Joined efforts towards green campus – Insights from biking and secret garden workshops

Cynoglossum officinale in bloom.
Cynoglossum officinale in bloom at City center campus. Photo by Anna Heikkinen.

Thanks to STUE Action Grant, Group “Biodiversity and Green Campuses” of the Sustainable Tampere Universities’ Network organised green campus workshops in Spring 2022. The aim of the workshops was to strengthen environmental sustainability at Tampere University with an interdisciplinary, participatory approach.

The workshops were organised with two main themes: (1) a secret garden project in campus grounds, and (2) enhancing biking facilities at all campuses. Workshops open for staff and students were conducted in May 2022.

Biking workshops highlighted the need for improved biking facilities

The biking workshops, at City center and Kauppi/TAMK campuses, highlighted the need for covered bike racks, shower opportunity, bike maintenance, place for helmets, frame lockable bike racks, and signs and maps for biking to access the campuses.

Many of these ideas are being discussed and implemented in the different campuses in different working groups. The insights from our workshops are communicated to such working groups to support their work and offer further ideas.

Covered bike rack at Hervanta campus.
Covered bike rack at Hervanta campus. Photo by Anna Heikkinen.

Secret garden can enhance biodiversity and social well-being opportunities

The secret garden workshop was held at Hervanta campus. The workshop pinpointed the importance of having green, accessible spaces at campus grounds. Green areas can enhance local biodiversity and offer opportunities for students and staff’s wellbeing. The planned secret garden is envisaged as a small green area that can be used for breaks, discussions, meetings, and small-scale recreational activities. The idea discussed in the workshop is that the secret garden is generated by the university community members, in other words by students and staff.

The generation and maintenance of the secret garden is currently being planned. Open questions relate to how and when the garden is created, how the maintenance is organised, and ensuring the accessibility and safety of the garden.

The aim is that the secret garden will be monitored and evaluated to gather information on how the participants, in the co-creation phase, and the users of the garden experience it. This will provide important insights and feedback for enhancing the success of future projects.

Next steps: Ideating a new sustainability practices course

The plan is to create a secret garden in Hervanta campus during 2023. Organising a course around the secret garden is one option that has been brought up in the discussions concerning how to implement the garden as a participatory project.

An interdisciplinary, sustainability-focused, practice-oriented course could allow for students of all campuses to participate in the garden project. Also staff members with various kinds of expertise could contribute, for example by tutoring the course. As a part of the course work, the students could organise the designing and implementing work, which could include practical, hands-on garden workshops that are open for all interested.

More information:

Anna Heikkinen,
Raul Castano De la Rosa (TAU),

 The Sustainable Tampere Universities’ Network (link leads to Tampere University’s intranet)

The activity was supported by STUE Action Grant