrew Wakefield, Teaching Fellow, and Emily Bell, Senior Teaching Associate, from the School of Biological Sciences, permission from Alan Stealey, Head of External Estates, to create a staff-student community garden adjacent to the David Smith building on St Michael’s Hill.   

Andy and Emily from Biological Sciences, staff from Estates as well as students from the SU group ‘Roots Community Gardening’ currently form the garden planning committee. We will be encouraging as many students and staff as possible from the Life Sciences Faculty to get involved with establishing and looking after the garden and activities/events will be coordinated with regular emails and online timetabling. Beyond this management component, the garden will be open as a place for staff and students to relax, to learn, to revise, to meet-up and to get inspired. 

The garden will be used as:   

  • an allotment (for growing produce to then be sold on campus – see below);   
  • a dedicated space for third- and fourth-year biology project students to conduct field experiments;   
  • an outdoor teaching space (e.g. for tutorials and various units we teach);   
  • a space for students and staff to relax and improve wellbeing (linking to the new ‘CafeBio’ provision within the School of Biological Sciences);   
  • a space to communicate UOB research and activities (e.g. planting of wild flower seed mixes developed by research in Biological Sciences);  
  • an area for community events and student/staff training sessions;  
  • a general meeting space;  
  • a showcase for both student-staff collaboration and for ideas to improve employability and wellbeing.  

The garden adds to the University’s Green Impact, by creating a useable green space following the loss of lawn due to the construction of the temporary Ivy Gate lecture theatres and the forthcoming permanent lecture theatre adjacent to the David Smith building. The creation of the garden is also timely with Bristol Life Sciences School’s new Plant Sciences degree programme.   

Once established, produce grown on site will be sold to cover annual costs. This idea will improve our student enterprise offering within the school, on the Bristol Skills Framework. The garden experience will also help to build career opportunities and employability for students. Certain plants can also be reared under optimal conditions in the Life Sciences Building GroDome prior to transplantation into the garden.   

Alice Maxwell-Lyte, Sam Holt and Alex Cordery from Sustainability have been supporting the Allotment+ project by helping to source materials. Their roles in waste and recycling mean that they come across all sorts of items which can be upcycled for the project. They supplied cardboard to cover the ground in early 2019, to prep the area for mulching in the Spring. Sustainability also provided tyres and small wooden crates for planters, a surplus bin to be converted into a water butt, pallets for creating seating, and wooden cable reels which became tables.  

Gardens and Grounds from External Estates provided sand for levelling the site, compost and soil for the raised beds, wood chips for the paths. Emily purchased wooden sleepers to construct the raised beds from the Bristol Wood Recycling Project.  

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