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Grassroots Campus Sustainability at Roseworthy

Sep 18, 2019

From vacant space to beautiful self-sustaining edible garden. This is a story of an Eden recreated through partnership and recycling; a community collaboration between the University of Adelaide students, Roseworthy residents and Programmed grounds staff.

Early seeds of transformation were sown when a group of veterinary medicine students at the University of Adelaide sought to encourage other fellow students to adopt healthier lifestyles, more sustainable practices, and reduce wastage.

These germinated and seedlings of hope sprouted when their idea for a garden at Roseworthy campus that would inspire the wider community to share in these key values won them a grant from Ecoversity, the university’s sustainability engagement program.

But to bring the garden into fruition, the students needed a partner who could help them achieve their vision through real, practical solutions; they turned to Programmed Property Services.

As the university’s current grounds maintenance provider, Programmed’s familiarity of the Roseworthy site, proved to be a great asset, especially when coupled with our horticultural knowledge and expertise.  Working hand-in-hand with the group to understand their motivations, Branch Manager Martin Crabb was able to use his understanding of the university grounds and knowledge culled from other projects at the Roseworthy campus to expand and develop their ideas, and bring them to life.

To reflect the commitment to healthier lifestyles, “we introduced olive and lemon trees which students could pick, along with capsicum, chili plants, lettuce, and other fresh produce that could easily go from garden to table,” Martin said.

“We also upcycled many different products, rocks, barrels, concrete planters, and a host of other things from around the various campuses, and repurposed them, which was another really important part of what the students wanted to achieve,” Martin added.

Unused bikes have reincarnated into art installations, while harmful non-native wildlife was kept at bay by recycled old fencing. The local Roseworthy community also donated many other materials, all of which has found a new use in contributing to life within the garden.

The taste of early success is sweet. Already a number of students are harvesting fruits and vegetables from the garden for their meals and salads. Students that have never gardened before are getting involved in caring for the garden as well. Planting of winter vegetables was well underway at the beginning of the season.

Thanks to the success of the partnership between Programmed and the student group, word of the garden is starting to spread beyond the university’s borders, with a number of students posting pictures of the stunning flowering plants on Instagram.

The proudest moment for Programmed was reaching the students’ ultimate aim of strengthening the sense of community on campus, an achievement that will last long after the students have graduated.

“I think the great thing about a community garden is the way it builds relationships … I was really delighted when I came up a few weeks ago to see some students and teachers sitting in the garden having conversations about what the space is all about, and how it’s bringing an experience which they didn’t have before to campus life,” Martin said.

The Roseworthy campus is home to South Australia’s only veterinary school and veterinary teaching hospital. With the campus’ international reputation for excellence in dryland agriculture, natural resource management and animal production as well as a history that harks back to 1883 as Australia’s first agricultural college, such a garden seems aptly suited to the site.

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