100 feet beneath the surface, below even the level of the London Underground, there is another layer of World War Two shelters where something amazing is coming to life.
Richard Ballard and Steven Dring are behind Growing Underground, experimentally introducing hydroponic systems to 2.5 acres of abandoned subterranean passages right in the UK’s capital city.
The closed-loop nature of their approach means that weather and environmental factors (like rodents and runoff) are nothing to worry about. There are other advantages of their situation, too: 70% less water is needed to grow below ground, and their agricultural system is self-recycling, low-maintenance, pesticide-free and carbon-neutral.
Their unique and central location means they can provide ultra-local micro-greens to restaurants, wholesalers and retail vendors right above where they grow, all in a matter of hours.
Their planned crops so far range from pea shoots and broccoli to garlic chives and mustard leaf, not to mention edible flowers and miniature vegetables. Mushrooms and tomatoes are also on the horizon.
From the company: “Because we have total control over their environment, each tiny leaf tastes as amazing as the last and because they are unaffected by the weather and seasonal changes, we can reduce the need to import crops and drastically reduce the food miles for retailers and consumers.”