Growhampton is a sustainability project run by Roehampton Students’ Union at the University of Roehampton. The project engages students, staff and the local community with environmental issues, particularly those associated with food. Growhampton was established in September 2013 and was externally funded by the Students’ Green Fund (SGF) for the first two years. Growhampton achieved an enormous amount during the first two years, becoming one of the top performing SGF projects, winning two prestigious awards and generating a huge impact on campus.
Growhampton firmly believes in social responsibility, and we aim wherever possible to ensure our students leave university feeling empowered to take on any task life throws at them. This report is a reflection of our values, objectives and our desire to implement positive change on campus and beyond.
A great deal of our social impacts revolves around the students who dedicate a great amount of time to volunteer with us, whether it is during our Learn to Grow sessions, with the chickens or at market day. It is their willingness and determination that allows Growhampton to achieve everything that we are able to achieve. It can be easy to assume that social impact is a measure of how well our funding has been spent, and of course this should be taken into account, but we believe that it’s the journey of each individual student where the true impact lies, which is a testament to the enthusiasm, teamwork and passion we see our work bring onto campus.
Growhampton has run ‘harvest morning’ and ‘learn to grow’ on a weekly basis since September, a total of 92 volunteering sessions and 1369 volunteer hours have been given by our students. These sessions have enabled students to develop social skills and other soft skills required for employment such as leadership, team working and communication skills. It also gives them real life examples to use in future job interviews. We’ve run ‘Learn to Grow’ sessions for two years now, and is still one of our most popular sessions with 5-10 students participating each week.
Growhampton has continued to provide volunteering opportunities in the university holidays enabling students to gain employability skills throughout the entire year.
3 student internships have been employed by the RSU, allowing students to work with the Growhampton team; this has included working with students, working to plan activities and getting more students involved
The chickens are overseen by Growhampton but are entirely student led with a second year student managing the project. 107 students have been trained as chicken volunteers with 325 hours of volunteering given. Chicken volunteering is unsupervised giving the students the opportunity to demonstrate reliability, independence and organisational employability skills.
Through Wandsworth Grant funding Growhampton has continued to develop our Roadshow, delivering food education sessions to primary schools in Wandsworth. Over 20 students have been training to facilitate and lead these sessions. Education students undergoing teacher training at the University of Roehampton can volunteer with this programme to help run the sessions and obtain unique work experiences teaching in an outdoor learning environment.
14 students have been employed at The Hive this year. Students have progressed to assistant manager and shift supervisor positions. Employability skills learned include cash handling, customer service, social entrepreneurship, team work and sales.
In November 2016 we were successful in receiving £1000 funding to set up a new student enterprise to produce preserves such as pesto, chutney, jams, cordials and more based on seasonal availability.
On the 9th March 2017 a dedicated group of students launched their social enterprise 'This is Our Jam' with great success. The profits will go straight back into the Growhampton project and go towards the continuation and development of 'This is Our Jam'. This will allow us to put on more events and food education sessions for our student, allowing them to gain valuable skills and experiences at university.
For many of our volunteers such as those studying Zoology, Nutrition, Psychology, and Business for example, volunteering with Growhampton provides a practical application of their degrees.
A student studying business at the university used the Growhampton Market Day as research object for his dissertation, an education students refereed to his practical experience with the Roadshow in one of his assignments.
Growhampton has collaborated with staff from Dance, Business, Drama, Theatre and Performance, and the Education department to provide practical and real life experiences for their students.
The extension to The Hive has created a much needed social/meeting space for a wide demographic across campus. It is popular with mature students who have previously reported that was no provision for them on campus. It is also popular with international students and those who prefer a non-alcoholic environment. The Hive is also popular for staff meetings with people reporting that it has improved their working environment.
This year we ran 20 un-wined events at The Hive, attracting over 1000 students over the course of the academic year. These have included acoustic nights, comedy, craft evenings, bingo and movie nights providing an event schedule that is not centred on alcohol.
Growhampton volunteers have reported that the opportunity has had a positive effect on their health and wellbeing. It provides a space for them to de-stress between lectures, assignments and exams and enables them to be more productive when studying.
Growhampton has put on several Orchard restoration sessions this year, promoting the wonderful experience of the outdoors and the great impact this can have on both mental and physical wellbeing.
The ‘Learn to Grow’ volunteering sessions that have been run on a Wednesday afternoon provide an alternative to sports.
Growhampton volunteering has provided an inclusive non-competitive opportunity that is open to people of all backgrounds and skill levels.
The Hive has expanded its menu this year, creating healthy homemade lunches. The lunch offer has increased the number of people visiting The Hive with the hot lunch selling out almost every day. The Hive offers an important food provision on campus where increased vegetarian and vegan options can be accessed.
The Hive has developed a catering provision this year which has increased the catering options on campus, supporting 41 events run by academic departments.
The transformation of Digby Square, which started in the first two years of the project has led to it being established now as the heart of campus in year 4. Traffic flow on campus has changed with Digby Square providing a welcoming community space and being a ‘go to’ destination.
We have continued to run market day every Thursday during term-time, and have introduced several external food stalls such as Greek2Go and Mr. Kimchi which has received positive feedback from both students and staff.
Market day creates a community feel and buzz on campus, gives students the opportunity to buy fresh vegetables, bread and eggs on campus. It also wish to see food producers thrive and expand and to nourish, enrich and inspire our local community.
Market day has developed with a tour of the market to each college campus throughout the year.
Growhampton has run 15 bike repair workshops this year. This provides free maintenance and sells affordable reconditioned bikes. It has made it easier for students to adopt UoR’s travel plan. Students have been learning bike repair skills alongside mechanics.
Growhampton has increased their collaboration and engagement with societies and other student groups and have been successful supporting a number of societies and academic departments.
Growhampton volunteering plays a really important ‘social’ role. Volunteers develop friendships with each other and become friends outside of volunteering. This year we have run a number of social events, such as sustainability seminars, to support and encourage friendships to develop. In some cases friendship is the main motivation for volunteering
Growhampton activities carried out through the last year ensured that the RSU won a Green Impact Gold award for the second time in June 2016.
The Growhampton volunteering sessions have highlighted issues related to food miles, pesticide use, waste, pollution, diet and exercise.
The chickens raise and address issues of animal welfare both for volunteers and those who pass by the chickens. This year the chickens have also frequently by visited by children from the local community through our food education sessions.
The Hive aims to embody environmental and social responsibility through the products it sells. Having an outlet that observes the triple bottom line on campus ensures that environmental and social responsibility becomes part of the consciousness of the campus community’s everyday consumer behaviour.
Sales of Feel Good Bakery sandwiches have reached 34,795 providing this many meals to children in developing countries.
The thrift shop has continued to run this year, appearing as a pop up at market day. It puts the spotlight on the issue of waste and made recycling easier for students.
Growhampton has developed a new halls re-use scheme together with a group of students that launched in May 2017 with the aim of improving the sustainability of the university campus through the reuse of items that are commonly thrown away such as clothes, books and kitchen wear. Most of this will be given to charity.
Students from the Life Science department has created a SMART Action Plan to improve biodiversity on campus, and several wild flowers have been planted across campus.
Growhampton has provided a lot of positive PR for the university since the inception of the project. We are currently being used as an example of best practice to promote the NUS’s latest Our Bright Future fund.
Growhampton had its abstract accepted and been invited to present together with the NUS at the EAUC Conference, at the University of Lancaster in March.
Growhampton has recently had an article published on the NUS Student Eats web page, written by one of our student volunteers.
Growhampton has submitted an article to the Biodynamic Association’s journal, Star and Furrow.
Growhampton has built an excellent relationship with the admissions department and plays an important role on open days. The Hive is opening for every open day this year together with our usual market stalls, and are reaching many thousands of potential students. It is a stop on the ‘ambassador tour’ and ambassadors are trained to exhibit the space.
Growhampton volunteers and the Hive staff are ambassadors for the university on open days, answering a lot of practical questions and also questions about what it is like to live and study here.
Growhampton have supported the university to retain its Fairtrade University status. The Hive has a large and permanent stock of Fairtrade items. We have also played a big role in Fairtrade Fortnight; this year we organised a big market on Froebel College, which included two stalls selling Fairtrade products.
During Fairtrade Fortnight Growhampton welcomed two guest speakers in The Hive who spoke about the importance of buying Fairtrade products. This was part of Think Global’s speakers tour, a three-year SUSY project which promotes the role of the Social and Solidarity Economy in creating sustainable livelihoods and meeting local, as well as global, needs.
The Hive is famous within the university sector for its look and feel and unique structure.
The chickens on campus provide a ‘wow’ factor for Roehampton and are a selling point on open days.
The polytunnel and growing spaces set Roehampton apart from other universities. We are now widely recognised as one of the best edible campus’ in the country and the best in London.
Growhampton has introduced projects that have enhanced Roehampton University’s rich heritage. Again adding to the attraction the campus holds for prospective students e.g. restoration of the ancient orchard, chickens in the old kitchen garden.
Expansion of The Hive has increased the number and demographic of local community using the campus. Parents and children, forest schools, hospital staff, and the community police are regulars at The Hive.
Development of the RSU supporting and creating the Roehampton Voice providing news in the local community and about University positive news.
The chicken project has also increased the number of new community members visiting our campus, especially parents with children. The chickens make the campus seem more accessible, friendly and welcoming.
Growhampton’s partnership with community partner’s Paradise Co-op, an urban farming co-operative in Wandsworth, is still strong. We continue to offer holiday camps during the mid-term holidays under banner of ‘Wild Child’.
The Growhampton Roadshow have developed and facilitated 39 food education sessions for 1696+ people living in Wandsworth. This outreach programme in particular has strengthened Roehampton University’s relationship with local schools in Wandsworth.
Growhampton and Paradise Co-op trains Roehampton students to become activity leaders, providing employability skills. This year we have developed a strong relationship with the education department, providing work experience for all training teachers. We have also provided ‘additional placements’ which is a compulsory element of the B.Ed.
Growhampton have developed a collaborative research project together with the Sports Psychology department and health professionals from the NHS to run a falls prevention gardening programme on our edible campus. The programme seeks to evaluate gardening as an alternative to traditional exercises which often have a poor uptake by the target demographic.
Growhampton was part of Regenerate’s Feel Good Festival 29th July, bringing our usual market stalls and setting up and ‘Wild Child’ area for children together with Paradise Co-Op.
You can download the full survey results for Staff Survey and Student Survey.