UTAS Sustainability is committed to supporting staff and students to access fresh, local and nutritious produce on all UTAS campuses to improve food security, increase local food production and reduce food miles.
There are a number of sustainable food-related initiatives happening on campus, including, but not limited to, food gardens.
- Inveresk Community Garden: The flagship UTAS community garden project is the vast community garden situated at the entrance to the brand-new campus at Inveresk in Launceston. With more than 30 large raised beds, the garden could almost be considered an urban farm. Once fully operational, it will produce tonnes of fruit and vegetables annually, nearly all of which will be consumed within 500m of where it was produced, thus greatly reducing the ‘food miles’ required to feed the students living in nearby residential colleges. An in-vessel composting machine receives up to 75kg of food scraps, garden waste and office waste per day, averting methane-emitting materials from landfill and turning them into rich organic compost for use in the garden.
- Heritage Orchard: The Heritage Orchard (1,900m2) is located along the western boundary of the campus, just downhill from the Australian Maritime College. It contains apricot, peach, plum, pear and apple trees and is maintained by staff. A recent Sustainability Integration for Students (SIPS) project focused on the orchard, with the aim of helping UTAS increase the orchard’s capacity to produce fruit for students and staff on the Newnham campus to share. Workshops on pruning are held annually and students help harvest and distribute fruit.
- Tamar Lane Community garden: Through the dedication and hard work of Gardening Society students, the once-neglected garden on Tamar Lane in Newnham has been transformed into one of the most productive community gardens at UTAS. In summer, nearly 30 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruit and edible flowers (borage, nasturtiums, calendulas and sunflowers) are grown, with winter cropping consisting primarily of brassicas and leafy greens. Produce is shared amongst Gardening Society members and with other students on campus, with excess provided to a campus café in exchange for free meals.
- Herb garden: There is also a small herb garden (6m2) managed by students living at the Kerslake Hall accommodation.
- Riawunna Centre indigenous garden: The Riawunna Centre has an indigenous garden with an educational and cultural focus. Visitors can view a number of plant types all with significance in the Tasmanian Aboriginal culture, including food plants, medicinal plants, industry plants (string making, basket weaving) and cultural calendar markers (e.g. when the snakes are out, start of spring, time for harvesting a particular plant). A proposal is currently in development to document these indigenous plants with the view to developing an interpretation trail. This information will also aid in the propagation of those plants for future use at Inveresk as part of the Northern Transformation project (and in other parts of the state as appropriate). This proposal may extend to the development of other initiatives, such as healing gardens/ circles, essential oils and food production.
- Field Building Courtyard: The recently constructed Field Building holds pride of place on the UTAS campus at West Park in Burnie. The building’s large internal courtyard contains a number of ground-level planting areas, and in a project recently conducted in partnership with the local Aboriginal community, eight advanced Banksia trees were planted in these beds. As these mature, and following the cultural practices of Tasmanian Aboriginals, the flowers will be harvested and the nectar used to make a sweet drink.
Rural Clinical School
- The Rural Clinical School has a small food garden that medical students are encouraged to be involved in.
Cradle Coast Campus
- There is a small vegetable garden (1 X 2m), originally set up by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) to promote farm-bot technologies. The garden is now managed by the Faculty of Education. A University researcher interested in indigenous food plants is growing native edible trees around this vegetable garden. Students living in campus accommodation collect and compost their own food waste.
- Source Community Wholefoods: The most well established and sustainable food garden at UTAS is the aptly named Source. Situated on a sloping site on the Sandy Bay campus, Source contains a café and eco education centre, as well as a large, productive garden. A committed group of volunteers meet weekly to tend the garden and eat together, resulting in a vibrant community and an abundant supply of fresh produce. Regular events are held, with pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven and music performed on a small timber stage.
- Centenary Building Courtyard: Standing in the heart of the UTAS campus at Sandy Bay, the Centenary Building contains a large, semi-enclosed, paved courtyard. A recent project involved students and staff constructing 12 ‘wicking’ style planter boxes, all of which were planted with advanced fruit trees: six olive trees and six kumquats. Mediterranean herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano etc) spill over the edges of the planters, which have transformed a bland and unfriendly space into an inviting food plant oasis.
- Paddy’s Patch Community Garden: Situated at Sandy Bay, and surrounded by student accommodation buildings, Paddy’s Patch is named in honour of former UTAS staff member Patrick Barbour, a passionate gardener who planted more than 20 pome, stone and citrus trees on the sloping site. In addition, in-ground beds allow for the year-round growing a wide range of vegetables. A recent expansion of the garden features eight raised beds constructed from organically treated plantation timber, which students have planted mostly with brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts etc). A ‘hot compost’ heap ensures that waste vegetative matter is transformed into a fertile, organic soil improver.
- University City Apartments community garden: The shared student-public plaza area at the University City Apartments in the centre of the Hobart Central Business District supports a growing assortment of raised 'wicking-style' garden beds growing a variety of herbs, vegetables, berries and indigenous plants. Also in this space are linear on-ground garden beds supporting a citrus hedge with alternating types of citrus that produce fruit in our climate as well as beds supporting rosemary and lavender. Both students and community members participate in wicking bed construction, planting, and harvesting activities as a way to bring the university and broader communities together.
- IMAS Community Garden: The UTAS Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies has a well-established community garden on its campus at Taroona in Hobart. This garden is unique in that it consists of three different areas, each of which is managed differently. The first area is a fruit and herb garden in a public space in front of the campus. This contains bay and olive trees, as well as Mediterranean herbs, with wider community freely able to access and harvest this produce. The second area is an internal courtyard managed by staff, with produce shared amongst themselves. The third area is a series of raised beds, each of which are allocated to a particular staff member for their private use. Another key feature of the garden is the use of fish waste – produced as part of the institute’s scientific research – as fertiliser.