Dundee campus allotments in demand by students

They are often regarded as the territory of grumpy old men, celebrities 'getting back to nature' and even politicians, but definitely not something on students' wish list after a night's clubbing.

A trainee weeds her plot on a student allotment
A trainee weeds her plot on a student allotment

But now the University of Dundee has said it is responding to repeated requests from students for allotments to grow their own fruit and vegetables and is setting up 20 new allotments on campus.

The plots are on the site of the former Biological Sciences Institute on Miller’s Wynd, which was demolished last summer.

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The rent-free plots will be available to any student living in city campus residences at Heathfield, Belmont, Belmont Tower, Seabraes and The Hub.

Adjacent to the fenced-off allotments is a newly-established, open-plan edible garden where students can “graze” or pick their own fruit for free.

The garden currently has an abundance of soft fruits such as blueberries and blackberries.

The aim of edible gardens – a community movement sweeping Europe – is to promote healthy eating

Trudy Cunningham, the university’s environment and sustainability officer, said the plots were being tended by staff over the summer.

“There are already plots at our Botanic Garden, but there is such high demand that we had always wanted to put in more. Beds will be allocated to each of our city campus residences with the remaining beds available to be used by staff, student groups and the wider community.”

Charlie Kleboe-Rogers, vice-president of academia at Dundee University Students’ Association, said the allotments were generating a lot of excitement.

“I think it’s great. Fantastic. Students told us they would like to see more greenery on campus and the university responded. It’s wonderful seeing it all come to fruition, he said.

“This is really a massive thing for student welfare. We now have a big break-out space where students can sit while having their lunch, they can even pick things for their lunch.

Mr Kleboe-Rogers added: “First-year studies can be really tough and in later years students are in the library all the time. We’re saying to them ‘look,here’s this space, come and use it.’”

NUS Scotland president Liam McCabe said: “We hope to see this trend continue, and more universities and colleges providing students with fun, engaging, opportunities to support their wellbeing in the face of these increased pressures.”

Famous allotment holders include Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, actor Charles Dance and singer Kim Wilde.