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One hundred feet below the streets of London, a 2.5-acre farm will soon sell fresh veggies grown on a not-so-traditional farm.
Dubbing it a “food revolution” underneath your feet, Zero Carbon Food owners Richard Ballard and Steven Dring have teamed up with two-star Michelin chef Michel Roux Jr. to open their Growing Underground farm later this year. Located under the Northern Line near Clapham North tube station, the Growing Underground will offer leafy greens, micro-greens and herbs grown using LED lights and a hydroponics system.
“When I first met these guys I thought they were absolutely crazy,” said Roux, who operates Le Gavroche in London and has appeared on Hell’s Kitchen and other shows.
“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.”
The team has conducted trials for the last 18 months for the farm that will be carbon neutral, according to a news release. The 100 feet of Earth above the tunnels are expected to keep temperatures around 16 degrees centigrade all year while consuming minimal energy. The company would get any energy needs from green suppliers. Zero Carbon Food says its system uses about 70 percent less water than open-field farms.
“Integrating farming into the urban environment makes a huge amount of sense and we’re delighted that we’re going to make it a reality,” Ballard said.
Ballard and Dring will sell their produce to area markets, restaurants and wholesalers. One confirmed customer is the nearby New Covent Garden Market. The first Growing Underground produce will be available at restaurants and shops by late summer.
The first crops will include pea shoots, broccoli, garlic chives, mustard leaves, radish, coriander and Thai basil. Growing Underground will also grow and sell edible flowers and miniature vegetables. Stage-two crops will include heritage tomato varieties and mushrooms.
“There is no ‘could’, ‘might’ or ‘maybe’ about our underground farm,” Ballard said. “We will be up and running and will be supplying produce later this year.”