Students volunteer at thriving new college Allotment Club as planting begins

Ella Dunlop (Clinical Medicine) launched an Allotment Club at Green Templeton in March 2021 to bring people together as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, while also promoting sustainability.

Here, Ella shares pictures as she gives an update on the club’s first month, and explains how the Green Templeton community can still get involved.

An allotment club member examining soil in her hand while digging
Allotment club members enjoy the sunshine as they pose for a photo on the site mid-dig

‘It’s been one month since I launched the community allotment project and I’ve been overwhelmed by the engagement and enthusiasm to participate.

Students from all different disciplines have visited the allotment and been involved – from DPhil students working on biochemical projects, to Computer Scientists and Medical Anthropology. Not only is it testament to the range of courses catered to by Green Templeton, but also the open-minded nature of its student body. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for these different groups to intersect. We’re looking forward to reaching more students and staff at the college in the coming weeks – if you’d like to come down and join in please get in touch by email at allotment@gtc.ox.ac.uk.

A panoramic view of the allotment in Old marston used by the GTC Allotment Club

So much has changed on the plot with all those extra hands and it has been a busy few weekends! When you arrive on the plot, you’ll initially be struck by a swathe of cardboard-covered turf. This is strange but efficient weed control! Recycled packaging from a large delivery at the John Radcliffe Hospital up the road, this cardboard will soon form the basis of some no-dig vegetable beds. Soon, with the addition of some peat-free compost, it will be ready to plant with courgettes, butternut squash and pumpkins for the summer and autumn months.

Allotment team members lay large sheets of cardboard on the soil to use as compsot

On the other side of the plot, four rows of different varieties of raspberries form an enclosed avenue. While these might not fruit for another year, when they do fruit, it should be a bumper crop. A personal favourite I’m looking forward to is the variety “All Gold” – a sweet yellow raspberry.

Most recently, the GTC Allotment Team spent a weekend putting in two long asparagus beds. The variety “Ginjlim” proved more difficult to pronounce than to plant and we can now expect a crop of up to 8kg next spring, and for up to 20 years to follow.

Two allotment team members pose next to a freshly dug bed ahead of planting raspberries
Two allotment team members survey a freshly planted soil bed

While the plot could still be called untidy by any passerby, it has nonetheless developed a discerning following on the official Instagram @gtc_allotment. It’s a space to share our antics on the plot for others to enjoy from afar, especially for those still shielding or away from campus for the timebeing.

One of our ambitions is to encourage participation among the student families in college. In coordination with Emily Gough, one of the GCR Welfare Officers, a sunflower growing competition has been launched for children to enter a seedling in a summer grow-off. A spot has been reserved on the allotment for any children to plant out their seedlings. A couple of student-grown “dwarf sunflowers” have also been started to bring the fun to the plot too.

A woman on a bicycle standing in the middle of the developing allotment
Ella Dunlop's allotment in Old Marston, April 2021

Our next mission is to design and commission a storage and seating structure for the far end of the plot, and bring it in on budget. Any design eyes, or wood-working experience would be much appreciated! Please send me an email at allotment@gtc.ox.ac.uk if you think you could help with this project.

It’s hoped that in the summer, and COVID-permitting, we can hold a garden party at the site to celebrate everyone’s hard work and share what we’ve achieved. In the meantime, sign up to the mailing list by sending a blank email to gtc-allotment-subscribe@mailinglist.ox.ac.uk.

Ella Dunlop
Lead of the Allotment Club
Fourth Year Clinical Medicine
Green Templeton College

Ella received Annual Fund support to help launch the Allotment Club. Through the generosity of donors, the Annual Fund provides grants for academic-related activities and support for college life.  

Created: 26 April 2021

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