With urban populations growing so rapidly and climate change challenging traditional farming methods, cities around the world have been trying to come up with solutions. With food growing in up-cycled shipping containers and forgotten air-raid tunnels, London has become a hotspot for urban agriculture and community gardening. On our hunt for London’s urban farms, we come across an underground salad factory, aquaponic ecosystem, edible permaculture garden and more.
1. Growing Underground
A network of forgotten air-raid tunnels 33m below Clapham Common has been converted into a year-round salad factory. Hydroponic technology and LED lighting coax forth trays of pea shoots, rocket and coriander in a pesticide-free environment. These greens are sold to Borough Market suppliers and Michelin-starred restaurant La Gavroche, as well as through online food delivery service Farmdrop. The farm aims to reduce food miles, spoilage and the dependence on imported, preservative-laden food.
2. The GrowUp Box
Part greenhouse, part upcycled shipping container, The GrowUp Box features an aquaponic ecosystem. This is a prototype for future sustainable urban farms, which co-founder Kate Hofman stresses will become even more important as the climate changes and cities expand.
3. Spitalfields City Farm
Local residents opened the farm in 1978, when their garden allotments were demolished by developers. Today, the site is filled with herbs, produce and a butterfly garden brimming with flowers. Visitors can purchase kale, Jerusalem artichokes, eggs or whatever is in season.
The Skip Garden (Photo: Stephen Chung / Alamy Stock Photo)
4. The Skip Garden
Apple trees and flowering leeks look right at home sprouting from a row of dumpsters on a King’s Cross construction site. Flanked by beehives, chicken coops and a greenhouse built using recycled sash windows, this community allotment is largely self-sustaining.
5. Surrey Docks Farm
This education-focused, non-commercial farm has an orchard, an edible permaculture garden, a livestock yard and an apiary. Coriander, mint, rosemary and other aromatics are grown in the herb garden that’s also a habitat for grasshoppers, ladybirds and snails.
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This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine