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Steven & Richard: The Vertical Farmers

Steven Dring and Richard Ballard are growing edible crops in London’s first underground farm.

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Steven Dring and Richard Ballard
Steven Dring and Richard Ballard

Inside London’s first underground farm

 

"Welcome to the agricultural revolution! 33 metres below the busy streets of London’s Clapham Common, you will find us co-managing Growing Underground, the world’s first underground, urban farm.

 

"In what was once a former World War II air raid shelter, we have transformed the space to apply the most advanced growing technology to produce mouth-wateringly fresh micro greens, herbs and salad leaves for our customers to enjoy.

 

"We are childhood friends and we have one thing in common – we know our climates are changing, the world population is rising and we don’t want to keep flying stuff across the world.

 

Visit the website


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"Our team of 24 grow around 20 different types of greens"
"Our team of 24 grow around 20 different types of greens"

"At 7,000 square feet, the tunnels once had the capacity to accommodate up to 8,000 people from the bombing of WWII, but today we work in a controlled environment which is home to trays of lush produce which can be picked, packed and on your plate in as little as four hours.

 

"Our team of 24 grow around 20 different types of greens to choose from including broccoli, pea shoots, rocket, red mustard, pink stem radish, garlic chives, fennel and coriander.

 

"Growing Underground uses hydroponics, a system where plants are grown without soil and with the help of low-energy LED lights.

 

"This allows each crop to grow in a carefully controlled, pest-free environment, and the farmers to produce plants of consistent quality, regardless of the whether the city above is being graced with blazing sunshine or pelted with relentless rain.

"At 7,000 square feet, the tunnels once could protect up to 8,000 people from bombs during WWII"
"At 7,000 square feet, the tunnels once could protect up to 8,000 people from bombs during WWII"

"Our produce is now stocked in major supermarkets and used by top chefs and we work closely with Michel Roux Jr, who has been named a non-executive director of the company.

 

"The business now sells to local restaurants including Mr Roux’s Michelin-starred celebrity haunt, Le Gavroche in Mayfair, as well as other food service outlets and retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Waitrose.

 

"Looking to the future we will make further use of the of the abandoned tunnel spaces and will incorporate a Research and Development area. This area will allow us to improve our harvests, their nutrition and the days under light they need.

Did you know?

 

Steven Dring and Richard Ballard were named in the Evening Standard Progress 1000: London’s Top Leaders in Technology

 

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Watch the video: #ThisIsAgriculture

As part of National Careers Week #ThisIsAgriculture showcases agriculture at the cutting edge of modern technology and at the forefront of innovations in key areas, such as IT, forensics, engineering, automation and design.

 

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