The Piccalilly Line: how a disused Tube tunnel became London’s first urban farm

The Piccalilly Line: how a disused Tube tunnel became London’s first urban farm

3 July 2015 | By Joe Quirke

An urban farm located in a disused London Underground tunnel has started to sell produce to the capital’s markets and restaurants.

The 170 square metre carbon neutral “Growing Underground” farm is situated 33m under the south London borough of Clapham in tunnels that were last used as a bomb shelter during the Blitz.

The farm combines hydroponics, which uses a nutrient solutions rather than soil, and LED lighting to grow its crops. The hydroponic system requires 70% less water than traditional open-field farming and also means that crops can be grown all year.

Growing Underground founders Richard Ballard and Steven Dring with Michel Roux Jr (Growing Underground)

The venture was begun by West Country entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring to produce a variety of vegetables and herbs, including celery, rocket, parsley, radish and mustard leaf.

Growing Underground says its produce can go from farm to fork in under four hours.

Michel Roux Jr, presenter of the BBC’s Masterchef programme, said: “The quality of these ingredients is second to none; they are going to be picked and delivered practically on the day, and you can’t get fresher than that.”

(Growing Underground)

The project was started in an attempt to bring food production back into the capital.

The tunnels used by Growing Underground could shelter 8,000 people during wartime air raids.

Watch a four minute “pitch” from Growing Underground here.

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