Project update – volunteers, garden tech and potting-up

A lot has been going on these passed few weeks at The Lions Gate.

Volunteer Lions

The Lions Gate flyer
The Lions Gate flyer

After putting up flyers for the project around all Napier campuses we’ve managed to get approximately 30 volunteers with very little work indeed. They’ve already started working with us thanks to the tremendous efforts of our horticulturist and volunteer coordinator Kat Dunlop (the harmonious gardener). Last week around 10 student, staff and external volunteers helped to move around three tonnes of leaf mulch from Craiglockhart to Merchiston!

Tam and his amazing techno watering system

Thanks to Tam Collier (Estates) we’ve been donated a timer-based watering system. All we need is some hosing to get it up and running. Tam has been a mine of information and a great support to us over the past few months. It was he who alerted us to the presence of nearly 20 tonnes of rich leaf mulch he’s been amassing at Craiglockhart over the years. Big up to him.

Gardena Automatic Water Distributor
Gardena Automatic Water Distributor

Plant the seed

Planting has begun in the Keder greenhouse and will continue for the foreseeable. So if you’d like to put your green fingers to work please email gardens@napier.ac.uk. We’ve got tomatoes, beans, garlic, cabbage, alpine strawberries, nasturtiums, lettuce and kale on the go already.

Planting the seed
Planting the seed

Silent shredder

Oh, and finally we fixed up our ‘silent’ shredder for the first time, so we can mulch on site. Works a treat and is pretty quiet considering what it does.

Kat using the silent shredder
Kat using the silent shredder

Public engagement award

Delighted to have been awarded £1000 by the School of Computing for a public engagement event planned for late-July.

The proposed open-day involves:

  • introduction to permaculture talk with question and answer session by a leading permaculture author and teacher
  • tours of the sites including foraging for produce to make a soup for a late-lunch
  • demonstrations of AR interactions and other tech systems in-development
  • planting a fruit tree guild
  • an ideas sprint/factory
  • volunteer sign-ups

We also hope to employ a photographer and artist to capture the event. We’re hoping around 40 people will attend. More information to follow as we develop our ideas.

The heat is on…for a day or two

It was 27 degrees celsius in the Keder this morning – a most enjoyable office temperature to work in – with a cool wind blowing through. I managed to complete a load of admin and rounded it off with potting some sweet peas, alpine strawberries and lettuce.

I also popped up to the photography department to chat about having a project photographer. Many thanks to Mary-Ann Kennedy for her enthusiasm. We’re soon to start developing an AR experience based around portraits of volunteers with quotes describing why they want to be a part of a permaculture project. Also we’d like to capture a public engagement event we’re planning for late-July. It’s all about integrating.

27 degrees C in the Keder greenhouse this morning
27 degrees C in the Keder greenhouse this morning

Raised beds

Many thanks to Earth Calling, and our first three volunteers Fabian, Gabrielle and Lucie for all their help yesterday making raised beds for our rooftop allotment and shifting those enormous logs from the kitchen area to The Lions Gate. You are all awesome, and the beds look great!

Raised bed construction with Earth Calling and The Permaculture Community Classroom
Raised bed construction with Earth Calling and The Permaculture Community Classroom
Frenetic activity on the roof
Frenetic activity on the roof
Bedism - of a sort
Bedism – of a sort
Earth Calling
Earth Calling
All done
All done
Now, what to put in them...
Now, what to put in them…

Paperwork.

It’s been a challenging process, but Kat and I with the help of the university Health & Safety group have carried out risk assessments and identified suitable insurance certificates to enable volunteer input to The Lions Gate Project.

We’ve also drawn up a Volunteer Policy – with associated forms (consent for use of media, induction checklist and registration document), as well as an evaluation form to gather data on visitor and volunteer experiences of The Lions Gate Project. Thanks to the Research and Innovation Office for supplying an evaluation template that we rejigged for our purposes.

Volunteer Policies and Evaluation Forms
Volunteer Policies and Evaluation Forms

Today, we have three volunteers, Fabien, Lucie and Gabrielle visiting to test the process and help us refine it. Gabrielle and Lucie are kick-starting a similar project at The University of Edinburgh’s Kings Buildings.

Health and Well being Committee

Delighted to have been invited onto a newly-formed committee that Kevin Wright (Engage Manager) has set-up to look at health and well being at the university. Three areas/groups have been developed; body, mind and environment, each with academic, student and professional services representation. I’m an academic voice in the environment group – though there is obviously plenty of cross-over between groups.

An associated ‘health promotion day’ has been organised for the 14th of March at Craiglockhart, where I’ll have a stand to discuss the gardens project’s and permaculture more broadly.