Farm:Shop Shows The Potential For Urban Growing
The population of the world is on a constant upward tangent, and with living and growing space very far from following pace, we are facing a food shortage in the future. However, the amount of concern in the media about climate change over the past decade or so has gradually begun to sink in to the general population, and the increase in sustainable living has been notable. This has begun to happen right from people adding solar panels and insulating their houses to large industry using computer controlled irrigation and solar energy as well.
Following in the steps of the innovative ‘Gotham Greens’ in Brooklyn, NY, London now has it’s very first produce shop where everything sold is grown either in or on the roof of the shop itself. These days, you might well associate Dalston with the latest in the series of reality programs, but the north east London borough is the first in the capital city to have a shop like this.
Housed in an old shelter for domestic abuse victims, it is still staffed by vulnerable people, and makes a really worthy combination of help project and sustainable produce shop. Inside the shop they produce salads on the first floor by a novel ‘aeroponic’ method, whereby seedlings are surrounded with nutrient rich air whilst in rockwool. When sufficiently strong they are moved downstairs to the hydroponic section, where the water is enriched by the waste products of a neighbouring tank of decorative fish. The final products are plucked fresh and sold on the spot, along with eggs from chickens that are housed in a coop on the roof.
Farm:Shop seek to widen their appeal by making the space part of the community; holding bands, poets and talks by night, kids clubs for after school and coffee and cakes in the cafe by day. It’s a sterling example of the ‘big society’ talked about the current government, as local people from hugely diverse backgrounds including an aquaponics company and painters and decorators, have lent their skills to make the project work. It has also opened the eyes of the founders to how much small scale production goes on behind closed doors around London, from hydroponic tomatoes on a window sills to carp for the Jewish market in a back garden pond. Staffed mainly by volunteers, it’s a great example of how non-green fingered people can get involved and create a successful, responsible and carbon neutral business….and in the middle of a huge city.