Quantcast

Former WWII Bomb Shelter Now World’s First Underground Farm

Food

It's probably the last place you would think of for growing food, but about 100 feet below London, the one-year old startup Growing Underground is producing what it calls "sustainable and mouth-wateringly fresh micro greens and salad." It's the world's first subterranean farm. The site, a bomb shelter during World War II, was abandoned for 70 years until entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring came along.

Growing beds are stacked on top of each other inside this former World War II bomb shelter. Photo credit: Zero Carbon Food

Once fully operational, it's estimated that the system will be able to produce between 11,000 and 44,000 pounds of produce each year. “The whole system runs automatically, with an environmental computer controlling the lighting, temperature, nutrients and air flow,” Steven Dring, co-founder of the parent company, Zero Carbon Food, told Bloomberg.

The company says, "using the latest hydroponic systems and LED technology, our crops can be grown year-round in the perfect, pesticide-free environment that these forgotten tunnels provide." The company is currently growing radish and mustard leaf and also grows watercress, Thai basil, rocket, red vein sorrel, red amaranth, pea shoots, mizuna, micro rocket, garlic chive and coriander.

Growing Underground is producing a variety of microgreens, including watercress, Thai basil and mizuna. Photo credit: Zero Carbon Food

Growing Underground claims it is carbon neutral and is working on certification. And it touts a number of other environmental benefits. "Our hydroponics system uses 70 percent less water than traditional open-field farming, and because all the nutrients are kept within the closed-loop system we run no risk of contributing to agricultural run-off," says Growing Underground. They've pledged that their produce will travel no further than the M25 motorway that encircles Greater London.

It’s already partnered with local food delivery company Farmdrop and is in discussions with Whole Foods, says Bloomberg. And thanks to a partnership with chef Michel Roux, Jr., the company is partnering with local restaurants to deliver farm-to-table produce in under four hours. "It’s great to be involved in this ambitious project, for which we have ambitious growth plans," says Roux. "Above all it’s fantastic to source produce so fresh in the heart of Britain’s largest city."

Zero Carbon Food's co-founders Richard Ballard with Steven Dring and chef Michel Roux, Jr. (center). Photo credit: Zero Carbon Food

The project is just one of the many creative ways cities around the world are re-localizing agriculture. For cities with a vast underground network like London, subterranean farming makes sense. In the U.S., many cities are turning abandoned warehouses into indoor vertical farms. Sky Farms in Singapore has been heralded as “the world’s first low-carbon hydraulic driven urban vertical farm.” Mirai, a vertical farm in Japan, is producing up to 10,000 heads of lettuce a day. Newark, New Jersey will soon be home to the world’s largest indoor vertical farm, which is set to launch in November.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

5 Next Steps in the War Against Monsanto and Big Food

Shell Abandons Arctic Drilling Following ‘Disappointing’ Results

Watch Colbert Rip Into Republican Congressman for Boycotting Pope’s Speech

The Volkswagen Scandal: We Have Been Here Before

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

PhotoAlto / Laurence Mouton / Getty Images

By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

You've probably heard the buzz around collagen supplements and your skin by now. But is the hype really that promising? After all, research has pointed to both the benefits and downsides of collagen supplements — and for many beauty-conscious folk, collagen isn't vegan.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Marlene Cimons

Neil Pederson's introduction to tree rings came from a "sweet and kindly" college instructor, who nevertheless was "one of the most boring professors I'd ever experienced," Pederson said. "I swore tree rings off then and there." But they kept coming back to haunt him.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Aerial view of the explosion site of a chemical factory on March 22 in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province of China. Caixin Media / VCG / Getty Images)

At least 47 people have died in an explosion at a plant in Yancheng, China Thursday run by a chemical company with a history of environmental violations, Sky News reported.

Read More Show Less
A fishmonger in Elmina, a fishing port in the Central Region of Ghana. Environmental Justice Foundation

By Daisy Brickhill

Each morning, men living in fishing communities along Ghana's coastline push off in search of the day's catch. But when the boats come back to shore, it's the women who take over.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Sam Nickerson

Links between excess sugar in your diet and disease have been well-documented, but new research by Harvard's School of Public Health might make you even more wary of that next soda: it could increase your risk of an early death.

The study, published this week in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, found that drinking one or two sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) each day — like sodas or sports drinks — increases risk of an early death by 14 percent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Krystal B / Flickr

Tyson Foods is recalling approximately 69,093 pounds of frozen chicken strips because they may have been contaminated with pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The affected products were fully-cooked "Buffalo Style" and "Crispy" chicken strips with a "use by" date of Nov. 30, 2019 and an establishment number of "P-7221" on the back of the package.

"FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' freezers," the recall notice said. "Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Hrefna Palsdottir, MS

Cold cereals are an easy, convenient food.

Read More Show Less
A tractor spraying a field with pesticides in Orem, Utah. Aqua Mechanical / CC BY 2.0

Environmental exposure to pesticides, both before birth and during the first year of life, has been linked to an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the largest epidemiological study to date on the connection.

The study, published Wednesday in BMJ, found that pregnant women who lived within 2,000 meters (approximately 1.2 miles) of a highly-sprayed agricultural area in California had children who were 10 to 16 percent more likely to develop autism and 30 percent more likely to develop severe autism that impacted their intellectual ability. If the children were exposed to pesticides during their first year of life, the risk they would develop autism went up to 50 percent.

Read More Show Less