Growing Underground – an underground farm housed 33 metres below the busy London streets of Clapham – is providing fertile ground for fresh micro greens and salad leaves to be grown sustainably.
The farm sits inside a WWII bomb shelter. Eight of these shelters were built across London during the war, and they were each built to house around 8,000 people. The tunnel system is 6,500m2 and Growing Underground currently only use 1/6th of the space.
Using the latest hydroponic systems and LED technology, crops are grown year-round in the pesticide-free environment that these forgotten tunnels provide.
The process takes place entirely underground, from the sowing of the seeds to the harvesting and packaging.
Growing Underground, which was founded in 2012 by Richard Ballard and Steven Dring, prioritise sustainable growing practices, and are working towards carbon neutral certification. The company now stock their salad leaves at Waitrose and M&S. They also provide to wholesalers, local restaurants, and Londoners through Farmdrop.
Richard Ballard and Steven Dring explained: “Our greens are unaffected by the weather and seasonal changes, and thanks to our prime location, we reduce the need to import crops and drastically reduce the food miles for retailers and consumers.
“Our hydroponics system uses 70% less water than traditional open-field farming, and all nutrients are kept within the closed-loop system removing any risk of agricultural run-off.
“Since we’re limiting food miles and keeping our produce local, our leaves can be in your kitchen within 4 hours of being picked and packed.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea