Students help garden share scheme come to fruition

A scheme started by students to help residents in Bath's Oldfield Park find allotment space in unloved gardens is producing its first vegetable crops this summer.

The Growing Together Project was set up to enable local green-fingered residents to grow fruit and vegetables in unused student gardens and to give students and residents the chance to get to know each other.

The first garden share to flourish in the scheme is now producing runner beans, onions, carrots and potatoes for Oldfield Park resident Pat Wallis and she is hoping to produce a monthly veg box to thank the students who are lending her their garden.

Carly Whittaker, a postgraduate researcher from our Department of Mechanical Engineering, is passionate about gardening and worked with Pat to turn the overgrown plot into a productive vegetable patch.

Pat Wallis said: “My own garden is ornamental so I thought it would be great to have a go at growing veg. I can walk to the garden and Carly and I have spent a lot of time digging and tidying up the space. The biggest challenge was watering, but the landlord has kindly installed an outside tap. I hadn’t had any contact with students before, but the lads in the house are a really nice group and I’m hoping to grow some tomatoes for them.”

Carly is now working with fellow research student Paul Griffin to clear and plant another garden and is hoping that more residents will come forward to join the scheme.

She said: “I got involved because I was looking for somewhere to grow vegetables. It’s really satisfying to turn a neglected garden into a mini allotment and to bring together students and local residents in Oldfield Park.”

Carly is also working with local resident June Player and Bath Spa Business & Management student Charlotte Braund, on a scheme to clear up Oldfield Park Station, known as the On Board project. She recently won a volunteering award from the Students’ Union celebrating her commitment to community projects.

Anna Boneham, Volunteer Coordinator in the Students’ Union said: “This innovative project is a great way of bringing students and permanent residents closer together whilst also reinvigorating unused student gardens as allotment spaces.

“Carly's dedication has been instrumental in the success of this scheme. Her passion towards a more ethical and environmentally aware way of living is catching and this is why she has made the Growing Together project successful. We are looking forward to expanding into more gardens over the next academic year".

The Growing Together project is one of many community schemes supported by students which are being celebrated in this year’s Universities Week 13-19 June 2011. Universities Week aims to highlight how universities benefit everyone whether or not they have gone to university, including showing what students give back to the local community through volunteering.

The Growing Together project is being delivered by both the University of Bath and Bath Spa's Student Unions with support from Bath & North East Somerset Council as part of the Student Community Partnership (a partnership between B&NES Council and student and staff representatives from the University of Bath and Bath Spa University).

Oldfield Park residents who are interested in finding out more about Growing Together can contact Anna Boneham on 01225 383198 or email a.boneham@bath.ac.uk.

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