Earlier this year, Archie stumbled upon his idea for the Greenhouse Project. Read how his sustainable idea has grown into an exciting, collaborative community project.  

Here at Canterbury Christ Church University, we’re huge on sustainability. It’s in everything we do, from the decisions we make to what we teach.

So, when students come up with an idea to help tackle the climate crisis and the cost-of-the-living crisis in one go, we’re all for it.

This is the case for second year Biomedical Science student, Archie. As he wandered round campus, he noticed a few greenhouses that looked slightly neglected. Not realising that they were used for our Plant Science students, Archie came up with the awesome idea of a community greenhouse: turning these seemingly derelict greenhouses into a usable space to grow fresh, organic food that students can then take home for free.

“It was a bit of a clean freak moment. My first thought was, ‘they really need a tidy’.

“Obviously, I didn’t know that they were actually being used, but not for growing food. So, that’s when I created the Greenhouse Project. It seemed like a no-brainer: if we have a greenhouse then we can grow food together, it’ll better our wellbeing, we’ll all have fresh, organic food that’s free, and it’ll help during the cost-of-living crisis. Honestly, I’m surprised nobody had thought of it before me!

“So, with the help of the Student Green Office, I got in contact with the Director of Sustainability Development, Peter Rands, to see if I could have a new greenhouse. Peter really supported my idea and took some funding out their budget to put towards buying a new greenhouse. If it wasn’t for his support, it never would’ve happened.

“So, now there’s a greenhouse, which is awesome. But this is where the real work begins. We need to find more funding so we can buy planters, equipment, soil etc. This is the second phase. We’re going to approach businesses around the community in the hopes to get some sponsorship so we can continue with the project.

“The first phase of actually getting the greenhouse and cleaning up the area was the easiest part. One of our goals is to the make it as accessible as possible, but what we needed was too expensive. Thankfully, the Estates team managed to put a walkway in, so now there’s paving, which makes the greenhouse accessible for everyone.”

Creating a community of allotment enthusiasts

It seems that a lot of people around the uni and Canterbury are keen to support Archie’s project. From Archie’s friends in the Rugby, BSL, and Dungeons and Dragon societies that he’s a member of to local business owners in the city, Archie already has a solid team of helpers, with hopes of growing this new community of allotment enthusiasts.

“One of the best things about this project is seeing people from different backgrounds all coming together. For example, I didn’t know that one of my teammates in rugby knows quite a bit about growing food because his mum has an allotment.

“No matter what society or social community you’re in, people are willing to give their time, which is really nice. It’s also the reason that motivated me to continue with the greenhouse idea in the first place.”

Making the Greenhouse Project sustainable

“Once the greenhouse is up and running and we’ve had our first crop, I’d like to take it one step further, so this project becomes sustainable in itself. Rather than depending on people to take time out of their day to check that everything is growing ok, I’d like to eventually get an irrigation system in place to make it more efficient, which will increase our harvest.

“Overall, I’m really pleased that an idea that randomly popped into my head as I was walking round campus has actually morphed into a project that has created a community, which will benefit the community.”

We’re really excited to see how the Greenhouse Project evolves throughout the year. With Archie’s goal of having it up and running by February, we’ll definitely keep you updated with how it’s going, and we can’t wait to see the first round of fruit and veggies grown!

Choosing a uni that will support your ideas

Choosing a university is tough. With so much pressure to choose the perfect uni, whilst factoring everything else in like accommodation, student finance, and how you’re going to afford life, it’s no wonder you might be slightly stressed at this point of the application process.

But whatever you do, choose a university that will support you in whatever idea you have. And choose a university where you feel confident and empowered enough to approach staff to see if something can be done.

Archie’s project is a prime example of how we support our students. Whether it’s starting a community greenhouse or starting your own society, we’re here to help. And we hope that you’ll become a part of our CCCU community in September.