19 November 2014 16:53

A Students’ Union initiative has been recognised as ‘Outstanding’ by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

The Edible Campus Project, a sustainability initiative organised by Green Lancaster, has won Gold at the Royal Horticultural Society’s It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards.

Presented by the RHS and North West in Bloom, the Award recognises significant community-led environmental improvement initiatives.

The aim of the project is to reconnect students and staff with the food they eat in a sustainable way.

The project began as a small student-led growing site in 2009, and Green Lancaster has since partnered with NUS Student Eats and the Students’ Green Fund, receiving over £137,000 to transform unexpected areas across the campus into growing areas, planting fruit trees, herbs, wildflowers and a variety of vegetables.

The Eco-Hub had its largest harvest this summer, with hundreds of seasonal vegetables being produced such as carrots, potatoes and spinach as well as many salad crops from the polytunnel.

The project expanded to introduce 12 ex-battery chickens in early 2014, making Lancaster the first University in the UK to house poultry as part of a sustainability initiative. 

Lancaster Environment Centre is linked to the project as part of their commitment to research into food security and sustainable agriculture. A LEC-based research group is also evaluating the broader impact of student and staff participation in the initiative.

Jeremy Pye, who was heavily involved in the project as a student, said: “Through the Edible Campus Project I learnt much more about the environment and all the little things we can do to be more sustainable.

“The project also helped me to learn new skills, both practically and in terms of people management. I enjoyed it all, come rain or shine – sometimes quite literally!”

Darren Axe, the Project Co-ordinator of Green Lancaster, said: “It has been great to be involved in the RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards for three years running and to have improved the level of our award year on year. I’m delighted with the Gold Award that we’ve received this year and it demonstrates a solid commitment from students and staff at the University to enhance the campus landscape through new and interesting planting schemes.”

To get involved in the work of Green Lancaster, please contact Darren Axe by emailing d.axe@lancaster.ac.uk