Growing Underground farms greens in forgotten tunnels below London
The "world’s first underground urban farm" is set to start selling herbs and salads grown 33 m (108 ft) below the streets of London. Growing Underground is based in disused World War II tunnels. At less than two miles from the city-center, it promises farm-to-fork produce in less than four hours.
Growing Underground is the brainchild of West Country entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring and has been developed in partnership with Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr. It was conceived as a means of producing local and environmentally-friendly high-quality produce, with the disused tunnels providing the ideal location.
The tunnels are located below London's Northern Line underground rail link in the Clapham area of the city and were previously used as a bomb shelter for residents. The site currently being used was able to accommodate 8,000 people when needed. Now it provides a steady and controllable environment for Ballard and Dring to grow their crops.
The location allows for all year round urban farming, as it's unaffected by weather and seasonal changes. It is a pesticide-free environment and the hydroponics system employed is said to use 70 percent less water than traditional open-field farming. Likewise, the lighting and irrigation systems mean the crops can be grown with very little energy. What energy is used is sourced only from green suppliers.
Ultimately, Ballard and Dring's aim is to deliver fresh produce with zero effect on the environment. The first phase of the farm is coming to the final stages of preparation for commercial supply and the crops being produced include pea shoots, several varieties of radish, mustard, coriander, red amaranth, celery, parsley and rocket.
Delivery of the first supplies to a Covent Garden wholesaler are expected within weeks and there are plans for a direct-to-consumer offer to follow. In addition, a neighboring set of tunnels provides an opportunity for expansion further down the line.
Source: Growing Underground
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Still more than the free energy given to us by the sun.
> What energy is used is sourced only from green suppliers.
What are those green supplies?
If the electricity comes from either wind turbines or solar panels, it's anything but green.
Great to see this types of farms. That is how we could see self-efficient city.
Thus, food requires resources: be it transportation costs to get it to your location from somewhere where it does grow naturally or costs of artificial lighting, etc to grow it indoors in an area where it can not be grown naturally outdoors (at least not in all seasons).
Given that supplying food consumes resources, it is definitely possible to minimize resource consumption and it sounds like that is exactly what Growing Underground is doing. From the photos it is clear they are using LED grow lights, which are much more energy efficient than other types of lights for a variety of reasons I won't go into here, but you can read about yourself if you like: http://growlightcentral.com/blogs/news/23692545-led-vs-hps-grow-lights
I'm sure I could find a better article if I spent more time searching, but that one covers the basics. The only thing I'd add is that LED plant lights also require much less, if any, cooling than HPS lights, so you save a lot more on power by not needing any additional cooling equipment.
I think Growing Underground is a great idea and would like to see similar initiatives adopted all over the world. It may even be the best solution to combating global hunger. So instead of making negative comments about the drawbacks of this idea (there are always going to be drawbacks), maybe the other commenters would be better served coming up with a solution to those drawbacks or, even better, a better alternative idea of their own.