A pioneering collaborative project, involving Loughborough University, the Students’ Union and the local community, has won the Sustainability Project prize at this year’s Guardian University Awards.
The project – Eat Your Campus – aims to develop the University’s green spaces as a food resource for staff, students and members of the local community, creating an ‘edible landscape’.
The Guardian University Awards, announced last night (26 February), celebrate working projects in universities that demonstrate genuine innovation in the sector, collaborative delivery on the ground, meaningful impact both inside the universities and beyond, and have the potential to inspire others. The Sustainability Project award recognises an initiative that creates and champions a more sustainable living and working environment in the university and beyond.
Established last year, Eat Your Campus is an umbrella project that brings together two key initiatives – the University’s Fruit Routes venture and the work of the Students’ Union’s Landscaping and Gardening Society (LAGS). It was born out of a creative project to encourage artists to engage with the University grounds and sustainability issues.
Eat Your Campus was launched to facilitate the planting of fruit and nut trees and plants along path ways on campus, to provide an enriched habitat for people, insects and animals, as well as a location for cultural activities and outdoor learning. Realisation that the new planting would also bring an abundance of fresh fruits and berries that could be harvested led to the establishment of the Eat Your Campus project.
The initiative is delivered in a number of ways, including tree planting sessions, harvesting events, apple pressings, seed exchanges and skill-sharing workshops. It is supplemented by periodic arts events that reinforce the sustainability and food foraging themes.
Since Eat Your Campus began, 76 trees, 25 fruit bushes and 285 hedgerow whips, all of which have been sourced from local suppliers, have been planted on campus.
“We’re delighted to have won this prestigious national award for Eat Your Campus,” said Jo Shields, the University’s Sustainability Manager. “The project really does epitomise the collaborative ethos on campus. It involves a real mix of people – local families, students, graduates and University staff – and I’d like to thank all those who’ve been involved to date.
“The longer term aims of the project are twofold – for the expanded planting to save the campus money in terms of its catering, with the University able to source some of its food from its own campus, and to create a legacy for generations to come. So this award has given us a timely boost to push us on toward sour ultimate goals!”