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For over a year now, all administration, teaching and seminars at the Department of Land Economy have taken place virtually. It’s been a challenging time to keep sustainability at the forefront of our minds but initiatives focused around biodiversity, wellbeing and more, have helped keep momentum up!

As part of Green Impact, the University’s sustainable behaviour change programme, I have been reaching out to Land Economy staff with a Green Gardening edition of our weekly Wellbeing email. Whether it’s advice on caring for the many re-homed houseplants from the Department, seasonal gardening tips and suggestions, or recipes to use the fruit, herbs and vegetables people grow at home, I try to make gardening, sustainable food and being outdoors fun for all!

I’ve shared some extracts from early 2021 emails below but currently we’re all focused on a giant sunflower growing competition! It’s simple, fun, and anyone can join in if they have outside space (even just a balcony). Staff have been either requesting seeds from me or planting their own. Judging/measuring will be held later in the summer but for now we’re enjoying everyone’s photos of their seedlings reaching for the sky!

To chit or not to chit?  A spud of a question!

One vegetable that is really easy to grow is the humble potato, and now is the time of year to get them “chitting”. I personally like to chit my pots in recycled egg boxes (another Haines family tradition) and grow them in the old rectangular council recycling boxes that aren’t used in the city anymore. This year I’m trying two new varieties: Rocket and Kestrel (because they look pretty).

They are cheap to buy (mine were £2.50 a bag) and a really good way to get children interested in gardening, especially when it comes to harvesting and cooking them later in the year. Everything you need to know about growing potatoes of all types is here.

And you don’t even need a vegetable patch, just use a bucket or other recycled materials, like old car tyres (if you have the space) or simply a sturdy plastic bag topped up gradually with compost.


Do you remember in my December edition that I said you can regrow onions and other vegetables from the scraps leftover when you cook?

Well ever the experimentalist I tried it and now have celery and onions regrowing in cups and jars on my kitchen windowsill.

A group of vases with yellow flowers on a window sillDescription automatically generated with low confidence

Sustainability is more than just the environment

The University and our Department have always taken the wellbeing of staff and students seriously, but it has gained even greater importance during the pandemic. Our Wellbeing Advocate, Pam, sends out a weekly Wellbeing Wednesday email to all staff packed with useful ideas and links to help people stay connected and to cope with the uncertainties of the pandemic. We’ve found that our online coffee breaks, annual January Step Challenge, the launch of a new virtual book club, online yoga sessions and even a bread-making workshop have all been a huge support to our community.

Looking to the future

Lockdown has also given us time to reflect on how we used our building before the pandemic, as well as how people have adapted during lockdown. We’re also keen to see whether there are any best practice ideas for energy, waste, travel and more than can be taken forward when we return. As part of our ongoing Green Impact efforts, we have conducted a survey measuring carbon footprints and hope to share our findings in the future as we look forward to Green Impact 2021-22.

Hopefully this taster of what we’ve been up to at Land Economy will encourage others across the University and if any of you have any tips and ideas for us, please do share on the University’s sustainability Yammer group!

Written by Lynda Haines