One aim of the Department’s Environmental Sustainability Action Plan is to maintain the premises in an environmentally sensitive way. Since November 2019 we have (led by Lynda Haines, now our Green Impact Coordinator) encouraged and built interest from staff and students in regular gardening and biodiversity activities. These activities sit within the University’s overarching aim 'to be a leading organisation within the sector in limiting negative and, where possible, having positive direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity and natural ecosystems so that the University’s practical performance in this area matches its aspirations to be a global leader in conservation'.
We began by developing our outside spaces to both encourage and sustain biodiversity, and to create attractive areas for staff and students to use. We started in the autumn by tidying up the bike shed area and planting 100s of bulbs in the borders.
During the Christmas break 2019, the courtyard area behind House 21 was fitted with recycled planters (made and donated by local landscaping company SJH Groundworks) ready for cultivating our own vegetables in the Spring. Tools and furniture were also been donated, and the Green Impact Team hopes to source more furniture so the courtyard can be used as an outdoor meeting room and as a place for staff and students to relax during the day.
Our first gardening session was held on 30 January 2020, when some of our staff and students helped plant herbs (lavender, rosemary and thyme) in the beds.
In addition to developing an accessible outdoor space, the Department encourages everyone to have at least one pot plant in their office. This has proved very popular, and some people have several different plants in their office. The Green Impact Team frequently receives requests for more plants! We ran a houseplant gardening session to split and repot some of the existing specimens and create more plants.
Unfortunately, our plans to grow salad vegetables and flowers in the courtyard garden have been put on hold as the Department building is currently closed becasue of the Coronavirus lockdown. As soon as the building is reopened, we will be back in our garden, and will continue to increase the biodiversity of our little section of the University and City.
In the meantime, we are encouraging staff and students to continue gardening and have an interest in biodiversity while working from home. When we all decamped from the building in March 2020, staff and students were invited to take any pot plants they had in their work spaces home with them. Since then in a regular Green Gardening Wellbeing email sent to all staff, people have been shown how to care for and propogate their plants.
Seed planting has also been a focus with articles on growing herbs on a windowsill, and cultivating new vegetables from leftover kitchen scraps.
In Spring/Summer 2021, we ran a popular "Land Economy Grows Sunflowers Competition, when staff were posted some seeds to cultivate at home and to take progress photos as they grow. In the autumn the tallest winner won a £25 Garden Voucher. We are hoping to run a similar competition in Spring/Summer 2022, but haven't decided what to grow yet.