Sowlent Food Garden

Public Sector • Southampton

Solent University's Sowlent initiative promotes the wider benefits of community gardening and uses its Food Garden as a Living Lab.

Sowlent Food Garden's story

As a learning and teaching organisation, Solent University believes they have a vital role to play in promoting sustainability and social justice – through their coursework, research, campus operations and engagement with students, staff and the wider community.

Their environmental and sustainability policies and practices cover a wide range, from carbon management to travel, sustainable food, heating and cooling. As a result of work undertaken, Solent University have been ranked 4th (university) in the UK for low carbon emissions, with a decrease of 57% since 2016.

One initiative that exemplifies this broader approach is the Sowlent Food Garden – the university's allotment in the heart of the city, situated next to the Solent Sports Complex. Run by the Sowlent Student Society and Staff Garden Club, the Food Garden provides a space for volunteers grow fruit and vegetables, from leafy greens and heritage broad beans to fresh herbs and varieties of strawberries.

The Sowlent initiative is open to all staff and students and encourages everyone to take a break from work and study, get out in the fresh air and enjoy the health, wellbeing and environmental benefits of community gardening.

The Food Garden is also a Living Lab, and used for student projects including monitoring growing conditions using remote sensing and a master's dissertation exploring the link between home grown produce and improved diet and nutrition.

Useful learnings from Sowlent Food Garden

It's therapeutic, with space to unwind and de-stress (improves mood and well-being) and with fresh air in a peaceful and safe environment (and with some vitamin D!).

People learn new skills (or utilise existing ones) and can benefit from the physical activity (especially if sitting for long periods studying).

It is an opportunity to socialise with other people (or garden alone if you prefer) and is disability-friendly and inclusive as an activity.

Some students can use the Food Garden for course projects and everyone can benefit from the health benefits from eating more fruit and vegetables.

And it's good for the environment too!

Sowlent Food Garden metrics

Number of society members
Produce grown
Health and social benefits

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Response to climate crisis





Public Sector, 250 to 10,000 people

Shared by

South West Net Zero Hub

Updated Feb, 2024

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