When you picture a secret garden, you probably picture a quiet little green space on the grounds of a quaint English house. You might not picture it being inside an abandoned air raid shelter in the middle of London, but I can assure you, it's there. Far from your average urban farming project, two friends from the West Country of England spent a lot of time figuring out a sustainable grow space for the center of an increasing city population.
The result is a company free from dependence on fossil fuels and carbon use. Zero Carbon Food imagines the way that London could feed itself in the future.
Transporting food great distances is a huge cause of CO2 emissions in food production. This pair keeps it local and reuses a pre-existing structure.
The tunnels were dark and dingy when Zero Carbon Food visited them two years ago.
The tunnels were built during WWII to be used as a bomb shelter. The plan was to later convert the tunnel into an express Northern line, but the transportation initiatives were never realized.
The tunnel was used as temporary housing during the influx of the first group of West Indian migrant workers after the war. There was a severe labor shortage and 492 passengers arrived from Jamaica in 1948.
The decision to house the migrant workers there would later affect London's demographics as the newcomers found work at the places nearest to the tunnel. They began settling in the South London districts by Brixton and became what is now today's Caribbean community.
Here is how the exterior of the tunnel looked when Zero Carbon Food moved in two years ago.
So why underground? Well, for one, there isn't an abundance of space in London that has the capacity for farming. The tunnel is not only affordable, but it stays at an even 60 degrees all year round. Because there is no natural light, the plants are grown with LED lights powered by renewable energy.
After a year of working out all the challenges that come with such an unconventional growing space, Zero Carbon Food's first brand, Growing Underground launched last March in London supermarkets.
Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr. joined the company as a director.
Zero Carbon Foods has created a crowdfunding campaign for the final leg of their development as they hope to reduce London's carbon footprint in a significant way.
Credit: Zero Carbon Food