London Student Sustainability Conference 2024

London, a city bustling with energy and innovation, is once again at the forefront of a movement towards a more sustainable future. As the global climate crisis looms ever larger, the need for action has never been more urgent. In the heart of this vibrant metropolis, students from universities across the capital gather for the London Student Sustainability Conference 2024, a beacon of hope and catalyst for change. 

This year we had many University of Greenwich members participate in the conference in the form of presenting, steering, volunteering and attending. Look forward to a few blogs to give you the inside scoop of what the conference was like! 

Sustainable Tourism: Unveiling Challenges and Opportunities in The Gambia 

By Ousman Jawneh Jawara


My name is Ousman Jawneh Jawara, a third-year student pursuing a BA in Tourism Management. I was thrilled to be selected to present my project, “Tourism in Gambia: Challenges and Opportunities,” at the London Student Sustainability Conference hosted at Imperial College in London. This research topic has been a source of inspiration for me for over six years, shaping not only my academic journey but also my commitment to contributing to sustainable tourism development in my home country. 


The Gambia, nestled in the heart of Africa, boasts a rich tourism history, abundant natural resources, UNESCO heritage sites, stunning beaches, and a delightful climate. Despite its small size, tourism plays a significant role, contributing 20% to the national GDP and fostering overall develop

ment. However, this growth is not without challenges, including climate change, environmental degradation, economic leakage, and a lack of comprehensive tourism policies. 

Research Rationale: 

My project aims to delve into the reasons behind the frustration in tourism development in The Gambia despite its vast natural resources. Key questions include understanding the draw factors for tourists, the impact of tourism on households, and its contribution to the national economy. Additionally, the lack of academic research in this area motivates this study, aiming to bridge the existing gap in knowledge. 

Passion for Sustainable Tourism: 

What compelled me to present at LSSC24 is the deep-seated passion, love, and dedication I have for my country. I am committed to achieving sustainable tourism development through research and promoting responsible tourism that not only benefits the economy but also safeguards our planet and involves local communities. Representing my university at this level is an added honor and responsibility. 

Interest in Sustainability: 

My interest in sustainability is rooted in its role as a solution to preserve our planet and its biodiversity. With a professional focus on tourism management, I comprehend the negative impacts associated with tourism and value the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social, and environmental. Embracing sustainability aligns with the UN’s 2030 agenda of meeting present needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own. 

Collective Effort for a Sustainable Future: 

The mantra, “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” underscores the importance of collective efforts. I advocate for increased awareness through educational campaigns and the integration of sustainability in development policies, ensuring equal opportunities for future generations. 


I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Fatemeh Mohamadi, my project supervisor, for her unwavering support throughout the presentation process. Special thanks to Andres Coca Stefaniak for inspiring me with his knowledge on sustainability, Samantha Chaperon, Lauren Siegel, Isabella Ye, and to all the dedicated lecturers from the Department of Tourism and Events. 

In sharing my research, I aspire to contribute to the discourse on sustainable tourism, fostering positive change in The Gambia and beyond. 

Embracing Sustainability and Student Leadership: My Journey as a Volunteer at LSSC24 

By Ishan Thakkar

Hello, I’m Ishan Thakkar, a dedicated student pursuing International Business at the University of Greenwich. With a fervent interest in sustainability and a deep appreciation for nature, I am always on the lookout for opportunities that allow me to make a positive impact. My journey as a volunteer at the London Student Sustainability Conference 2024 (LSSC24), hosted at Imperial College London, was a testament to my proactive approach and commitment to environmental stewardship. 

As I sit down to pen my thoughts on my recent volunteering experience at the LSSC24, I am filled with a sense of pride and fulfilment. This marks my second year of volunteering at this prestigious event, and with each passing year, my passion for sustainability and student leadership grows stronger. 

The decision to volunteer at LSSC24 was driven by a deep-seated belief in the importance of sustainability and a desire to actively contribute to its advancement. Having volunteered at last year’s conference, I was inspired by the impactful discussions, innovative ideas, and unwavering dedication of both presenters and participants towards creating a more sustainable future. It was this inspiring environment that motivated me to return for another year of volunteering. 

At LSSC24, I served as a volunteer, assisting presenters and organizers in ensuring the smooth execution of the event. From setting up venues to guiding attendees, every task was undertaken with enthusiasm and dedication. One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering was the opportunity to engage with presenters and learn about their sustainability initiatives firsthand. Their passion and commitment to driving positive change left a lasting impression on me and reinforced my belief in the power of collective action. 

As the day progressed, I found myself immersed in thought-provoking discussions and insightful conversations during the networking event. Interacting with fellow participants from diverse backgrounds provided a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas, perspectives, and experiences related to sustainability. From discussing innovative solutions to pressing environmental challenges to forging new connections and collaborations, the networking event epitomized the spirit of collaboration and collective effort that defines the sustainability movement. 

Proudly student-led and organized by ten universities, LSSC24 showcased the collective efforts of students in addressing sustainability challenges. The commitment of the Student Delivery Group was evident in every aspect of the conference, infusing it with a student perspective and ensuring its success. 

Looking ahead, I am very much inspired by my experience at LSSC24. It has reaffirmed my commitment to sustainability and ignited a newfound determination to make a meaningful impact. Therefore, I am excited to announce that I will be working on my own sustainability initiative over the coming year. My goal is to develop a comprehensive project that addresses a pressing sustainability issue and showcase it at the upcoming LSSC25. I eagerly anticipate becoming one of the presenters as well. I am eager to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on sustainability and to inspire others to join me in taking action towards a more sustainable future. 

In conclusion, my experience as a volunteer at LSSC24 has been transformative. It has not only deepened my understanding of sustainability but has also empowered me to become a proactive agent of change. I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be part of such a meaningful event and am excited about the journey that lies ahead. With determination and passion, I am confident that together, we can create a more sustainable world for future generations. 

My experience in the Student Delivery Group at LSSC24 

By Michelle Kossowski

My name is Michelle Kossowski and I am a first-year international law student from Canada. I joined the university’s Sustainability team as a volunteer in September 2023. Ever since then, I have supported Clothes Swap events and was a member of the Student Delivery Group for the London Student Sustainability Conference 2024! I am drawn to the sector of sustainability because improving the environment has a direct effect on people’s quality of life. I believe sustainability is not just about improving the current quality of life, but ensuring it keeps to a high standard in the future. The issue of fast fashion interests me because I often see my peers making unsustainable fashion choices due to the rapidly changing trend cycle. I hope to educate others on the social and environmental impacts of unsustainable fashion. I am also intrigued in the intersection between sustainability and law because the law can be a mechanism to prevent environmental misconduct. I heard about the opportunity of joining the Student Delivery Group from the sustainability team at Greenwich. It was immediately a group I wanted to be a part of because I wanted to connect and network with like-minded individuals. I also was interested in this event because it highlighted the ambitious ideas of young people who truly believe teamwork will lead to a greener planet. My first meeting with the Student Delivery Group was electric, as we all had ideas about the event. It was a diverse and welcoming space to give and receive feedback. I settled as the conference’s Social Media Manager and my responsibilities were to create promotional content and content on the day. The opening ceremony of the conference was already filled with excitement and hope.

A highlight of the ceremony was a speech given by Dr. Omnia El Omrani, who is a Climate Change and Health Junior Policy Fellow at Imperial College London. She talked about her work in promoting a health-focused approach to sustainability across the world and how she presented youth efforts on climate and health at COP28 UAE. This set an inspirational tone for the day! Although I was running around the building with the student photographer getting the perfect shots for social media, I found the time to sit down for a presentation. I listened to Niso Khamraeva’s presentation, “Saving the Aral Sea,” which focused on a region of the world that was completely new to me, Karakalpakstan. She discussed the gender and climate impacts of the community’s diminishing water source and finished the speech with the insightful question: “If every specialist brought with them a bucket of water, would the sea be filled again?” After the presentation, I went to conduct short interviews with the workshop leaders. It was a comfortable atmosphere and the lecturers I spoke with were open about their experiences and motivations surrounding the LSSC24. Attending the LSSC24 was an enriching experience to learn more about sustainability from a student perspective and I intend to foster all the connections I made 

LSSC24: Creating opportunities for students to shine 

By Fariha ‘Faz’ Ahmed

Hi, I’m Faz Ahmed, Sustainability Projects Assistant at The University of Greenwich. I became a part of the UoG fabric around 5 months ago and one of the first tasks I got given was to be involved in the London Student Sustainability Conference 2024. Now, in all honesty I had never heard of this conference (which is shameful considering I just recently graduated in sustainability from a London university), so I turned up to the meetings with very little clue and first-day jitters. 

But what I found was an inspiring group of higher education professionals gung-ho in creating the best and most impactful experience for students interested in a topic near and dear; sustainability.  

Steering group leader, Arthur Shearlaw, spear-headed the event to what it is, ensuring everyone was on the same page, and doing a lot of the less than exciting work; the dreaded admin. I was lucky to have UoG Sustainability Manager, David Jackson to hold my hand through the process and make me aware of the ins and outs. Apart from these shout-outs it was just wonderful to meet such an eclectic group of varied people ranging from lecturers, sustainability professionals and people new to higher education, just like me, who were truly enthused to share their knowledge and experiences in sustainability. 

Now, when it comes the actual event, I made the rather rash decision to manage the student volunteers who so kindly gave up their time to make the event what it was. If I’m being honest, the role did make me want to scream at times, especially when I was running around like a headless chicken on the day. However, the screams quickly turned into smiles once I met such a broad range of young, passionate students with real interest in contributing to how our world is shaped.  

The experience was incredible, and I’ll leave it at that. 

Welcoming our new Sustainability Projects Assistant…

Hi, I’m Alex and I’m excited to be joining the sustainability team for a year as the new Sustainability Projects Assistant!

Alex enjoying the views of the fjords in Norway

Alex enjoying the views of the fjords in Norway

I’ve got a background in Physical Geography, so I am a geek in anything from climate change to natural hazards to glaciers. For the past year I’ve been doing an MA with Forum for the Future in ‘Leadership for Sustainable Development’.

forum for the future

My masters course has allowed me to sample sustainability in a range of organisations, from a charity to a local authority, from Bank of America to a multi-national company. It also allowed me to look at the idea of ‘systems change’, for example, how can we cause change for sustainability in the complex food system, or the energy system? I’m looking forward to putting my learning into practice at Greenwich.

I’ll be looking after the Sustainability Management System and helping Emily out with other sustainability projects. These projects include Green Impact and the Carbon Management Plan, and I’ll also be helping with sustainability events such as the Green Week. Green Impact is a behaviour change project where teams are rewarded for their efforts, so get in contact with the sustainability team if you would like to know more! I’m especially looking forward to getting to know the sustainability champions and spotting new opportunities for sustainability at Greenwich.

Greenwich is a leader in Sustainability within Higher Education, coming 6th this year in the People & Planet’s ‘Green League’, and this is what made me so attracted to working here. So far everyone has been friendly and welcoming and I’m very impressed with the garden!

As I settle in, you may see me wandering round the campuses so I hope to meet as many staff and students as possible on my travels. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at, or if you have any questions about Sustainability at the University of Greenwich then email

John's Farewell…..

Today I will be leaving the University of Greenwich and heading to the University of London to become the Environmental Manager there. It has been nearly three years now since I joined the brand new Sustainability Team and so much has happened in that relatively short period of time. It has been quite a time and there have been so many lessons learnt along the way!

University of London

Senate House at the University of London - How does it measure up to the Royal Naval College?

When I started here three years ago the University was just at the start of its sustainability journey, with a new Sustainability Policy and only the first rumblings of any major action taking place as so far as implementation. As I quickly discovered sustainability at a university is like being thrown in the deep-end, realsising that there is in fact only a deep end and then a wave machine! Thankfully though we learnt to swim, then surf and then enjoy the ride as well.

Now we have groups overseeing a whole host of different sustainability projects and initiatives including carbon management, sustainable food and Fairtrade, biodiversity and food growing on campus. On top of this we have a fantastic group of staff sustainability champions that have made the job of communicating and engaging the university with sustainability so much easier and a fantastic team who have taken on implementing the carbon management plan and achieving real savings.

As I leave Greenwich I am sure that I am leaving a university that has sustainability at the heart and will continue to push forward in the sector. It has been a joy to work with the staff and students here and great to see how far we’ve come and how enthusiastic so many have been in taking elements of sustainability into their work and studies. I shall be keeping a keen eye on Greenwich’s progress over the years and will certainly be back at some point to reap the harvest from the community garden and orchard we have planted!

A huge thank you to everyone I have worked with in my time here!

Community Garden Harvest

I'll be back around harvest time!

P.S. for anyone coming into this or a similar role who needs a head start in how to win the hearts and minds of their organisation, have a look at Sell the Sizzle by Futerra. I read it very soon after starting at Greenwich and it has remained relevant, useful and inspirational for the entire time I have spent here.

Forest Garden Plans

As the cold weather persists across London we are waiting for the sun and warmth before we get planting in the community garden again. Volunteers, members of the Sustainability Team and James Hallybone from Roundfield have been discussing what to do for when the springtime arrives.

With the addition of a polytunnel to the site late last year the growing season has been significantly extended for us, on top of this we can look forward to starting to plant some varieties that we would have previously been unable to in the local climate and get much better yield from plant like tomatoes and cucumbers that appreciate a little bit of extra warmth.

As we look to the start of 2013 though the first major project we will undertake is the planting of a ‘forest garden.’ Forest gardening is a method adapted from tropical regions in the 1960s for temperate climates whereby the garden is planted to mimic the ecosystem of a forest. The idea is that it creates a low-maintenance garden with yields of fruit, herbs, vegetables and nuts that can be harvested throughout the year.

Here we have the first designs created by Roundfield for the forest garden:

Forest garden Plans

The Forest Garden Plans at Avery Hill

Forest Garden Key

Forest Garden Key

Sustainability at Greenwich in 2012

As work gets under way in 2013 we take a moment to look back on 2012 and see what the University of Greenwich has achieved in the last 12 months by looking back at some of the highlights of the year. So in chronological order:

Green Week & Fairtrade Fortnight

Avery Hill Green Week fayre

The Dome at Avery Hill plays host to Green Week

February and March was action packed with Green Week and Fairtrade Fortnight giving everyone at the university a chance to find out more about sustainability and how they can get more involved at home and at the university.

ISO14001 Accreditation

In March our sustainability management system was accredited with the ISO14001 international standard. This was a huge achievement for a lot of staff working in the Facilities Management department and recognition for work that had been ongoing for a couple of years.

Community Garden


Harvest from the Community Garden

In April we started work on the community garden at the Avery Hill Campus. It has been a tremendous first year and the garden is now well and truly starting to take shape with a polytunnel, shed, rainwater harvesting and a harvest of fruit and veg with the biggest parsnips and pumpkins I have ever seen. A huge amount of help has come from the volunteers and with a forest garden planting session planned for early this year it is going to continue to grow and flourish.

Emily Joins the Sustainability Team

In April last year we were blessed with a new team member as Emily Crockford (now Mason) joined us from the University of Kent. Emily has been a great asset to the team working really hard to get the Carbon Culture tool up and running and has been instrumental in the development of the community garden.

1st in the People & Planet Green League

The 28th May was a proud day for the University of Greenwich as we topped the People and Planet Green League for 2012. This was a reflection on the hard work that has been taking place across the university for a number of years and continued progress on sustainability projects across campus. We were absolutely delighted with the result especially considering that we were positioned 103rd in the same league table just three years ago!

Sustainability Awards

We celebrated the end of the academic year with our annual sustainability awards. A brilliant year for sustainability at the university capped with an enormous effort from our sustainability champions who tripled the number of Green Impact tasks completed to over 1500 and 8 departments ended up receiving the Gold Award whereas only one managed this the previous year.

The Meridian Envirobin

Meridian Envirobin

Meridian Envirobin

A partnership between the University of Greenwich and Leafield Environmental resulted in the Meridian Envirobin. A brand new concept for recycling by designing a bin to encourage the end users to recycle more and throw less into the not-recyclable waste stream. The bin has now been installed at the Avery Hill and Medway Campuses and although we are still waiting for the official figures from our waste contractor we are noticing a rise in the recycling rates on those two campuses.

Carbon Savings

A lot of work going on across the university is starting to pay off as the University’s carbon emissions have begun to fall. The introduction of the Carbon Culture Tool is a particularly exciting development and one that will hopefully lead to further savings in 2013 but the stars of the show our the photovoltaic solar panels on the Avery Hill Campus which exceeded expectations and generated 46,796 kWh in their first 12 months bringing the payback period under 10 years.

Organic Cocoa Farming in Bahia

As regular readers will know,  Serena who is one of our students who helps lead the community garden project made the most of her summer learning more about permaculture and sustainable agriculture and writes about the second part of her summer experience before returning to study for the 2nd year of her part time MSc in Sustainable Environmental Management with the Natural Resources Institute here at the university.  Over to you Serena… 

During the month of September I have been travelling through the region of Bahia in Brazil and worked as a wwoofer in the organic farm Fazienda Santa Tereza, located in the Mata Atlantica jungle, between Itacaré and Serra Grande, southern Bahian coast. This region is widely known for the production of cacao – which is specifically the reason why I chose to wwoof  here! 

Fazienda Santa Tereza

Cocoa beans are considered “super food” because they contain many beneficial nutrients known for promoting healthy mood and positive mental state such as serotonin, dopamine and phenylethylamine; they are also one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants. Ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations highly valued cocoa beans as a source of energy and used them as money. 

Fazenda Santa Tereza is a 34 hectare property where agroforestry and permaculture principles are practiced; alongside cocoa, many other products are successfully grown: such as acai, citrus, mango, bananas, pineapple, coconut, vanilla, cupuaçu (a fruit related to cacao) and also seringueira (the tree rubber comes from) together with other local fruits such as jenipapo. The owner of the farm, Mathieu, is also allowing some parts of the property to return to native Mata Atlantica. 

pineapple plant

ripening mango

The cocoa tree is not an easy plant to grow, indeed it requires precise climatic conditions and it will grow only in a very warm, moist, shady environment, being also very susceptible to pests and disease; in addition, a tree must be five or six years old before it will bear fruit. 

ripening cocoa fruit - not ready!

cocoa tree bearing fruit

Cocoa beans are the seeds of a yellow, rugby ball-shaped fruit that sprouts directly from the trunk of the cacao tree. Pods don’t all ripen at the same time and must be removed individually by hand, using machetes or large knives, taking care not to hurt nearby buds. 

harvesting cocoa pods

opening the fruit

Once opened, the pod contains about 40 cocoa beans covered in a sticky, white, delicious sweet lemony flavour pulp – while the actual bean is bitter and hard to eat. Beans are scooped out to be fermented and dried, this process takes from two to eight days. 

cocoa beans inside the pod

cocoa beans left to dry

Fazienda Santa Tereza produces delicious handmade dark chocolate and one day I happily volunteered to make some: first we warmed up the cocoa beans on the stove to remove the skin 

removing the skin - great smell!

We left the beans to warm up in the sun and reach a proper temperature and become soft: 

cocoa beans, warming up!

Cocoa beans were then ground to achieve a nice powdery consistence 

grinding cocoa beans!

…a little bit of sugar and honey are added and mixed using this very sophisticated piece of modern technology (heavy work!!!), banging for about 45 minutes: 

working the chocolate

until a very fine and smooth – almost liquid! – texture was achieved and the (very!) dark chocolate was ready … shiny and delicious! 

job done! yummy!

One of the main tasks at the Fazienda was the creation a suitable micro-environment around the trunks of the one-year-old cocoa trees which Mathieu had transplanted about a month ago. First we got rid of the weeds around the trunk using a hoe (also to break up soil compaction) whilst being careful not to damage the roots. 

clearing the weeds (hard work!!)

The soil here has a high content of clay and is therefore very hard to work with, which is the reason why it is important to add large quantities of organic matter– in this case pot ash and leaf mold. 

After weeding, we placed some old logs around the base of the tree: in fact there is plenty of spare old wood whitin the Fazienda’s forest! Wood will slowly rot down with the help of beneficial fungus, bacteria and micro organisms, which will break down and release the nutrients into the soil – carbon in particular – also offering ground cover, preventing nutrients from being washed away, and shelter to beneficial animals. 

frog - perfectly camouflaged

some useful wildlife, having a feast!

a millepede - loving rotten wood

Around and in between the logs we sowed few leguminose beans seeds: they will fix nitrogen with the action of the bacteria living in their roots and function as green manure/living mulch. On top of the logs, we placed large amounts of hay, which will help retain both moisture and temperature while also suppressing weeds and protecting the soil structure. 

placing the logs around cocoa trees

job done: final touch of mulch - hay

..some other common wildlife hanging around in the jungle..

With the help of a GPS, one day we carried out a survey to establish the presence of native vanilla within the property of the Fazienda – this census will eventually lead to the creation of a database of organic vanilla plants in this area of Bahia; each species of vanilla was identified and measured. 

vanilla census!

The vanilla plant is a tropical vine, which can reach over one hundred feet; it belongs to the orchid family but it is the only one that produces an agriculturally valuable crop. 

the vanilla vine

Unfortunately almost 90% of the vanilla flavour we find in our food today has been created by the addition of ingredients containing synthetic vanillin. 

dried vanilla pods

During my experience as a wwoofer I also had the chance to visit Comunitade Campina, an ecovillage located in the beautiful settings of Vale do Capao, Chapada Diamantina. Since 1998 the people from the community successfully practice principles of permaculture and forest gardening. 

the mandala garden

Cassava is a major staple food

the wormery - nice home for the earthworms!

the seed bank - to exchange seeds!

and a very sustainable juice maker!

Freshers Fairs at the University of Greenwich

Last week saw the University of Greenwich welcome thousands of new students to the university, and of course the Sustainability Team was on hand to say hello. At the Avery Hill and Greenwich campuses freshers were treated to a festival atmosphere, with music, food and stands from various different university partners, student services, charities and university departments. The Sustainability Team were there with a wide range of opportunities for new students to get involved with and a lot of information for the students that were interested in how their university had tackled the issues of sustainability.

Avery Hill Fresher's Fair

The Sustainability Stand at the Avery Hill Fresher's Fair

One of the biggest draws to our stand was the display of fruit and vegetables that had been harvested from our community garden that morning – particular the enormous pumpkins that shadowed the pile of lollipops on the next door stand! Students signed up to the sustainability team mailing list to find out news and information from the team, opportunities for getting involved with the garden, volunteering and work placements where they can skill themselves up for life after university.


Our pumpkins!

There was a particularly large focus of interest from the students on a few new opportunities we have available this year. There is the ‘Halls Champions’ project where students will be able to sign up their flat to compete in a green league table and try to be the ‘greenest’ by completing tasks to reduce their negative environmental impact and encourage positive behavior. The project is based on the same model as the Green Impact project whereby staff encourage and promote sustainability at a local level and work through tasks in a workbook. Similarly students will go through the workbook and implement positive environmental change in their flats, this is aimed to increase energy efficiency, recycling rates and engage the residents with sustainability in a fun and exciting way! The rewards will be plenty, not only will the students be able to save money on their energy bills but they will also get the chance to win prizes and get to attend events and workshops with their peers.

Emily Promoting the Virtues of the Sustainability Team at Greenwich

Emily promoting the virtues of the Sustainability Team at Greenwich

There were plenty more placements on offer as well – students can apply for internships such as the ‘Fairtrade Intern’, ‘Crowd Sourcing Intern’ or ‘Green Impact Project Assistant.’ The full list of opportunities is available at this link:

All the students that signed up at the Freshers Fairs will have their names entered into a hat, the first names to be drawn will win a jar of campus honey and a bottle of fine sparkling English wine. A prize certainly not to be sniffed at and will provide the winner with a little taste of some fine local produce!

August Progression in the Community Allotment

Our community garden at the Avery Hill campus continues to progress and expand! We now have a beautiful shed where we keep our tools:

painting the shed!

Over the course of the last few week some of the Brassicas crops were badly attacked by nasty cabbage caterpillars. These are often found in large clusters and are easily spotted thanks to their distinctive yellow and black patterns (they can grow up to 2 inches!). Plants should be examinated regularly to prevent the damage or gown under fine mesh netting to stop butterflies laying eggs. Beneficial wasps are particularly effective at controlling these pests, or else they can be picked off by hand. Unfortunately we had to remove some badly damaged plants, such as cabbage and radishes.

leaf damage from cabbage caterpillars

radishes were cleared - because damaged by caterpillars

In the meantime, all of the cucurbits are growing particularly vigorous, they require a lot of space and therefore are expanding out of the bed:

cucurbitaceae family bed

The resuts are some delicious courgettes, pumpkins and squashes coming in different varieties and shapes:

growing courgette

discovering a massive squash hidden among the leaves!

very heavy!!

This summer the weather has been particularly wet and tomatoes and peppers have struggled but are now slowly ripening:

ripening tomatoes

shiny pepper

We also harvested our first carrot!

very long carrot (though a little bit pale!)

We also decided to experiment a bit and sow some peas where potatos and tomatoes used to be. In a rotation system, leguminosae plants (such as peas) follow the “heavy feeders” plants (such as tomatos) which use up a lot of the nutrients in the soil: peas roots in fact will fix nitrogen, promoting soil fertility. August is probably not ideal time to sow peas because they often struggle in cold wet soil – we might have to grow them under cloches. However we hope the weather will be relatively mild until October – just like last year – and even if the plants will not produce many pea pods, they will still function as green manure that improve soil fertility.

sowing peas

We also transplanted some young tiny leeks into another bed:

lifting the leeks cluster - they were closely spaced in this patch of soil

As a general rule, when transplanting young plants it is important to minimize root damage: for this reason we should always handle them by the leaves and try to keep as much soil on the roots as possible.

Pam transplanting the leeks

Before transplanting, we first made 6 inches deep holes, 8 inches apart in the bed; we watered well the group of leeks, these were then divided one by one with the help of a fork; each leek was dropped into a hole and watered in order for the soil to gently settle around the roots.

job done! after transplanting, wilting is common but plants will eventually recover

And finally, some beneficial wildlife: a hoverfly

tiny hoverfly checking on the pumpkins

4th July Work Day

While the summer struggles to settle in and the sun is very shy, our garden in Avery Hill is looking good and flourishing with vegetables! We finally see (and taste!) the results as we keep on harvesting the abundant products from the raised beds.

our beautiful garden!

The plants must feel slightly confused with all these weather extremes, with moments of sturdy sunny heat followed by long pouring rain: the rocket for example couldn’t resist and bolted we had to remove all the flowers!

the rocket flowers as they bolted

However some other plants are doing very well, such as the peas – looking gorgeous!

our pea bush!

lots of peas!

Radishes are growing full of flavour and massive in size

Jon with the radishes

Also the lettuces, Swiss chard and spinach are thriving with abundance in their beds; the brassicaceae (the Cabbage family) bed is also looking very happy with beautiful cabbages and lovely kale (the very Italian Cavolo Nero).

wonderful cabbage

In the meantime, the first tiny tomatoes, marrows and beans made their first appearance and are joyfully getting bigger (yummy!) I’m looking forward to taking my first bite!

tiny courgette growing

our first beans!

Last Wednesday we had a very nice full day of work and achieved big results. The toughest one was moving the mountain of compost from the upper side of the garden down to the compost area. This required a good amount of passion and muscle power, happily donated by our own very strong men James, Julian and Stefan.

While we were all working very hard, this tiny lost frog came to visit:

unexpected visitor

Other tasks involved clearing the beds from the weeds that had peeped out from the ground since last week – such as yarrow and fat hen. These are very common weeds that can grow spontaneously almost everywhere and – although can be annoying if you didn’t want them to be there – can be edible and useful. Fat hen for example tastes nice if eaten raw in salads or cooked in tasty risottos; yarrow flowers can be used in infusions against hay fever and are also important source of food for beneficial insects.

fat hen with radishes

scented yarrow flowers

We carried on transplanting some tomatoes seedlings in one of our solanaceae & cucurbitaceae beds (potato and cucumber families) where also courgettes and aubergine are now growing. We also planted giant sunflowers in the corners of different beds and next to their cousins the Jerusalem Artichokes. These sunflowers will soon look spectacularly tall and will make great companion plants as aphids love them and hopefully will hang about up there, leaving our lovely crops alone, for us to enjoy!

The favourite job of the day was to prune the tomato plants as the smell was so nice! Pruning tomatoes is very easy and extremely beneficial to the plant as it will increase fruit size and quality, while also reducing risks of diseases. The basic method of pruning is to remove the lower leaves at the bottom of the plant and the suckers that grow from the leaf axils, you do this by pinching them with your fingers every 7-10 days throughout the growing season.

the first tiny growing tomatoes!

The less pleasurable task instead was moving the stinky pile of organic matter (mostly grass residues) from the first compartment to the second one, this was bravely carried out by me and Stefan in turns. The key to make good compost is to use a mixture of ingredients: young, moist materials, such as grass clippings, known as “greens”, rot quickly resulting in an unbearable smelly sludge; this is why they need to be mixed with tougher, dry items like old bedding plants – “browns” which add the necessary fibre and a supply of air to give the compost a good structure. These can also be scrap papers and packaging like paper bags or cardboard for example – to provide a good balance. The compost area is one of the most important in a healthy garden. This is where organic matter is broken down by microorganisms and other little creatures, like worms and woodlice, which will provide our soil with all the nutrients our plants need.

the compost area

There is still a lot to do and to be enjoyed at the community garden so for those who want to practice their gardening skills or simply have a breath of fresh air on those working days, come along and join us! We are here every Wednesdays!

our very own special gardeners, Jon and Kat, checking on the vegetables

the gardener's best friend: a ladybird larvae

Sustainability Awards

Last week saw the University of Greenwich celebrate its Sustainability Awards for the second year running – the awards bring together staff, students, volunteers and outside organisations that have helped the University in the world of sustainability over the last 12 months.  This year’s event had an extra bit of sheen as the University was also celebrating coming top in the People & Planet University Green League Table published in the Guardian newspaper.

Following requests from the sustainability champions we decided to create a whole day’s worth of events and really give those that had been involved over the last 12 months an experience where they would be able to enjoy themselves, learn something new and feel empowered and energised to take their sustainability efforts to the next level. In the morning we invited the sustainability champions to the lawn at Southwood House where we separated into two groups and headed off to one of two workshops.

Jennifer leads the first group on a forage of Avery Hill

One workshop took the champions on a short walk around the campus led by Jennifer Patterson, from the School of Education, to see what could be foraged from the hedgerows on site. We found a multitude of different plants, some with medicinal qualities and others that fell under the category of ‘tasting good!’ We found marsh mallow Althaea officinalis, red clover Trifolium pratense, elderflower sambucus, fat-hen Chenopodium album and white deadnettle Lamium album among the bushes and hedgerows, some of which made it into a delicious salad prepared for lunch!

The other workshop was led by James Hallybone from Roundfield, who have been designing our community garden, to create a ‘showcase’ raised bed made out of willow and planted with perennial fruits and herbs. Starting with a pile of willow sticks, enormous piles of compost and soil and a few small plants the results by the end of the day were spectacular and a sign of how hard the sustainability champions had worked during the workshops!

James points to the soil and exclaims, 'Make me a raised bed!'

The finished raised bed

Lunch followed, with a delicious spread laid out by Sodexdo, including the foraged flowers, herbs and salad leaves picked in the morning. At this point we were joined by many more members of staff from the University, from members of the senior management team, that we have worked with to secure funds and get agreement and support for university wide projects, members of the Student’s Union, who we will be aiming to help achieve a first Green Impact Student’s Unions award, and staff and students who have been involved in projects from the ISO14001 accreditation to the community garden and everything in between.

Our delicious menu for the day

After lunch we headed out of the sunshine and into the David Fussey building where the Sustainability Team gave a short ‘Prezi’ on what it had taken to get to the top of the Green League and what could almost be described as a sustainability call to arms from Deputy Vice Chancellor Neil Garrod. Neil was looking to impassion and inspire those that were in the room to focus their efforts on sustainability and not to give up or rest on their laurels after the successes of the past few months.

Lunch under the 'marquee'

The awards presentation followed with the sustainability champions collecting awards for each of their departments (see list below for who won what) and a few special awards for people who had been driving sustainability in particular or specialist areas over the course of the year. One award which deserves a special mention is the ‘Environmental Hero’ award for the person who has gone above and beyond the call of duty and really pushed sustainability. This year the winner was Caroline Troy from the NRI who completed more tasks in the Green Impact workbook than anyone else for a second year running, was the only sustainability champion to complete the Laboratories section of the workbook and had also been working hard with the carbon management team to re-vamp the glasshouses on the Medway campus making them much more energy efficient!

Following the awards we had a presentation from Luke Nicholson of Carbon Culture to show some of the pioneering work they have been doing with government departments to encourage behaviour change and deliver carbon savings. The group of champions, staff and students then worked together to come up with ideas and challenges that we could focus on in the next 12 months – giving us a good way to round up the session that had celebrated looking back by looking forward and picking off some of the sustainability actions and targets for next year!

Green Impact Awards:
Working Towards Accreditation:
Procurement (Ian Husson)
Greenwich Facilities Management (Caroline Churchill)
Architecture, Design & Construction (Gesche Heubner)
Computing & Mathematical Sciences (Guy Penwill)
School of Education (Yana Tainsh)
School of Engineering (Ian Cakebread)
Office of Finance (Yuri Panton)
Greenwich Research & Enterprise (Lara Everest)
Vice Chancellor’s Office (Miriam Lakin)
Accommodation Office (Heather Lilliman)
School of Business (Mary McCartney)
Central Facilities Management (John Bailey)
Guidance & Employability Team (Ed Paxton)
Human Resources (Anna Radley)
Medway ILS (Karen Worden & Lynn Finnemore)
Medway Student Centre (Angela Ware)
Planning & Statistics (Karl Molden)
Recruitment & Admissions (April Moore)
Avery Hill Student Centre (Amanda Cappuccio)
Student Helpline (Helene Pirsch)
Welfare & Student Support (Sherry Hosein)
Health & Social Care – Psychology (Jim Demetree)
Office of Student Affairs – Executive (Norma Powell)
Alumni, Public Relations & Communications (Vicky Noden)
Medway Facilities Management (John Bisbrown)
Avery Hill ILS (Carol Rostek)
Marketing (Fiona Bradley)
Student Finance (Amanda Hatton)
Student Records (Julian Murphy)
Student Records Systems (Sophie Clements)
Platinum & Labs:
Natural Resources Institute (Caroline Troy)
Special Awards:
Student Participation – Sarah Sheikh, Mary McCartney & Business School
Team Award – Avery Hill Porters
Lance Armstrong Award for Cycling – Simon Earp & Neil Garrod
Carbon Reduction Award – Nigel Heugh & Building Services Team
Education for Sustainability Award – Jennifer Patterson
Volunteer of the Year – Linda Marie Schroyen
Championing Biodiversity Award – Chris Powner
Creative Communications Award – Vicky Noden
Positive Deviant Award – Ian Cakebread
Innovation Award – Jim Demetree
Green Transport Award – Guidance & Employability Team
Unsung Hero Award – Sue
Team Award – Portering Team
Hosepipe Ban Award – Grounds Team
Department of the Year – Office of Student Affairs
Environmental Hero Award:
Caroline Troy