Going green at all levels is the aim of Otago
Polytechnic's Living Campus. Gillian Vine reports.
It started quietly about five years ago with a School of
Natural Resources permaculture garden in Anzac Ave and now
Living Campus covers all of Otago Polytechnic.
The first such venture in New Zealand or Australia, the aim
was twofold - putting ''green'' ideas into practice at every
level and raising student awareness of sustainability in the
hope they would carry forward what they learned after
completing their courses.
Supported from the top by chief executive Phil Ker, the
polytechnic has ungraded its heating system, replacing
coal-fired boilers with wood-chip ones. As well as reducing
air pollution and using a renewable fuel source, it produces
wood ash, being tested for use on gardens.
Recycling is wide-ranging. Not only is glass, plastic, paper
and cans recycled but cooking oil and organic waste are too.
Shredded paper is used in a chook run and when the hens have
finished with it, the enriched paper goes into the compost.
Composting options are demonstrated through stacked bins,
bokashi systems and worm farms, while green waste unsuitable
for composting on campus is gathered in a large skip then
shredded and composted at the Dunedin City Council landfill
Catching rainwater to reduce dependence on town supply is
planned and this will also reduce electricity usage, as
currently water used in making compost tea has to be agitated
by a powered unit to eliminate chemicals, such as chlorine,
that negate bacterial action.
Beekeeping is also on the agenda.
More visible to most, because of the planting on the Harbour
Tce side of the main campus, are the gardens that, according
to horticulture tutor Kim Thomas, merge ''ornamental and
edible [plants] in a sustainable way''.
A recent presentation co-ordinated by third-year occupational
therapy students Gabrielle Seator and Victoria Lindsay as
part of a community paper marked five years of the Living
The fun lunchtime event had teams competing in areas such as
potting plants and making salads from Living Campus produce,
while students looking on won prizes for their sustainability
Ms Thomas has high praise for ''Organic Girl'' Michelle
Ritchie, her team and the Living Campus management who have
''taken the project from good to great''.
In addition, the polytechnic's natural resources team now
undertakes maintenance of the Living Campus area and the
''Now we can do student pracs [practical exercises] on the
main campus and we're really enjoying that visibility. It's
important for people to see who is doing stuff,'' Ms Thomas
The educators' role is to produce sustainable practitioners
who will continue to use resources wisely after they complete
their courses, she says.
The students can have their own allotment-style patches, too,
or simply help themselves from edible gardens planted around
''The Living Campus is a wonderful resource for modern and
sustainable options at Otago Polytechnic,'' Ms Thomas says.
For more about the Living Campus, see livingcampus.co.nz