London dwellers can get their five a day nutritionally and sustainably with little environmental impact thanks to GrowUp Urban Farms.
GrowUp Urban Farms grow fresh, sustainably produced salads and greens in the city using a method called “aquaponics”. The company supply greens – including pea shoots, baby kale, rocket and Chinese celery – to restaurants and retailers in London, and to home delivery services including Farmdrop.
Starting life back in 2013 as the GrowUp Box – an upcycled shipping container, based in east London’s Stratford, with a greenhouse built on top – GrowUp Urban Farms’ method of aquaponics involve the greens growing on water in a tank which also contains fish, mainly tilapia. Nutrients from the fish waste feed the plants, and in turn the plants clean the water for the fish.
GrowUp was founded in 2013 by Kate Hofman and Tom Webster to build sustainable commercial urban farms growing food for local markets. Acting like a demo or “testing station”, the GrowUp Box enabled the team “through trial, error and persistence, to gauge how aquaponically grown produce grows, looks and tastes”.
Now the team are building the UK’s first aquaponic, vertical urban farm, known as Unit 84, inside an industrial warehouse in Beckton.
The farm combines two well-established farming practices – aquaculture (farming fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in a nutrient solution without soil) in a recirculating system. The 6,000 square feet of growing space will produce more than 20,000 kg of sustainable salads and herbs (enough for 200,000 salad bags) and 4,000 kg of fish each year.
The way food is grown now is unsustainable. GrowUp Urban Farms set out to address some of these issues, by using aquaponic and vertical growing techniques to build farms in cities, as well as making use of neglected inner-city spaces including empty rooftop and brownfield sites.
The GrowUp Team added: “All our produce is sustainably grown and delivered locally – reconnecting people with the way food is produced and what it takes to produce it. With growing awareness and demand for ethically produced food, GrowUp is well-positioned to become an innovator in food production that is well-adapted to an urban environment.”
All pics: © GrowUp Urban Farms
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a journalist who writes about sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com