READING students have been digging for victory, converting a disused and dishevelled walled garden into a beautiful herb and vegetable patch.

The Student Eats Botanika Society started work on the overgrown garden near Wessex Halls of Residence on the University's Whiteknights campus in January, stripping away the weeds and digging new plots, and on Thursday, June 6 staff and students were invited to grow their own herbs.

The society's president, Justin Groves, 21, an applied ecology and conservation student, said the garden is more than 100-years-old, but it took a recent injection of cash from the National Union of Students (NUS) to get the area back in shape.

He added: "We have done an extreme amount of work in just five months. Even in the snow we had at least 15 people helping, which was really nice.

"Today has been great, we have had students and some staff come down so it really is the start of a real community project."

The cash from the NUS was split between 18 universities to allow them to grow their own food locally and sustainably on campus, and the Reading garden now boasts green beans, potatoes, sweet corn, cabbages, cucumbers and broad beans which should be ready for harvesting in the summer.

Emily Shaw, volunteer and social enterprise co-ordinator for Reading University Students Union, is in charge of managing the volunteers and the garden's budget, as well as encouraging other groups to use the garden.

She said: "It has been really exciting to get staff in to explore the garden and hopefully lots of them will get involved."

As well as selling the produce to students on campus, plans include using the walled garden as a social space for barbecues and other student activities.