Ben Wilkins

Student Vegetable Diaries

Ben is a 25 year old Osteopathy Undergraduate student at Oxford Brookes, who already has experience in social enterprise, having previously started Climb at Brookes - a rock climbing project for young people with behavioural difficulties.

Ben has now launched Student Vegetable Diaries - encouraging students to grow their own vegetables by providing them with practical know how, video instruction and "grow packs" containing compost & seeds.

Whilst Student Vegetable Diaries was initially an Oxford Brookes funded social entrepreneurship project, Ben is now thinking of ways to make it sustainable. As a serial social entrepreneur, Ben also has ideas for sustainable guest houses as well as transport, including energy sources for both.

Gardening, building and climbing are his main passions, and something he is keen to develop opportunities for others to engage in too.

Ben explained:

"Working with the UnLtd Programme at Brookes has helped me realise what I'm capable of. It's given me confidence and belief in what I can achieve. It's an on-going journey, and ideas can become a reality."

The biggest challenge for Ben is being persistent and maintaining passion and motivation over time. He has learned how important it is to delegate and work in a team. He says his greatest success has been single-handedly, creating Student Vegetable Diaries.

The Project has also had a good social impact, with over 3000 visitors to its website, 500 video views and 50 student starter packs to try gardening sent out. Ben hopes that the Project will positively impact on people's confidence to try it.

For the moment, Ben is concentrating on finishing his Degree. In the long term he hopes to carry out research in Osteopathy. He is also busy fundraising for his current Project, with an aim towards making it sustainable.

In terms of personal achievements, Ben feels that running the Project has increased his ability to manage his workload, but also made him appreciate the time and effort required for such activities. Fortunately, he says his passion and commitment have helped him to carry out the hard work.