UNSW Urban Growers Garden Project

Supervisor: Dr Mariano Ramirez

Next week on Oct 31 2019, UNSW will launch the its first food growing space at the Barker Street Car Park, to be known as the UNSW Urban Growers Teaching and Research Garden. UNSW Urban Growers is a cross-faculty working group of staff and students dedicated to creating food growing space on UNSW campuses and integrating this activity into research and teaching. The group includes staff from the faculties of Law, Built Environment, Medicine, Science, Engineering, Arts & Social Sciences, Art and Design, and students from Arc@UNSW. This university food garden is funded by the UNSW Scientia Education Academy and the UNSW Grand Challenge on Rapid Urbanisation.

Food growing is already incorporated into several courses and research activities at UNSW. Many academic staff conduct food-related research which requires growing space. Contact with nature is tied to improvements in both physical and psychological health, boosting the immune system and having a beneficial impact on long-term wellbeing. Exercise and outdoor activity in a group participation setting also creates the opportunity for social connection. Keeping the UNSW campus environment green can counteract urban heat islands, reduce energy costs, clean air and increase resident health.

This ID Honours Research Stream can campus food gardens will support project proposals from students along the lines of:

  • designing a ‘circular economy’ for organic waste from campus food retailers
  • applying the ‘fun theory’ to nudge and influence people in campus to participate in campus food gardening or food scraps collection activities
  • designing open source beehives for Australian stingless bees
  • internet-of-things to monitor health of Australian stingless native bees in food gardens
  • user-friendly worm farms which eliminate the ‘yukkk’ and ‘smells funny’ factor
  • transforming perceptions of hard labour in food gardens into a fun and productive endeavour
  • designing a ‘garden tool library’ for the UNSW community

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