Green Lancaster Ecohub a success despite the weather

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LUSU’s Green Lancaster team held an event on Friday Week 4 to showcase the work it has done during the academic year so far, as well as promote its future projects. The event – held at Green Lancaster’s Ecohub, at the north of Alexandra Park – was attended by several high-profile guests, including the Lancaster University Vice Chancellor Professor Mark E. Smith.

The event included the planting of around 20 trees at the Ecohub. Pizzas were also made using the Ecohub’s new pizza oven. LUSU’s Environmental Projects Coordinator, Darren Axe, claimed that the event had “gone really well.”

“Everyone has… got stuck in to the tree planting event this morning,” Axe said. “Given the conditions I would give top marks to everyone.”

The morning of Friday Week 4 was marked by wet and windy weather, though despite this organisers said the event was well attended. Those involved in the event included the Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University, Professor Mark E. Smith, accompanied by several LUSU Full-Time Officers. Smith was shown around the Ecohub and took part in the tree planting exercise.

VP (Welfare and Community) and the Full-Time Officer responsible for environmental issues, Tom Fox said “we have also been planting some seeds and we also tested out the new pizza oven that we have got at the Ecohub, which is really great – the pizzas were very tasty.”

The organisation of the Ecohub is aided by around twenty student volunteers. Volunteers and student staff come along to the site every Wednesday and Friday during term time to manage the Ecohub. One volunteer, Paul Cambre, said: “We are really hoping to have a big plant [of trees and vegetables] this year. We’ve actually doubled the growing space at the site, so we’re hoping to get lots of students involved and get them growing loads of vegetables.” Another student volunteer, Agne Rimkute, said she hoped to make staff and students at Lancaster “more aware of environmental issues.”

Fox commended the number of student volunteers that were at the event. “It has been really good to see the impact it has had since when I saw it over the summer and this first term,” Fox said. “There is a difference to how [the Ecohub] looks and a difference in the number of volunteers we have got down here – this is the most volunteers we’ve ever had for Green Lancaster.”

The pizza oven was managed by Lancaster University’s Head Chef, Julian Ankers. Ankers is also helping with other Green Lancaster initiatives, including the Edible Campus project, which will see herbs and vegetables planted around campus. Ankers said “I think it is really important that we can show people what [the Ecohub] is growing and what we can do with what is grown. I think that is what people often struggle with – they grow things in their garden and then they don’t know what to do with it, so that is where my expertise will come in.”

Other members of University staff were in attendance. The University’s Landscape Manager Ian Sturzaker has said: “We have a biodiversity action plan for the landscape at the university and one of the actions within that is to look at increasing habitat potential and other items from a biodiversity point of view. Working with Green Lancaster has allowed us to do that: we’ve been planting trees and taking part in some woodland management with them as well.”

The event at the Ecohub is one of several Green Lancaster events that have taken place this academic year, with events in Alexandra Square to celebrate Halloween and Christmas taking place in Michaelmas term.

As well as the Edible Campus venture, Axe hinted at other future projects in the pipeline. Such initiatives include the ‘chicken project,’ which will see chickens introduced to a part of the Ecohub: “that’s going to need a lot of volunteers as [looking after the chickens] is a twice daily task,” Axe said. “That’s something we’ll be starting… at the end of Week 4 and we need a big team on that because we want to keep [the chickens] nice and healthy throughout the rest of this year.

“We’ve also planted the initial stage of an orchard with twenty trees… we’re installing a further 40 this week and next – it’s really going from strength to strength.”

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