Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Food of the future: London air raid shelter to underground farm


LONDON — In an underground World War II air raid shelter where London tube trains can be heard rattling overhead, aromatic coriander leaves tilt towards the pink glow of LED bulbs — a vision of how farms could look in the future.

Zero Carbon Farms grows herbs and salads in Clapham, south London, a densely populated area with no room for conventional agriculture. But 30 meters below ground there is a kilometer of tunnels, and technology has made farming here a reality.

Seven years after its first harvest, the company will soon double its growing space, responding to strong demand for its peashoots, rocket, and watercress from major British retailers like Marks & Spencer and local restaurants.

Buyers like the freshness of the produce, which can make it onto a diner’s plate within two hours of harvesting, as well as its arrival into the city without racking up emissions by air or from a long journey.

“The future is very, very bright for this industry and I think that what really is going to be the fundamental pivot point is the right application of technology,” said the farm’s head grower Tommaso Vermeir.

Vertical farming, the name given to the production of crops in a series of stacked levels, often in a controlled environment, is a fast-growing industry with billions of dollars being pumped into projects across the globe.

It is seen as part of the solution to the food security challenge posed by population expansion at a time when climate change and geopolitics threaten supply. But growing by artificial light is more energy intensive than conventional farming and the high costs of production have been a challenge for vertical farms across the world.

“What makes this industry so exciting and challenging is that no one’s quite cracked it,” said Zero Carbon Farm’s business development director Olivia O’Brien.

INBUILT INSULATIONThe farm’s subterranean location provides inbuilt insulation from the cold. The company has what it calls “virtual private wiring” bringing in energy from renewable sources.

Energy prices have soared this year but Mr. Vermeir said an arrangement with supplier Octopus Energy’s business unit gave it a better price than if it were taking energy from the grid like other customers.

Farming here uses 70-90% less water and 95% less fertilizer than typical agriculture. Growing takes place all year round at faster rates.

Zero Carbon Farms reckons it has an edge over the dozens of other vertical farm projects springing up in Britain because of its sustainable credentials and its years of experience, which it hopes will translate into higher yields from the new farm space.

Seeds are sowed on carpet off cuts and although there is no soil on this farm, workers do wear a uniform which includes the classic farming accessory of Wellington boots.

Slicing leaves from their stems with a huge knife, farm supervisor Riley Anderson, 27, one of the company’s 35 employees, said this wasn’t a typical London job.

“I didn’t want to work in an office. I wanted to do something different and this certainly ticks the boxes,” he said. — Reuters

Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!



CODY LOGAN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS SYDNEY — The Australian government will examine surveillance technology used in offices of the defense department, Defence Minister Richard Marles said...


The north view of the Manhattan skyline is seen from the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan, New...


HONG KONG — The world should “calm down” about the possibility of new COVID-19 variants circulating in China, leading Chinese scientist George Gao said....


Image by Marco Verch/CC BY 2.0 Medical advances have made cancer treatable even at stage 4, or when the disease has spread to other...


BW FILE PHOTO Thanks to the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, the world is many times richer in valuable lessons to avoid another crisis....


PRESIDENT FERDINAND R. MARCOS, JR. welcomes United States Defense Chief Lloyd Austin III at Malacañang Palace on Feb. 2. — NOEL B. PABALATE/PPA POOL...

You May Also Like


COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the mental health of Filipinos across different groups all over the archipelago. From frontline workers, parents balancing...


REUTERS By Luz Wendy T. Noble, Reporter The country’s foreign exchange buffers slightly increased as of end-October as the value of the central bank’s...


BW FILE PHOTO GROSS BORROWINGS by the National Government reached P2.6 trillion as of end-September as it continued to raise funds to respond to...


KARASOLAR.COM TENA, Ecuador — Ecuador’s rainforest Achuar people say their ancestors long dreamed of a “fire canoe” or “electric fish” that would let them...

Disclaimer: Respect, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2022 Respect Investment. All Rights Reserved.