Students grow their own food on campus to help reduce food miles

Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have launched the very first campus-based allotment with aims to produce their own sustainably grown food for staff and students to enjoy.

The student-led allotment is based on campus at Castle View and students aim to work with DMU Estates Head Gardner, Dan Kirk to produce food to eat themselves, sell to staff and students and donate to homeless people in the local area.

The project has been created by students from the ‘Envirogreen’ team, a group established during an Eco Café event, held by Sustainable DMU last year.


The Envirogreen team opening the new allotment

To celebrate the launch, students took part in a planting day event this week, which saw staff and students come together and take part in planting the first set of seeds, starting with a mixture of salad leaves and carrots.

Tarnjeet Kaur, Envirogreen Project Lead said: “Planting day is a very exciting day, it’s like a dream come true, when you work so hard for something and you are finally getting there because of hard work, that is what today is for the team.

“We have failed to get here many times before, it’s been more than a year with Covid setbacks and location changes, it’s been a struggle, but we have finally made it here to start planting."

She added: “For me, each failure is like a way to success and this project has really shown me that. Its so nice to be planting its like giving life to something we have been talking about for so long.

“I am so proud to be part of the first student team to help take this step and when I look back on my time at university I will be so proud to be part of this change and contributing towards making campus more sustainable.”

Planting day

Emily Brown, a member of the Envirogreen team was also full of happiness during the planting day event, she said: “It’s been a really long time coming and its amazing to actually be here and see it all happening. Its very surreal to actually be doing it after waiting so long.

“We will be plating every four weeks now, eating the produce ourselves and selling to staff and students to help encourage a more sustainable way of living.”

DMU Fashion student and Envirogreen member, Nayaab Mahomed has a number of plans for the allotment, including growing plants to produce sustainable dyes to be used on her fashion course.

She said: “We made it! It’s really amazing to finally be here, I am part of both societies that have collaborated on this project so I have tried to the bridge the gap between the two.

“After 18 months of waiting we are finally doing something tangible, its such a nice feeling.”

Nayaab M

She added: “I am personally very excited about the sub project of Envirogreen, ‘The Dye Garden’. We are going to be growing plants which are rich in pigment that will then be dehydrated and we can use it as a textile dye.

“This is really important to me, making fashion more sustainable, the textile industry is responsible for about 20% of water pollution in the world and I want to be part of something that help changes that.”

Karl Letten, DMU Sustainability Manager was also in attendance for the first day of planting, he said: “The enthusiasm of the student societies to get the project up and running has been fantastic.

“With the support and guidance of the Estates Grounds Maintenance team the project will provide a great space for students to grow their own fresh food.

“The project really shows how students are engaging with the university’s commitments around sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).”

Dan Kirk

The university is set to see further developments later this year as part of its policy to make campus greener alongside its existing projects including, a recent award win for its Hedgehog Friendly Campus initiative and the arrival of two new beehives to help improve biodiversity, which will work hand-in-hand with the allotment.

Posted on Thursday 7th April 2022

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