Image shows garden project in the Garthdee House Annex Quad area.

Celebrating nature across campus

By Jenny Frost - 15 September 2022

Increasing biodiversity across campus, is part of the University’s Vibrant campus initiative to improve the work and study environment for staff and students and to engage with the wider, local community. As part of this project, a team led by Anne Campbell from Gray’s School of Art, is creating nature friendly growing spaces across campus as Anne explains.

“Over the past few months, I’ve worked closely with the University’s Estate’s team to map out nature friendly growing spaces across campus to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers.  We’ve made good progress so far and established a new garden layout to transform the much-neglected quadrangle in the Garthdee House Annex Quad area. We’ve planted fruit trees and bushes and dug out several deep beds for growing herbs and a selection of greens. I’m so grateful for all the help so far and would like to say a big thank you particularly to fellow gardener, Thorsten Lauterbach from the Law School and to Brian Strachan and his team from estates! 

“Creating new green spaces will help establish new habitats and wildlife opportunities across campus, that will increase food for birds and insects and create greater awareness about the importance of biodiversity at the University.   It will also support the University’s commitment to reduce its environmental footprint and to operate in a more sustainable way to meet its Net Zero targets.    

“What’s more, the new planting areas will demonstrate the benefits of eating locally and growing organic produce and highlight how easy and cost effective it is to grow your own  food. Given the growing cost-of-living challenges, this will become increasingly important. To help raise awareness about the benefits of growing your own vegetables when possible, we plan to introduce QR codes at the new gardens that can signpost students and staff to information sites with tips on how to use the plants and herbs to create simple, tasty and nutritious food. We’ll also be around to offer advice to anyone who wants to get involved.

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“Encouraging the use of RGU’s green spaces, whether for gardening, picking herbs to cook or simply getting outside at breaks will also have real mental health benefits that will benefit staff and students. We also hope the project will help foster new partnerships with local organisations and encourage people out with the University to visit the campus. 

It’s such an exciting project and we plan to create small beds for spring vegetables and introduce flowering shrubs and some bee friendly wildflowers this spring. It’s going to be a busy autumn with plenty of jobs to do in the next few weeks, including planting bulbs and plants in the borders and pots, planting hardy winter lettuce and weeding between the fruit bushes.   

“We want to encourage ownership of the new ‘Garden in the Quad’ from building users, staff and students and are planning to have regular open sessions fortnightly on Wednesdays from 12.30 – 1.30pm from 28 September so that people can share their ideas and get involved. You don’t need to have had any gardening experience but an enthusiasm to be part of an exciting project to enhance nature across RGU.” 

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