Ellie Brown
Flexible Combined Honours

Co-President of Penryn Produce

My journey into improving the sustainability of Penryn campus began early on in first year when I got involved with some of the more 'environmentally minded' societies, such as Green Living. But it wasn't until second year when I applied for NCS Student Eats funding with three others students and Penryn Produce was created, that I was able to recognise a desire within myself to create the solutions that change people's behaviours to ones that are more sustainable. I saw this as more important than my studies in many ways, because it was actually using my knowledge of landscape degradation, climate change, societal breakdown etc to make a difference. This meant I didn't have to wait for graduation before contributing to change.  

We were able to receive funding from Student Eats, whose main aim is to give students both opportunities to develop businesses dealing with sustainable food and have access to the food itself. Receiving this funding was the beginning of a steep learning curve which bought me into contact with many wonderful, inspiring people and highlighted to me what I want to make my life's goals. With the support of the Students’ Union, NUS Student Eats and, of course, other Penryn Produce committee members and customers, we have been able to keep expanding and have become well known on campus. 

Cornwall, and in particular Falmouth, is an extremely special place to study because it still has a close community, especially around the development of sustainable and local food. I feel that I am living close to many people who are passionate about a reconnection with food and therefore the land and nature providing it. I believe reconnecting to our food is a gateway into living more sustainably as it makes people slow down, take time to understand the foods that are seasonal right now, and also feel closer to the individuals dedicating time to growing it.

Sustainability on campus needs to not be an addition - it needs to be within the very nature of the place. It has a long way to go but, compared to other campuses, I believe it is bringing people who already are aware of this need. Not only this, people that know and celebrate the beautiful simplicities of life, from growing veggies, to foraging walks in the wood, or soup discos. 

Moving forward with Penryn Produce is also going to be super exciting as we were able to receive a substantial sum of money to expand from NUS Student Eats. This means more of the good stuff! Grant writing is such a useful skill to have and one of the many that I have been able to practise within Penryn Produce. I recommend making use of opportunities like this, whilst you have organisations such as NUS Student Eats or the Students’ Union to support you. It's a lot more fun and there's space for mistakes when it's not your money riding on it succeeding! 

I will be heading into my final year now and I am not sure how easy I will find it to balance the work load, Penryn Produce, Green Living and all the activities I hope to get involved in. But it's all about the journey, not the outcome, and I am for sure learning and laughing a lot. 

Can't pretend though that deadlines don't still suck... but when you have found your fellow 'green beans' then this is much easier to cope with.