Students at The University of Nottingham are being encouraged to ‘grow their own’ in an ambitious project being set up by one of their fellow students.
Sheridan Chilvers, who is currently studying, part-time, for an MSc in Environmental Management at the University, aims to encourage fellow students to turn their underutilised gardens into potential food production land. Any surplus fruit and veg will be distributed to low income families.
Many students live across the city in traditional family houses with gardens of all shapes and sizes. Sheridan said: “I am not expecting it to be easy! However, this land represents an underutilised source of local food production and could be used to benefit the students as well as the local community. A project like this will also promote healthy living and create stronger links between students and the local community. However, anyone interested in taking part must get permission from their landlords.”
The project has already gained support from a range of organisations including Groundworks, Sprout, and Ecoworks.
As well as providing equipment to get started Ecoworks will offer training on how to grow different types of food in different environments such as gardens, terraces and balconies. This training will take place at the Ecoworks site in St Anns in Nottingham and on the University’s student allotments run by the University’s Allotment Society. Any surplus food will be distributed through Ecoworks city wide food network.
If students are not able to use their own gardens a land share scheme will be coordinated through the Lenton and Dunkirk partnership forum.
Among Sheridan’s first recruits is PhD engineering student Ronaldo Ronaldo who has recently acquired his own allotment. He said “Allotments have become very popular recently and I was on the waiting list for three and a half years.
“The UK has an extraordinary scheme in providing land with a statutory use for growing food crops by individuals. It’s a great example how a developed economy has not forgotten the basics.
"I'll be growing many exotic species for two reasons, firstly they are very difficult to get here, and secondly if it's successful, imagine how much carbon can be saved. I’m also re-using as much unwanted materials as I can, such as unused pallets from a local business that would otherwise go to a landfill, they can also be used as a compost bin.”
Among the crops Ronaldo is planning to grow are short cucumber, chilli, pak choi, kai lan, and Japanese pumpkin.
Ronaldo said: “I'm not sure yet how my expertise in micro and nano technologies can be put into practice in growing foods. But I bet it'll be the other way around, there is plenty to learn from nature. I'm looking forward to meeting the experts in many relevant areas, that's why I joined up with this great initiative.”
Sheridan Chilvers was born and brought up in St Anns in Nottingham, an area of the city which is home to the oldest and largest detached town gardens in Britain. The St Anns allotments have 670 individual gardens which have been used for more than 600 years as a place where residents can grow their own food. Over the last year he has been working with the British Council as one of their Challenge Europe: Climate Advocates. He has recently been successful in his application to become a British Council: International Climate Champion and through this new role is currently planning a climate change awareness event.
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Notes to editors
: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.
Additional information: Sheridan and Ronaldo will be available for interviews on Ronaldo’s allotment on Friday November 6 2009.