Author: anoushka


Central Saint Martins Degree Show Two

It’s degree show season and we kicked of with Central Saint Martins Degree Show Two last week.

Starting with MA Material Futures which was as always full of the weird and wonderful. With speculative and critical design subjects contextualised through making and the tangible we were guaranteed to find some surprises around the corner of that neon lit wall. With the Labs concern for material exploration and the utilisation of resources the projects that stood out all dealt with materials commonly viewed as waste. From organic waste streams that are prolific and so often discarded as useless to the man made world of plastic we seem to have created.

Sinae Kim

Perhaps the most progressive use of a waste stream was presented by Sinae Kim with her project ‘This is urine’. As the title suggests we were confronted with a series of organic vessels entirely crafted from urine. Their was a sense of the prehistoric about them. Each piece was made using human urine – ‘extracting the minerals to produce clay, distilling it to form a natural glaze and eventually crafting ceramic vessels that nod to the origin of this humble, abundant and completely under-utilised natural resource.’

With each of us producing around 2 litres of urine daily, globally that scales up to over 10.5 billion litres every single day being flushed away – it is a resource that perhaps would make many uncomfortable but clearly has great potential and purpose.

This is urine by Sinae Kim

‘This is urine’ by Sinae Kim

Lulu Wang

Lulu Wang’s project ‘Increasing the value of rice husk’ offered a practical and poetic solution to eliminating the burning of waste rice husk that takes place yearly throughout China. By creating simple but necessary tools such as chop sticks and writing implements with this by-product of the rice farming industry Lulu also tackles the ‘annual haze, a smog that engulfs China and is one of the largest contributors to declining public health.’

Increasing the value of rice husk by Lulu Wang

‘Increasing the value of rice husk’ by Lulu Wang

We saw the much publicised horror of plastic waste tackled by students Charlotte Kidger and Katie May Boyd both utilising this as a raw material to make with.

Charlotte Kidger

Charlotte’s project ‘Industrial Craft’ explored making a new composite from polyurethane foam dust a waste product from CNC milling. By exploring this new material from a hands on practice she has successfully created a new desirable material, with objects that are visually appealing and will no doubt hold value.

Industrial Craft by Charlotte Kidger

‘Industrial Craft’ by Charlotte Kidger

Katie May Boyd

Whilst Katie’s project ‘Foreign Garbage’ focusing on expanded polystyrene (EPS) solely used for packaging made commentary on societies excessive consumption, with little regard to the waste that constantly buying produces. With the recent ban China has brought in, refusing to take any more of our waste the beckoning cat or Maneki-neko symbolises our plastic obsession and adds an element of humour to an otherwise bleak topic.  The project acts as an important ‘tool for discussion around waste.’

Foreign Garbage by Katie May Boyd

‘Foreign Garbage’ by Katie May Boyd

At MA Industrial Designs show the projects we were struck by focused more heavily on growing, utilising tech, open source and hacking to grow, survive and flourish in the city.

Zoe Kahane

One of our favourites was ‘Green Me’ by Zoe Kahane – a project that’s simplicity spoke volumes. ‘Greening the City through active citizen participation’ – the project enables and encourages citizens to green their city, with the notion of positive grafitti the act benefits the environment and people. Using old socks and an easily assembled open source structure the design attaches to railings, lamp columns, and fencing panels temporarily, causing no damage and the ability to be moved and changed. By encouraging citizens to take ownership of their public spaces and actively improve the environment this project acts as a small step that collectively could amount to large change.

Green Me by Zoe Kahane

Green Me by Zoe Kahane

‘Green Me’ by Zoe Kahane

Open Design & Manufacturing

Green Lab is partnered with University of the Arts London (UAL) as part of an EU funded project OD&M (Open Design & Manufacturing). The project connects universities, makerspaces and enterprises to work collaboratively encouraging open-design principles, innovative practice, and sharing ethos to design towards social good.

As a makerspace with a concern for re-designing complex urban food, water and waste systems Green Lab values open-source design and innovation to tackle important challenges for the future and knowledge exchange is fundamental to achieving sustainable practice on a global scale.

OD&M Knowledge

Green Lab took part in ‘Arts Work of the Future’ by Digital Maker Collective at the TATE Exchange from 6th – 11th March 2018. The week long residency was a collaboration between Digital Maker Collective ( a collective of students, alumni & staff from Camberwell, Chelsea & Wimbledon, UAL), MA Industrial Design students from Central Saint Martins and makerspaces – Green Lab and Fab Lab Lodz. The residency encouraged open design principles and knowledge exchange, working collaboratively and inviting the community to engage with and partake in the creation of the work.

Green Lab collaborated with a team of students & staff from Digital Maker Collective to create a Growing Space – an indoor greenhouse exploring indoor farming and sustainable food systems, built using end of life materials and designed to be modular, resulting in the structure physically growing as the week went on alongside the plants. The space invited the public to add sections as they wished, creating a network of growing spaces, planting seedlings in recycled plastic bottles and cups as they went. The design was purposefully self explanatory and easy to assemble, encouraging people of all abilities to engage with building it.

Chillis growing

The space challenged preconceived perceptions of the ability to grow indoors and within the city, encouraging creativity when thinking of the materials and equipment required. By collecting locally salvaged and recycled materials from our urban landscape it poses to redefine the value of objects. As well as producing edible crops the space created a temporary green environment, providing a peaceful space to relax.

Green Lab resident Edward Hill talked of sustainable growing within urban environments, holding a bucket hydroponics workshop – with a few easily accessible and non specialist pieces of equipment you can pick up at a hardware shop (a bucket and lid, rain gullies, piping and a pump) Ed demonstrated how to successfully grow mint in a vertical wall system with just water and nutrients, eliminating the need for soil and space. To read more about the project at the TATE Exchange click here.

Growing space

Gauging the success of building a temporary structure for growing at the TATE Exchange Green Lab has continued the project with a group of students and staff from Chelsea. We are in the process of developing an open-design and modular structure to grow both edible and foliage plants indoors. Throughout a series of workshop’s we have been designing an open source vertical ‘wall’. For this structure we began to consider a set of design parameters and considerations to ensure we are creating in a sustainably aware way. Modularity and open source have directed the design at each step of the process as well as a focus on material exploration and awareness.

We are now in the process of creating a methodology for design, building ‘Open-design lenses’ to act as a series of steps and considerations needed to achieve sustainable open design that’s accessible, collaborative and socially driven. To test our lenses we will create a number of short projects that innovate current urban systems, creating products and environments of change. The OD&M project is a 3 year project ending in December 2019, to find out more have a look here.

Our fermentation resident launches Kompassion Kombucha

Our fermentation expert and Green Lab resident Jon Katona launched Kompassion Kombucha this month. Having spent the last year experimenting with his brewing technique and perfecting his flavours he has officially taken his booch to market.

Jon initially got involved with the lab when we were looking for residents to explore the art of fermentation. Having been introduced to this wonder elixir by a friend and learning how simple it was to make and the multiple health benefits it has, he decided to experiment with making some of his own.

His process was very organic, initially wanting to share his new knowledge with others he started to host workshops at the lab, for people to come and learn how to brew their own kombucha. To keep up with the demand for his workshops he upped his brewing amounts, and as he discovered how simple it was to scale up he decided to take it to market.

Brewed in Bermondsey

Having spent the last 6 years as a bicycle courier Jon decided to utilise his cargo bike and continue to peddle the streets of London, but this time with his own product. Converting his bike into a mobile bicycle bar, he keeps his carbon footprint minimal and his stall compact.

His kombucha is made with organic cane sugar, ceylon black tea and currently has 2 signature flavours; Sarsaparilla Root & Scotch Bonnet Chilli. He is continuing his flavour research and will be expanding his flavours by infusing his kombucha with other medicinal roots, herbs, flowers & fruits.

Booch Bar

Having a booch bar as his market stall also enables the re-use of bottles minimizing single-use packaging. You can get a glass bottle filled up which can then be recycled or re-used, or you can buy a larger re-usable bottle. There’s also the option to bring your own vessel to be filled up and if you can’t resist drinking a glass there and then you can pay a small deposit for a cup which will be refunded when you return it after use.

Having sold out on his first market day, he will now be at Brockley Market most Saturday’s dispensing this magical drink and he will soon be seen at Deptford Bites Market too. Kombucha will also be available for collection from Green Lab, drop an email to kombucha@kompassion.co.uk to arrange.

Buy a bottle

All hail the mighty Pea! Seedlips beautiful garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

Last night we had the wonderful experience of visiting the Seedlip garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Winning Gold for their ‘Space to Grow’ garden we were keen to see the mighty Pea in all it’s glory. As an ode to this wonderfully familiar veg the entire garden was made up of plants from the Fabaceae family, including a world wide debut of the new Speckled Snap Pea.

Among this newcomer sat multiple varieties of pea, as well as beautiful Lupins, Blue Wild Indigo, the Carob Tree, Red Clover and Legumes.

Seedlip Garden Species

With much of Chelsea focused on foliage plants it was wonderful to Seedlip incorporate so many edible species in to their garden. Growing vegetables in our own gardens is becoming increasingly popular, and with the urban agriculture movement, many people in cities are finding and utilising small spaces to get green fingered – as a showcase for the creme de la creme of garden design it’s incredibly important Chelsea Flower Show adapts to encourage more people to grow both edibles and natives species to boost biodiversity and encourage wildlife back into our gardens.

All in all it was PEAliciously PEAutiful.

Seedlip Lupins

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SEEDLIP & THEIR PEAS.

Green Lab visit to Biohm

Today we had the chance to visit our new friends at Biohm and hear about their use of mycelium and biomaterials to create a more sustainable construction industry. We were shown around by founder Ehab Sayed and learnt more about their material research and incredible plans for the future.

Their mission is to innovate the construction industry to create a healthier and more sustainable built environment, with human centered design and bio materials at their core. Set to challenge the current model of mass construction that rarely considers the negative impact on both the surrounding environment but also on the future inhabitants well being.

They are currently in the materials research phase developing biomaterials from mycelium and other food waste to create alternative living and sustainable materials for insulation and other building purposes. By growing materials and utilising food waste these materials are minimising the wasteful practice often associated with building.

Biohm

‘Placing biological systems at the heart of our inspiration, we combine ideologies of the circular economy and human-centred design with future-tech to create a step-change in building technologies, materials and manufacturing methods.

we collaborate with industrial and academic partners to lead the construction industry towards a circular future that is inspired by nature and driven by our human, environmental and economic needs.’

Ehab Sayad will be speaking about the amazing work they are doing at Biohm at ‘A Mushroom Matter’ a talk curated by Pauline Roques and hosted at Green Lab on Tuesday 29th May from 7-9pm, make sure you get a ticket to hear more about the exciting changes the future holds.

GET TICKETS

The Green Lab team visit Gee Vee Enterprises Ltd. farm at Netherhall Nursery

Last week the Green Lab team spent the day exploring the immense glasshouses and hydroponic systems of Netherhall Nursey – a sweet pepper farm run by our partner and advisor John Cappalonga. It was eye opening to see commercial hydroponics systems built for scale and serious production compared to the ‘slightly’ smaller ones we have set up at the lab.

Green Lab team

Netherhall Nursery is owned by Gee Vee Enterprises Ltd and is located in the heart of the Lea Valley commerical glasshouse district 12 miles north of London. The nursery currently hosts 3 hectares of hydroponic sweet pepper production & is planning to diversify its output by investing in a state of the art aquaponics system in 2020. This investment represents not only commercial benefits, but also interests in sustainable produce and food security in the future, aquaponics being at the forefront of biodiversity. Gee Vee Enterprises Ltd. will become a commerical leader of de-coupled systems in the UK.

Yellow Pepper

With aquaponics being a key area of development for the Lab we will hopefully be able to help research and implement the systems at Netherhall Nursery, providing a testing site for scale that we could only dream of. The collaboration between the lab and John is also extremely important to us as it connects us to the industry actually producing the food that ends up in our supermarkets, bonding the urban agriculture movement to real farming and food production. His knowledge of process, scale and production is invaluable, as is his expertise in growing, something that is learned from years of contact with your crops and growing up in a farming environment. With most of the lab residents only recently venturing into growing and producing food within the city, any expertise from seasoned pro’s is most welcome.

Hydroponic growing lines

 

Green Lab is looking for a new home! can you help?

We need your help!!!

We’re calling on all of you to help find us our new home. Having out-grown our current site we are looking for a new space to call home in the next 6 months or so. It will house our community of makers, researchers and startups searching for alternative solutions to complex urban food, water and waste challenges. Design is at our core and we encourage creativity, collaboration, experimentation and play. We incubate ideas that make our urban food systems more productive and resilient, and that can put more natural and healthy food on our tables.

We are quite a messy bunch, replacing the grey concrete of London with greenery where we can, but we like to think we add charm and a bit of imagination to any space we inhabit. As we continue to grow our efforts will be felt within the direct community we call home, hosting a plethora of free events and workshops to get people through our doors, growing, rethinking and sparking change in the day to day drum of the city.

We need 4000 – 16000 sq.ft to house our lab – this will be made up of desk space with access to all of our facilities with digital makerspace, growing space, an event area that can also be used for our education program working with schools. We would also love to grow our urban farm – creating opportunities for outreach and becoming a hub for the community to come together to discuss health and well being.

Whilst we love Bermondsey & Southwark we are happy to embrace all London boroughs, we’re not picky. So if there’s a disused site you amble past daily that springs to mind, or you know a friend of a friend of a friend who has a connection to a developer, council or building please get in touch and we can explore our options.

Email us at newhome@greenlab.org

 

Prometheus food lab travels to the Italian Alps to speak at a conference held by Dolomitti Contemporanee

Our resident Lorenzo Barbasetti di Prun has traveled to the Italian Alps this week to speak at Direct Current Method, a conference held by Dolomitti Contemporanee about his ambition of starting Prometheus, an open food lab based in the Dolomite region to promote regeneration of a neglected area. Lorenzo has summarised the conference and his contribution to it below for us:

Can researching edibles contribute to regenerating landscapes in remote areas?

Of course. That is what Prometheus, our open food lab based in the Dolomites, believes.
To present this belief we have been invited to take part in Direct Current Method, the conference curated by Dolomiti Contemporanee addressing the challenges and opportunities in the regeneration of territories in the Dolomites, on the 20th of April.

I still struggle to define exactly what Dolomiti Contemporanee is, despite having worked closely with them for a while now.  They are the organisation giving Prometheus food lab a space and constant support. Using their own words ‘Dolomiti Contemporanee is a laboratory for visual arts in space’. I would say it is a process, a catalyst for the regeneration of underestimated spaces. It acts like a wishful thinker pioneer in those places that used to be of crucial importance for their communities, making them fertile again; vibrant through cultural practice.

The conference will be an occasion to gather a selection of eminent projects operating on different levels in the Italian Alps, both within and outside the Dolomites. The speakers are called to bring their practices to the strategic yet critic mountain space, both looking at the environment on a wider context and focusing on specific abandoned or underused sites, the potential of which is still intact.
One of those in fact will be the frame of our reflections; the impressively regenerated hydroelectric power plant in Malnisio, Friuli Venezia Giulia that also offered the pretext for the title.

Direct Current Method addresses the narrowness of certain cultural and social policies that are intermittently proving themselves to be inconsistent and ephemeral, not able to root in the place and grow with the community. On the other hand culture intended by DC as the human cognitive and creative, planning and operational function is a constant flux, able to activate or re-activate; to nourish virtuous and sustainable practices.

The architect Edoardo Gellner, demiurge of the former ENI Village in Borca di Cadore refers to landscape as the combination of the natural environment and human activity.

It is therefore impossible to talk about landscape regeneration without considering food. The relationship between humans and food is obvious, but human strategies to get nutrients nowadays can be destructive both when involving massive exploitation of the land or totally neglecting it. Placing resilience and survival as the goal of humankind it is equally as dangerous as the deforestation of an hectare of virgin forest and the abandonment of the same surface of grazing land. In both cases the local community is deprived of its sustenance and its culture. In fact food is not only nutrition but it carries with it a set of values and knowledge which is unique. At the same time the cultural practices related to food production, preservation, transformation and consumption have been historically developed to take as much as possible from the environment whilst simultaneously preserving it, so that it could keep providing food and sustain the community year after year.

Since the end of the last World War the alpine areas have been experiencing an actual exodus towards the big industrial poles all over the world and more recently the phenomenon has worsened due to policies that impose cuts to local services and the subsequent weakening of the social fabric. This meant a huge cultural loss even in terms of adaptability and now that some bold and adventurous people want to return to live in these spaces, escaping from cities and urban living, their goal is likely to fail because so much has already been lost from these regions. The direct keepers of knowledge and competences are gone, the grazing land has been invaded by untamed forests, seeds selected for generations have been lost. Even laws have adapted to a different conception of life and landscape and don’t fit to these places anymore.

The modern forms of thoughtless tourism looking for amusement; the bowing down of privates and institutions to investors’ blackmailing has worsened the already fragile situation of these lands and their communities. The illusory flow of capitals and the revivals of traditions as a means of entertainment have eventually weakened the community fabric, exploiting local resources and have contributed an unsustainable economy in an environment with fragile balances. Locals gave up many of the strategies that had taken centuries to be developed, losing awareness, knowledge and therefore resilience.

Prometheus Lab logo

Prometheus_lab is a research hub aimed to explore the remote places of our minds to generate, collect and (re)distribute knowledge about food. It operates as a cultural device to re-activate awareness and support resilience in those neglected places that even being right in front of our eyes are completely invisible to our sensibility because we’re not educated to recognise their potential.

If you think about the basic human needs – food is the most important; there is no life without food and there is no doubt at the same time that it is the first and most powerful element shaping the landscapes we live in. It is able to change the perspective with which we look at the world, it is capable of flipped over the frameworks of meaning that relegate places to remoteness. Remoteness as a mental state. We are exploring these remote locations of the mind and culture as if they were another planet entirely. We are trans-dimensional explorers in this space that is both virginal and yet already violated in the most intimate meaning of the word. We look for intelligent life forms that may be able to generate intelligent forms of life.

Winter foraging sessionExpedition #1: Winter Foraging Session. photo: Giulia Fassina

Quite surprisingly my experience in London has revealed concerns for food exploration in a way I would never have expected. I had never thought there was anything remote about a densely populated mega city with 11 million inhabitants. Despite the large disposal of social and economic resources, food is still a problem which had been underestimated until Brexit abruptly changed the game. More than half of the food consumed in the UK comes from abroad and the raising tariffs applied to imported goods impose not only organisations but also citizens to explore new solutions. Or rather, old ones. In fact at the last openhouse event hosted at Green Lab we reflected on a what resilient food system after Brexit might look like, calling to mind the Dig for Victory campaign used during WWII. Shall we all become farmers, or shall we reconvert any tiny green plot of land, any balcony or bath tub into a growing surface to produce more food locally? The answer is much more complex than what have the possibility to develop here but what is interesting from my perspective is the perception of the urban landscape related to food.

London is dotted with green areas, reservoirs and huge parks; most of the houses have some square meter of courtyard, without even talking about the random flowerbeds along the streets or the cemeteries that often grow wild. All this potential seems to be largely neglected and people seem unaware of the criticality and opportunities of these areas; what is already growing around them and how they can be involved in a more conscious and fruitful relationship with urban life for mutual support.

Boite RiverBoite river, Cadore, Italy. Photo: Giulia Fassina.

The future UK food policy – presentation by James Elliott from Green Alliance

Last week at our #openhouse we had James Elliott from Green Alliance in to discuss the future of UK food after Brexit and the need to create a resilient and sustainable food system.

Jame’s highlighted the need for serious change both on our own soil and globally when it comes to producing food – with much of current agriculture practice being unsustainable.

Here are the main points discussed in his presentation:

‘The damage farming is doing to the environment is undermining the very ability to farm and grow food in the future – So how can we make food production more sustainable?’

The sustainability of agriculture in the UK is of particular importance as over 70% of our land is farmed (a much higher average compared to the rest of Europe). Globally soils are degrading, the worlds aquifers are over-exlpoited, mass deforestation is taking place worldwide to make room for farming, the global food system contributes to a quarter of green house gas emissions and we are seeing rapid biodiversity loss due to food production.

Having said this, compared to global standards UK agriculture is relatively good having low natural capital costs compared to other countries around the world, however, whilst we are ahead of many other countries, we are still degrading the environment and undermining farm productivity.

Taking East Anglia as an example, one of our most productive farming regions with over half of the best farm land in the UK – we are rapidly loosing top soil and most of the surface water is in a poor condition – and with a 1 degree temperature rise the rate of soil loss is only set to increase.

What does the Government plan to do about this?

Most of our policies for food production and food standards have been set by EU law and regulations for decades. In particular the Common Agricultural Policy has entirely shaped our current farming system and practices. Brexit presents the first opportunity for radical reform, where we would be able to set our own policy. The Government has been clear that they want a ‘Green Brexit’ and have released several important plans and strategies in the past year which show strong ambition for the environment. The most recent of which is a consultation paper on the future of agriculture and land management in the UK. The main proposal is to change farm payments so that government money is used to pay for public goods like a healthy natural environment.

This is a massive step in the right direction for the UK, however, it wont solve environmental problems on its own as it largely focuses on domestic farming rather than looking at the food system as a whole.

Also the way we produce food is driven by a whole host of factors other than governmental policy – with consumer demand having a large impact, the willingness to pay a certain price, and what food businesses themselves demand from farmers.

How does the Governments plan to fix this:

A 25year plan for the environment that commits to ensuring that our food is “produced sustainably and profitably”, that all soils are managed sustainably by 2030, and that achieves clean and plentiful water by improving 3 quarters of water bodies to be close to their natural state.

Clean Growth Strategy that puts carbon sequestration on land and enhancing natural capital at the heart of a strategy for growth. Specific commitments include massively increasing tree cover in England, to 12 per cent by 2060, and innovation investment focused on areas including low carbon fertilisers, soil health and low emission farming.

Industrial Strategy. Sets out a new ‘Transforming food production: from farm to fork’ programme, including £90 million as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge fund to bring together AI, robotics and earth observation to improve supply chain resilience in the agri-food sector. This creates a new Food and Drink Sector Council to capture leadership opportunities in sustainable food and agriculture.

Agriculture Command Paper. Sets out proposals for a new environmental land management system to replace the Common Agricultural Policy, which would replace subsidy for land ownership with targeted payments for farming that provides “environmental public goods” such as improved soil health, improved water quality and increased biodiversity.

But 'farming' is not the same as food

Whilst reforming agricultural policy would be a big step in the right direction, this does not tackle the whole problem as ‘farming’ is not the same as food.

The sustainability of imported foods is determined by the direct environment this food is farmed in, and the standards that these countries adhere to. Ultimately we always loose an element of control whenever we import food, as we have to trust that other nations are producing it in a way we would want. This also has an impact on the standards of food within the UK as farmers may be undermined by cheaper imports with lower standards.

Looking at food as a whole rather than just farming is fundamental as 66% of our calories come from processed foods, with farming accounting to only 8% of the value of the UK agri-food sector. While consumers feel that food prices are high most farms would be making a loss without government subsidies under current practice.

Finally our own knowledge about what we’re eating, where it comes from and how its produced is surprisingly low, creating a void of understanding between consumers and farmers.

what might the future food system look like?

After Brexit, if the government decides to reduce or remove import tariffs on food most of our food imports would switch from mainly coming from the EU to coming from the rest of the world. This could have a negative impact on food production in the UK as many of our own farms won’t be able to compete with the lower prices countries outside of the UK can produce food for. This could also encourage UK farmers to farm more intensively in order to be competitive. Importing food from outside of the EU would also make it more difficult to ensure high standards of food. For example illegal pesticide levels are found nearly 3 times as often in produce from outside of the EU.

And if we do end up doing trade deals their is a good chance we may trade away important standards. Most potential scenarios will lead to some degree of loss of control if new policies are not put in place.

If we trade with the US?

The US has already identified certain areas of EU regulations as to strict, meaning that if we make a trade deal with them we are likely to import chlorine washed chicken, hormone treated beef and pork, genetically modified foods and poorer quality dairy products. They have also criticised the EU maximum for residue levels of certain pesticides (MRL) – a trade deal with them could lead to lifting bans on certain pesticides. The US again has stated the EU’s rules regarding the tractability of meat products (country of origin labelling and animal welfare statements on import certficates) as unnecessarily restricting.

Taking all of the above into consideration it is clear that we need complimentary policies on a full range of food related areas in order to create a sustainable food system – agricultural policy alone is not enough.Outside of the EU we will need to set our own food and production standards in an open and transparent way, leading the path to a sustainable food system. In order to do this the government must uphold our food standards, and not risk trading them away to make unsustainable deals. By implementing the new agricultural policy being proposed whilst simultaneously encouraging people to connect to their food and increase understanding of where our food comes from and hows its produced we stand the chance to have an important impact.

We also used the evening as a chance to discuss whether urban agriculture has a place within the future of our food systems and whether one day growing in the city will need to be taken into consideration when making policy changes. Their is a debate as to whether it will ever have a significant impact to UK food production or whether it will merely play a small supporting role – but perhaps that is enough? If it encourages consumers to grow themselves and also develop an understanding of their food sources perhaps that is all it needs to do?

We shall see…

If you want to take part in our next #openhouse and join the debate on how to create sustainable futures sign up to a free ticket.

 

 

Is Green Lab the Willy Wonka of makerspaces – Guardian article

described Green Lab as the ‘Willy Wonka’ of makerspaces in the article he wrote about us for the Guardian this week.

Discussing the lack of support to makerspaces and creatives trying to make change happen for the way we live, he highlighted the importance placed on these environments for London to be at the forefront of new ideas and yet the neglect they face when it comes to planning workspace within the city.

He spoke to Green Lab founder Ande Gregson as to why he started the project in the first place and why it’s so important that it doesn’t fail.

Meet Britain’s Willy Wonkas: the ideas factory that could save UK industry

by Aditya Chakrabortty

“A decade after the crash, finance grips London more tightly than ever. No longer penned into the Square Mile and Canary Wharf, it now gropes its way along the South Bank and has turned Mayfair into a shadow-banking quarter. The rest of the city centre provides butler services to the super-rich: luxury developers and estate agents, fad restaurateurs, tax-loophole spotters, reputation launderers in PR.

For Cameron’s Conservative colleagues, this is success, to be celebrated. In 2014, the capital’s then-mayor, Boris Johnson, rejoiced: “London is to billionaires what the jungles of Sumatra are to the orangutan. It is their natural habitat.” Groovy for the great apes, not so fun for us worker ants. Economic diversity in the heart of the capital now hides out in some unlikely places. Go to Bermondsey, just a tube stop away from London Bridge. Follow the signs to the old further education college, whose students and teachers have long gone. Upstairs is a former home economics kitchen, the kind in which you tried and failed to cook an apple crumble. Except now it’s a farm.

Over by the windows, mealworms are breeding. Running along the walls are tanks of fish. In the middle is a mini-greenhouse with huge water tanks where tomatoes and squash will sprout. Any free space is crammed with leafy green plants. And just wait till you hear the plans for a trout farm. Here, slap-bang in the middle of the capital, lies agriculture. Nestling in this abandoned college are a whole bunch of companies. And the laser cutters and 3D printers make it a manufacturing site too.”

Read the full article here