This month will see ‘Growing Underground’, the innovative farm project from Michel Roux Jr and co-founders Richard Ballard and Steven Dring, open its doors for trading.
Its home will not only be located in central London, but under it! The farm forms part of a disused World War II bomb shelter with a capacity of up to 8,000 people, located under Clapham Common tube station on the Northern Line.
A year and a half ago, entrepreneurs Ballard and Dring completed a crowd funding exercise to attract interest for the project that will revolutionise urban farming.Speaking about the first phase of the farm Richard Ballard said,
“We’re delighted that our first shoots will be delivered to the surface in the next few weeks…after eighteen months of research, development, growing trials – and tribulations – we’re about to start supplying into the market.”
The shelter has been cleaned, converted and made fit for purpose in the 18-month bid to launch the campaign.Growing Underground will be a fully functioning, state-of-the-art low-energy farm with a sophisticated irrigation and lighting system. The sealed clean-room will house the propagating seeds, all of which will be grown at very low energy and with the help of a bespoke ventilation system.
Michelin-star chef Michel Roux Jr will also be collaborating with the project in a bid to showcase the fine quality of the fare the farm will produce. Speaking about the farm he said:
“I’m looking forward to creating my first dish using produce from the world’s first underground urban farm, less than two miles as the crow flies from the heart of London.It’s great to be involved in this ambitious project, for which we have equally ambitious growth plans. Above all, it’s fantastic to be able to source produce that is so fresh in the heart of Britain’s largest city.”
With a mission to provide local farm fresh produce with zero effect on the environment, all energy is sourced from green providers, and all measures have been put in place to make sure this promise is delivered.
The Mayor Boris Johnson has described the venture as being:
“A fine example of the dynamic startups that are helping London lead the world in green business innovation. I want even more entrepreneurs to help create these brilliant concepts that are delivering thousands of jobs and boosting London’s green economy to almost £30 billion a year. I wish Growing Underground every success.”
So, all that is left for Growing Underground now is to start trading.The first step will be to supply the busy wholesale markets at Covent Garden, before eventually branching out and providing a direct-to-consumer service.