UCAS staff learning to ‘grow their own'

Company: UCAS

Staff at UCAS have been given the chance to grow their own fruit and vegetables on a purpose-built allotment in the grounds of its headquarters (Rosehill) in Cheltenham.

A plot has been cleared; eleven separate raised beds built and a shed and equipment put in place so staff can sample the benefits of growing their own produce.

A compost heap means that all food waste from the building can now be recycled.

The allotment group - named You Grow - has attracted members from across the organization.

‘National Gardening Week’ which runs until 21 April this year in the UK, offers the perfect opportunity for staff to think about the benefits of gardening and growing produce.

Seven of the eleven plots have been snapped up by eager gardeners - by the end of this week every plot is expected to be taken.

Staff have planted potatoes, Japanese onions and garlic, and have already harvested a successful crop of Jerusalem artichokes. A communal herb garden (pictured) is also flourishing, with sage, lavender and mint.

Jovita Milanes, Health and Safety Environmental Advisor at UCAS said: “We were keen to give staff, including those without the space at home, the opportunity to grow their own food. People get a lot of pleasure from knowing that they’ve grown and nurtured something from seed, not to mention the cost saving and health benefits. UCAS is also very committed to the environment - the allotment helps staff improve their carbon footprint and is a welcome addition to our lovely pond and listed trees.”

Jean Chatlelain, Chair of You Grow said: “The idea started as a simple suggestion at a social meeting. It was carried forward and has since gone really well with staff. My garden at home is shady so having a plot in a sunny garden is really great, garlic grows brilliantly. Gardening is a great way to de-stress at lunch time and after work.”

UCAS also has a wildlife pond at its headquarters, which is very popular with local primary school children who come for educational sessions in pond-dipping each year. There are also a number of listed trees.

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