One thing we have learnt this week – growing low food miles

farming-underground-550x366How in the middle of a major city do you cultivate low food miles?  By growing underground that’s how.  Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr is now involved in what sounds a crazy scheme.  In fact that’s what he said when he met Richard Ballard and Steven Dring who have been working on the idea for the last 18 months.  According to an interview in the Evening Standard newspaper he was quoted as follows;

When I first met these guys I thought they were absolutely crazy. But when I visited the tunnels and sampled the delicious produce they are already growing down there I was blown away. The market for this produce is huge.

As we wrote in our book.

The resource constraints that the world is facing will
mean that industrial agriculture in its present form will inevitably
falter and fail – and in fact it never did feed the world adequately
anyway. We are all likely to be eating more locally in the future. But
if we don’t plan for the changes that will happen, many of us will
have to eat less.

What we didn’t envision was people would be carrying low food miles food up stairs from an underground den!

There are apparently loads of abandoned tunnels under London and this project uses tunnels last used during the blitz.  They have started growing small amounts of herbs to show proof of concept.  To grow them Ballard and  Dring are using a hydroponic system based around discarded carpet.  Obviously they have to provide light, but not just any old light, the mix of wavelengths would need to match that of the sun.  The pair have sourced some specialist LED’s.  When I heard them on the radio they said that they hoped to power the entire project using they own renewable generation.  Apart from the low food miles another advantage is a lack of weather extremes (constant 16 degrees C) and no pests.  What a great idea, I wonder which other cities could replicate the idea.  I know there are loads of tunnels under Liverpool…  The ultimate in low food miles-  grow it under your feet.  While you are here check out our lent guide No oil in the lamp – Lent guide.


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