London. Richard Ballard and Steven Dring, two entrepreneurs from London, wanted to set up a carbon neutral farm to feed Londoners, so they were looking for a space that was close to the food scene, one where there was room to grow and didn’t cost a lot. What they found were air raid shelters in a tunnel system built 100 feet underground during World War II. They hadn’t been used for the last 60 years, and Growing Underground was born.
What they created – with help from a successful crowdfunding campaign – is the start of a small hydroponic farm. The temperature inside the insulated tunnels is a consistent 16ºC (60.8ºF), energy efficient LEDs are used as the primary light source, water is filtered and efficiently recycled, and no pesticides are needed due to the sheltered environment of the subterranean tunnel.
Currently they are growing a variety of leafy greens, shoots, and micro-greens in only one section of the tunnel. Plans are to expand into the other 7 sections, giving them 2.5 acres, as they grow their business.
Granted this is an unusual growing space, but as population numbers increase and energy costs soar, is this—in part— the future of urban farming?