Green Week – focus on the Living Lab

This blog post is written by Living Lab: Feeding the Campus student researcher Hayden Costello.  A second year psychology student, Hayden has been engaging with students across the University to explore ‘food spaces’ and experiences. Here, they reflect on the University’s third annual Green Week; the themes, events and ongoing discussions it encouraged the YSJ community to consider.  

Green Week 

York St John held its third annual Green Week, an eco-celebration of community, social justice and sustainability. Between 13 and 16 March, the week was packed with events and activities to bring awareness to students, and highlight the amazing work done at all levels within the University 

Kiss The Ground: 

Kicking off Green Week, we started with the showing of a short film by Ryland Engelhart, creatively Poster for the film 'Kiss The Ground'illustrating the effects of soil quality on climate change through an accessible scientific documentary. Featuring Woody Harrelson and Ray Archuleta, it discusses the causes, solutions and challenges of climate change, soil degradation and modern farming. Enrapturing and enlightening us all, this creation highlighted the importance of our food chains, and how saving soil can save the earth. You can watch the film here by entering the password ‘school’.

‘The solution is right under our feet’.




Meat-free Monday: 

Did you know that reducing red meat intake can reduce the chances of developing heart disease, certain cancers, even diabetes? Or that 52% of all land mammal mass on the planet is cow and sheep? In a vital

Students in the YSJ canteen

‘It creates a greater appreciation for the environment and links social justice into our lives as well as making students conscious of what goes into their diet.’ -Anna

attempt to combat pollution, deforestation and ground water depletion, York St John introduced a special Meat-Free Monday with a delicious array of vegetarian/vegan meals, such as bean burgers, Vegan Fried Chicken and several veggie pizzas. Our canteen spent the day bustling with eco-friendly activity. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, not only from our students, but also our canteen staff. With an easier menu, and delicious products selling as well as any other day, popular opinion would garner this a great success! With each Meat-Free Monday York St John hopes to: Save 1,500,000 gallons of water, take cars off the road for a total of 352,000 miles, eliminate 5 tons of C02 emissions, and reduce the chances of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. If you would like to see more regular Meat-Free Mondays, please email 

Square Meter Gardening Workshop: 

Many thanks to our Grounds Team particularly Martin Amman and Naomi Blyth-Kubota who led this workshop. (Image credit: David Clode)

In a modern spin on food growing, this innovative workshop showed us how we can garden successfully in a limited space, providing information anyone could take home to their own backyard. Learning everything from the best compost to use, to which plants best accompany your veggies and herbs, both students and lecturers went away with more than one idea for a green-fingered garden this summer. With the plan of ‘growing lots and growing easy’, we can only hope to expand to more planters, and even York St John’s own community garden! 


Community Gardening at YSJ: 

Lou Diver and Angela Johnson of Low Moor Community Kids Allotment shared their 20 years of experience in keeping a community horticulture project alive. They told their story of community, and the dedicated hard work that went into the creation of a thriving garden for all. An in-depth discussion ensued between the university’s Grounds Team,  staff, and students, with people putting their heads together and generating ideas on how to drum up interest, encourage student involvement and grow our local ecosystem into something to be proud of. It was wonderful to see students, researchers and parents work together in the spirit of social justice, and we can’t wait to see their hard work come into fruition. 

Doing Change: 

Doing Change is a celebration of York St John University’s commitment to education for social justice and the platform for the annual Archbishop of York Lecture in Social Justice. The evening, organised by the Institute for Social Justice, provided an opportunity to engage with screenings, art works, posters and presentations by university students, sharing their engagement with social justice across the arts, humanities and sciences, including work from our own Living Lab. Following from this exciting research, student keynote speakers Beth Lally and Francisca Rockey highlighted their involvement in social justice work: Beth in empowering women trapped by the labels of the prison system, Francisca in increasing and highlighting POC presence in Geography. After an exciting introduction from the Archbishop of York, guest speaker  Fozia Irfan, director of BBC Children in Need, discussed how crucial social justice work is, especially in the harder times, and how to improve the frameworks of charities and the drive for change. Together we explored how education can support our ability to imagine and enact a better, and more just future.