Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Students Working for Sustainability and Festive Cheer

This week the Sustainability Team has been finding a little bit of time in between eating mince pies and chocolates to consider the opportunities we have for students working in the Sustainability Office. We met Sarah Sheikh from the Business School, who has been encouraged by Mary McCartney (Business School Sustainability Champion), to find out what we have within the Sustainability Team for students to get involved in.

As usual the Sustainability Team is looking for students to become involved in all sorts of projects relating to a multitude of different subjects. The first position we are offering through the Business School is the position of Fairtrade Intern. With Fairtrade Fortnight coming up in February and March next year there is loads of Fairtrade fun to get involved with and great opportunity for a student to get experience in running events, project management, communications, administration, charity sector work and of course trying out all the latest Fairtrade products - whether it is chocolate, bananas or cotton buds! Sarah will be inviting Business School students to make an application to the role and if you are the lucky chosen student you will get a chance to really get involved and help influence the University's policies and delivery of Fairtrade events.

Naomi Debrah the 2010/11 Fairtrade Intern
The Sustainability Team will not be stopping there though! We have many more opportunities within the team for all sorts of different things, just last week Stuart Ashenden  in the School of Engineering recruited a student to start auditing the University's water usage, following on from previous projects completed by students on the University's energy use and travel. We currently have a couple of students working with Debbie Bartlett in the School of Science on the biodiversity projects going on across the campuses, you may remember Michael Fray providing us with some excellent bee photos while conducting a bee survey at Avery Hill: and recently Charmaine Wijemanna presented to the Biodiversity Steering Group on a pioneering new project developing the University's Campus Management Plan: At the School of Education the students training to be teachers are currently implementing sustainability projects in the schools where they are completeing their placement.
Isabelle Monk collecting for the end-of-term Re-use Project
The Sustainability Team is always keen to make the best use of the amazing resource we have within the student population and we have loads more opportunities whether it is with Fairtrade, biodiversity, waste, communications, event management, water, energy, video making....... anyway you get the picture! Thinking back over the last year the Sustainability Team has been greatly supported by student interns who have all now gone on to graduate and find employment, often with a bit of support from the Sustainability Team as well. Naomi Debrah was our most recent Fairtrade intern, a great personality during Green Week this year and instrumental in gaining the University Fairtrade status. Stefano Maggi has gone onto work for an Australian radio station after being the driving force behind the communications of Green Week, Catherine Brown and Keir Burrows have both found work after helping us with our environmental management system and Isabelle Monk who worked on the end-of-year Re-use scheme went on to get a job in the charity sector and now works at ATD Fourth World.

As well as asking for some new student interns this Christmas we have also noticed that Santa has been starting to consider his environmental impact and the carbon footprint of his work. Ethical Ocean have had a go at measuring Santa's carbon footprint for him:

And Santa also got Futerra to compile an end of year sustainability report for him. 
If you are considering how you can have a green Christmas you may want to check out how to 'upcycle' a Christmas tree: 
Whatever you are doing this Christmas the Sustainability Team wish you a very merry holiday season and a happy new year:

Friday, 9 December 2011

Launch of Team Greenhouse at the Mansion Site

On Wednesday afternoon the Avery Hill Mansion Site took a huge step towards a more sustainable future as the School of Education launched a new group to integrate sustainability into the School's practises. The group which has been launched by Mark Potter, the School's sustainability champion and Yana Tainsh, the Director of Resources, is named 'Team Greenhouse' and its inaugural meeting brought together 15 members of the School's staff.

Team Greenhouse listen with enthusiasm at the inaugral meeting

Chris Philpott the Dean of the School gave an opening address, proclaiming the School's ambitions to move forward on the subject of sustainability and to integrate it not just into the working practises of the school but into the teaching and research elements as well. Yana and Mark both explained how the group was going to work and invited the other members of staff to fully immerse themselves in the implementation of the Green Impact workbook. The School have set out to achieve the Bronze award of the Green Impact workbook but will be keeping an eye on the Silver tasks and starting a few of them as well. The Green Gnome is predicting that they will be getting themselves the Silver award as well this year!

The spirits were high amongst the group and there was a big sense of enthusiasm to get started with the tasks in the Green Impact workbook - so much so that the second meeting for Team Greenhouse is already lined up for next week! Here's a cheer for Team Greenhouse - Huzzah! - and we are looking forward to seeing what innovative ideas they come up with over the coming months.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Guest Blog: Recycling Helping Alleviate Student Hardship

Today, Vicky Noden, Alumni Officer for the University of Greenwich, sustainability champion and keen runner writes a guest blog entry about an initiative that not only helps students in hardship but has a brilliant sustainability twist as well!

Vicky Noden - Alumni Officer and Sustainability Champion
The School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences (CMS) staff and students have been helping those in need of support at the university reducing waste! The CMS School Office has been recycling and fundraising by collecting donations in exchange for second-hand stationery items. All the funds raised have been donated to the Alumni Fund to help support Greenwich students in financial difficulty.

The CMS School Office had a surplus of used items such as folders and ring binders, which were in good condition, and felt that they should be reused rather than simply thrown away. Their students snapped up the items, in exchange for a small donation, thereby saving them money on new stationery.

The initiative has raised £52 to help alleviate student hardship. This money alone could be enough to help enable several Greenwich students to carry on studying. Some students need a small bursary of just £10-£30 to see them through an emergency and to prevent them from having to miss lessons, or even drop out altogether. Students who have benefited from the fund in the past include:
· A student who had their wallet stolen and had no money to get home
· Several students whose student bursaries/loans were not paid on time, leaving them unable to buy food
· A student who was the victim of online credit card fraud

We also have some very serious cases of students who have to flee their homes as a result of racial or domestic abuse. This fund also supports these individuals during desperate times and helps them to keep on studying.

A number of small contributions from students is helping to make a huge difference to the lives of others in our community. The CMS School Office has been specifically thanked for supporting the fund and it is wonderful that this also helps the university’s sustainability agenda. We are hoping this initiative may inspire other teams in the university to support others that are in need of help here at Greenwich.

Any other departments or offices in the university considering a similar fundraising initiative should contact Vicky in the Alumni and Development Office on 020 8331 7940 or e-mail

If you would like further information on what Vicky does for the Alumni Office, visit click on “Support Us” or contact the Alumni and Development Office directly.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

New Orchard at Avery Hill

Today staff, students, local residents, graduates, friends, family, children and a member of parliament came together to plant a community orchard at the University of Greenwich. At Avery Hill Campus a huge group of volunteers (and a couple of experts from the London orchard Project) took a break from their regular working day to get their hands dirty and plant one of 20 fruit trees in the new community orchard.

The orchard will be supplying staff, students and local residents with a tasty array of fruit (apples, pears, medlar, plums, cherries, damsons, mulberries) for coming decades! It has come as a result of a partnership between the University and the London Orchard Project, who are creating new community orchards in London’s unused spaces to promote community production and ownership of fruit. Plus of course helping us rediscover the pleasures of eating fruit grown close to home (or work). These community orchards are contributing towards the ‘greening’ of the urban environment and are creating new and enhanced habitats for wildlife – especially true at Avery Hill where the orchard will be surrounded by long grass and wildflowers which will be great for encouraging bees, insects and the predators of pests such as aphids and codling moths.
A dozen spades prepare for the digging

The orchard planting is part of a wider University push to improve and enhance the biodiversity on campus and promote local food. The majority of trees have been chosen to fruit during University term time and after three years some of the apple trees will be producing about 300 apples per crop. Students at Avery Hill will never need to buy an apple again!

Russell from the London Orchard Project teaching the volunteers how to plant a fruit tree

Claire Evenden, who came with her colleagues from the Student Records, planted an apple tree called a ‘Fiesta’, said she was looking forward to watching the tree grow from her window in the Bronte building.

Paulina Bush from the University of Greenwich nursery came along with a dozen children who planted two of the apple trees (Discovery and Pinova) with the spades they normally use for maintaining their forest garden. Paulina said that the children would be coming back to the orchard regularly to water the trees and of course help harvest the fruit as well!

The volunteers digging away and planting the trees
 The plan is not to stop at just an orchard either. Close to the orchard we have a space on the Southwood Site where work is about to commence on a community allotment and forest garden, with plans for a nut orchard (or is that a nuttery?), a vineyard and hops also being considered for future food growing projects. Of course if you would like to find out more about any of the food growing projects or indeed get involved with the allotment and forest garden please email us at:

Here is a complete list of the 20 fruit trees planted on campus today:
1. Egremont Russet. Late Victorian English variety, most important commercial Russet, a hardy variety with a nutty, sweet flavour ripe in late September. Originated in Sussex in the early 1800s.
2. Falstaff. Very good disease and frost resistance, crisp and juicy red desert apple, ripe late September
3. Tydeman's Late Orange. Variety raised in 1930s in Kent, rich aromatic flavour, firm and sweet, orange to red in colour, picking time mid October. A cross between a Laxton Superb and a Cox Orange Pippin, but a lot easier to grow than a Cox Orange Pippin. Picking time mid-October
4. Tentation. New variety, yellow to golden fruit, picking time late September and stores until March
5. Greensleaves. Green to yellow mid-season apple, tasting a bit like a Golden Delicious, picking time mid-September. We think this apple is essential due to the Henry VIII theme it shares with the campus buildings. Fruits mid-September.
6. Fiesta. Another Cox-like apple but hardier. Heavy cropping with brightly coloured, aromatic fruits, picking time early October.
7. Pinova. A hardy tree with Cox and Golden Delicious as parents. The fruit hangs late on the tree and stores well. Harvesting time late September.
8. Discovery. Bright red, crisp, juicy with a sharp fresh flavour. This is an early apple (early August) so will provide fruit for staff/ any students on campus over the summer.
9. Bramley's seedling. The classic British cooker, grown from seed in a garden in Nottingham, the original tree is 200 years old and still going strong. Creamy white flesh, full of flabour – though there are alternative cookers if you want something more unusual. Also makes lovely sharp juice.
10. Howgate Wonder. A cooker that can also be eaten/ juiced when fully ripe. Pale green with brown-red flush, fruits early October.
11. Doyenne du Comice. French pear grown from seed, first fruiting in 1849. Reached England in 1858 and soon became very popular for its delicious flavour and jucy texture. Picking mid-October.
12. Williams Bon Chretien. Pears known to the Romans, considered by the best pear in the 16th century. Raised by a schoolmaster in Aldermarston near Reading in 1770. Needs to be eaten off the tree in September as does not store.
13. Concorde. A reliable, heavy cropper with melting, juicy flesh. Picking time late October.
Plums and other stone fruit:
14. Marjorie’s Seedling. Excellent late plum (picking time late September). Oval-shaped purple fruit with yellow flesh.
15. Victoria. A classic plum, discovered in a garden in Sussex and named after Queen Victoria. Picking time is August so another fruit for staff and summer-students to enjoy.
16. Shropshire Damson. A hardy damson with some plum-like characteristics. Best used for cooking and has a rich flavour but can also be eaten from the tree if left to ripen. Picking time late August / early September.
17. Cherry Early Rivers. One of the earliest cherries, with very dark skin and flesh, and excellent flavour. Produces a heavy crop, ready for picking in mid-June.
18. Cherry Stella. Juicy dark-red cherries, ready for picking in late July. Fruiting time isn’t ideal for students but it does make a good pollinator for other cherries.
Other fruit:
19. Medlar. A beautiful, squat and spreading tree with attractive blossom. It is also interesting from heritage perspective, being popular in the middle ages and mentioned by Chaucer as being “ripe when rotten”. Picking time is November and the fruits should then be left to decay (blet) before turning soft and sweet.
20. Black Mulberry. A large stately tree that will grow to form gnarled branches and a distinctive form. The fruit is delicious and almost never commercially available. Said to have been introduced in the 16th Century in the mistaken belief that black mulberries harbour silk worms. (In fact silk worms live on white mulberry trees.)