England’s large, underground bomb shelters are relics of the hardships and tragedies of World War II. Recently, these spaces have been remodeled for new uses, including growing food.
Growing Underground (@growing_underground), a London-based company, has converted some of this space into a hydroponic farm producing organic greens.
Hydroponics is a technique for growing plants without any dirt. Instead, the grower places seeds in a wet growing medium like sand or gravel — or in the case of Growing Underground, mats made of recycled carpet fibers. This means plants can grow anywhere, including indoors under special lighting that replaces sunlight.
These are ideal conditions for growing microgreens — young, tasty sprouts from plants like peas, cilantro, and sunflowers that don’t need much space or many additional nutrients to grow.
“Without insects, weeds, or weather to contend with, everything can be farmed without any pest treatments,” they explain. “Water flowing through the trays can be cleaned with up to 90% used in the plants again, and once harvested, the microgreens are packed by hand just a few meters away into widely recyclable tubs.”
Since these greens are being grown right in London itself, city-dwellers will have access to incredibly fresh organic produce on the same day it’s harvested. Future development of hydroponic farms could lead to a huge variety of fresh foods becoming easier to access — all without taking up space on the city’s crowded streets.
Meanwhile, reusing the water, avoiding pesticides, and even choosing recyclable packaging makes this a clean, non-polluting project, especially compared to many large commercial farms that may overuse chemical treatments for their plants.
“What a fab way to use the space,” one user comments on the Abel & Cole video.
Another agrees, saying: “So good to see food supply innovation at work and supported by a leading light of sustainability. Keep it up!”
Growing Underground is sure to do just that, as Abel & Cole has chosen the company as a supplier for its Future Food program.