All campuses can find space to introduce a growing site of some scale, but the University of Roehampton Students’ Union had a particularly unique opportunity.
Their spacious, green campus – practically backing onto the extensive Richmond Park – is the perfect site for some serious growing.
With Students’ Green Fund, they’re using a dedicated grower to create the produce for The Hive - a brand new sustainable café, right at the heart of campus, opened this week by MP Justine Greening.
“It’s a lovely sunny day at Roehampton, so many people are sitting outside amongst the plants on furniture that we have upcycled”, explains Growhampton development officer Teresa Sheppard, when we spoke to her on the day of the full opening.
“Lots of people have been coming to check us out and, we are receiving great feedback from our new customers. They love the triple certified coffee and rustic interior that has been created inside the shipping container café”
Already, the campus is producing an astonishing amount of food. Some of it gets bagged and sold to staff and students at really low prices; some of it makes up the sandwiches and soups in the café. And over the coming months, there will be more and more food produced.
The Hive is a social enterprise model, using its profits to support the project’s expansion, as well partnering with local charities like Regenerate.
“Their new social enterprise, The Feel Good Bakery, provides employment opportunities for people within Roehampton”, Teresa explains. “We have been growing lots of spinach and lettuce in our polytunnel, which they use as ingredients in their sandwiches”
“We then sell the sandwiches in the café, providing them with a retail outlet and us with a fresh, local lunch option”
The Hive is the perfect place to enjoy a locally made lunch or an ethical cup of coffee. And the Growhampton team are already making plans to expand their vision for the café – hoping it to become the centre for acoustic nights, honey production, vegetable box schemes and much more.
“We want to create a warm and friendly social space where students will meet up and chill out and also become inspired about growing and where their food comes from”, Teresa told us. “We hope it will spark new sustainability initiatives led by students themselves”