Author: anoushka


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

 

Green Lab takes part in Grow Wild 2018 – Tasty Natives

Green Lab is pleased to announce that we have been selected by The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to take part in Grow Wild UK 2018, a community project that aims to bring people together through activities that connect their community and celebrate UK native wildflowers, plants and/or fungi.

With food, water and waste being our fundamental concerns, the Green Lab team will be exploring the native species that are easy to grow in the British climate and should make more of a steady appearance in our meals.

The project will be led by Green Lab resident Ana Jaramillo, who will open the lab for members of the community who wish to take part in a series of educational and gastronomic experiences. With the participation of local chefs/cooks and Green Lab volunteers, we will grow, cook and curate a tantalising set of dishes for the Grow Wild UK 2018 “Tasty Natives: sustainable cooking experience”. From starters to desserts, there is a wide range of options to be explored.

‘Tasty Natives’ will bring together the local community and provide them with knowledge about the importance of sustainable food production and its relationship with native species, flowers and fungi.

native wild common thyme

Thymus Polytrichus – Native wild common thyme

With our reliance on food to survive we will use this as an opportunity to discuss various sustainable food options, how we can collectively tackle our growing food demand, how to minimise and utilise food waste, food scarcity, and more circular growing and consuming systems. With this interactive gastronomic experience we hope to inspire the community to take action!

Our collective experience throughout the project will be curated into a crowd sourced digital recipe book, ‘Tasty Natives’, including ideas and recipes from the those that partake in the project.

We hope that our ‘Tasty Natives’ project will become a nationwide educational tool and source of inspiration for anyone to get more involved with their locally grown produce and experiment cooking with new ingredients, supporting the Grow Wild initiative.

If you have a few hours to spare and wish to be part of the Tasty Natives volunteering team please do not hesitate to contact Ana Jaramillo: ana.jaramillo@greenlab.org. The project will be great fun to take part in and an edible journey, we also need to people with a plethora of different skills so if you haven’t grown before or cooking isn’t your strong point their are still many ways for you to get involved!

Our first event for Tasty Natives will be an #openhouse day on Saturday 14th April, come along to find out more about the project and taste some natives – tickets are FREE.

Arts Work of the Future – collaborative project with Digital Makers Collective at the TATE Exchange

Last week Green Lab took part in the Arts Work of the Future – a project run by the Digital Makers Collective from UAL at the Tate Exchange.

The project looked to explore the role of technology in the arts and how this will impact the future of our creativity. As we continue to live in an age of rapid technological change we need to explore how this will impact all areas of our lives and industry. By embracing these advancements we can utilize technology to create, make and grow towards the best possible future.

The digital maker collective transformed the Tate Exchange into a large public innovation hub, exploring different forms of technological advancement and inviting both makers and the public to get involved, contributing a hands on experience to the event.

Green Lab was part of the ‘Growing Space‘, contributing seedlings, plants and technology for growing.

green lab seedlings

About Growing Space –

‘A collaborative project about local collection and sustainable, communal space.

This project is the adaptation of a greenhouse in an indoor environment, raising questions about sustainability. Since it is locally sourced with non-specialist materials from recycling circuits, it is aimed to be easy to build on its own, as a modular framework that can be replicated by anyone.

The modularity of the space provides an expanding and growing capacity backed up by the plants growing in it, creating an intimate pleasant atmosphere, in which the air is filtered, providing a cleaner environment to be in.

This adaptable space rethinks design as a collecting and evolving activity that can be shared between the members/builders.’

modular growing space design

The space was an organic structure that took shape throughout the six days that the event ran for, with both a team from UAL and Green Lab helping to build the space, add plants and technology and engage the public to help the environment grow and expand. The project was a place to learn about the possibilities of growing in whatever space you have available to you, highlighting the options to grow within the city with just a bit of creativity and experimentation.

The project also highlighted the ability to find usable materials from your surroundings, collecting local unwanted materials from businesses to build and grow in. With the combination of low tech and high tech the project successfully planted the beginning of an edible garden with minimal cost and maximum imagination.

Providing seedlings and plants from the lab the space soon became a green jungle of intrigue, with chilli’s and microgreens provided by lab resident Silly Greens being grown in recycled plastic bottles and coffee cups.

The smart system also combined a Blynk dashboard and Arduino to keep track of the air quality, humidity, light and temperature of the growing space.

Blynk dashboard and arduino

While the concern for the future of our growing systems increases it is easy to focus on the large long term struggles we will face trying to feed the planet globally, while forgetting the small change you can make yourself, even if you lack outside space, with bit of versatility you can grow small amounts with an adaptable modular system right at home.

To highlight this our resident hydroponics designer, Ed the urban researcher, held an interactive workshop showing just how easy it is to create a small scale hydroponics system with a bucket, some ventilation ducting and a water pump.

Hydroponic bucket system

If you want to learn more about the projects we explore at the lab and how you can adapt your living space to house some simple small scale growing systems at a low cost come along to our #openhouse events or sign up for an aquaponics workshop.

The video below captures the space and the various projects that the public could interact with. To find out more about the different work exhibited head to Arts Work of the Future.

Silly Greens growing in the lab

Silly greens moved into the lab just before Christmas and they have been busy perfecting their growing space to ensure they can produce the tastiest microgreens since then.

Silly Greens ethos is simple, helping people to access and grow their own microgreens, allowing them to dress up any home cooked meal. With their handy delivery system they really do provide a hassle free and easy way for you to grow at home. Each week they will focus on just 3 flavours to offer to their customers, hand sewing them, before posting them to you in a handily packed box small enough to fit through your post box.

Once you have received your greens you just need to tear of the top of the box and place them near a window, water them lightly and allow the warmth and light to do the rest. The variety of 3 different microgreens per box allows them to send you a selection of fast, medium and slow growers.

Microgreens growing in your kitchen &

Ed Hall started silly greens after experimenting with micro growing and has spent the past 18months trying to perfect his technique, to allow him to supply the tastiest greens direct to your door.

A little about micro greens –

Microgreens are as you probably guessed it ‘micro’ ‘greens’ these teeny portions of veg are edible plants that have been harvested at the seedling stage – when they first begin to sprout is prime microgreen harvesting time. They can be grown on your kitchen windowsill with minimal maintenance allowing you to dip your toe into the gardening world without having to ever actually venture outside – an exciting prospect in these cold and miserable months. Because they are harvested so early there is also very little time to get it wrong! Again a great delight for the novice gardener – as long as the soil or quite often material pad they are being grown in is kept damp and they are receiving some warmth and light from the window you should be eating your little triumphs in no time.

Microgreens not only taste wonderful with their intense flavour but they are also a concentrated nutrient source, often containing higher levels of vitamins and caretonoids than their fully grown and mature relatives.

Micro greens dress up any meal &

Join the microgreen revolution

Microbial Circus tour – Pop up bacteria bar at Green Lab with Edible Alchemy

Green Lab will be hosting a pop up bacteria bar – Microbial Circus Tour – with Edible Alchemy on Tuesday 20th March.

Bacteria Baristas Alexis Goertz & Natalie Elizabeth will be running the evening with some Kombucha from our resident fermentation specialist Jon Katona.

Join us on from 6.30pm for a colourful and wonderful gastronomic experience as we explore the world of bacteria and healthier living.

Learn how probiotics can help you boost your health, improve digestion and your gut while enjoying the amazing flavors of natural probiotic foods. We’ll give you a real insight into how these bacteria can help you live a far more healthier lifestyle. There will tasting sessions throughout the evening across a eclectic mix of food types – one for food adventurers, explorers and curious foodies.

Alexis Goertz & Natalie Elizabeth &

Bacteria Baristas – Alexis Goertz & Natalie Elizabeth

Passionate DIY fermentation-foodies, who have been creating foods, drinks and events as Edible Alchemy 2013. We have traveled the world, collecting rare probiotic cultures, and sampling local fermented delicacies, while honing our craft. The bacterial succession spreads the Edible Alchemy headquarters over two continents – Europe, based in Berlin with Alexis, and North America, based in Winnipeg with Natalie – https://ediblealchemy.co/

Tickets are £25 per person.

Food Futures – The Calthorpe Project

On Saturday 17th March our friends from the Institute of Making at Slade, UCL will be hosting a 1 day workshop with the Calthorpe Project. To learn more about food production, sustainability and closing the energy loop register for your free ticket.

Throughout this wonderland of food activities you will be introduced to growing in anti-gravity conditions and concoct your own veggie sausages, using ingredients harvested from the Calthorpe Project.

More info:

‘A one-day hands-on workshop with academics and artists from the Slade School of Art, UCL on the theme of food production, sustainability and closing the energy loop. You will have the opportunity to join an experiment to test a hydroponic plant machine, originally devised by NASA and make your own vegetarian closed loop sausages.

10am – 1pm: Artist Nick Laessing will introduce his Plant Orbiter, a hydroponic machine which tests whether anti-gravity conditions can increase plant growth. His project looks at the future of urban food production, technology and self-sufficiency. You will be invited to plant your choice of edible food plants and herbs for later harvest. Participants can volunteer to become hydroponic gardeners/experimenters during the plants’ growth cycle.

Lunch is provided by the Calthorpe Garden Cafe and includes some of the food grown in the community garden.

2pm – 5pm: Artist Ellie Doney will lead the afternoon’s sausage making workshop, inviting you to choose edible materials grown at the Calthorpe Project to devise, cook and eat closed loop veggie sausages. Using sausage anatomy as a delicious metaphor, we will explore questions about how we eat, what we eat, our bodies, identity and our relationship with our environment. Please bring along an edible ingredient to introduce yourself and add to the sausage pantry.

Nick Laessing is an artist exploring the interfaces of art, technology and eco-crisis. His research project life-systems, addresses how art can confront ecological issues such as food and energy production through speculative technologies that encourage participation and engagement.

Ellie Doney is an artist researcher whose PhD project Food & Transformation travels the borders of human and non-human matter, and asks how we become like the materials we encounter, through cooking and eating with people. Her research unwraps the many layers of properties within matter to find out how we all interrelate.’

Find out more about the Calthorpe Project.

Register for your free ticket.

 

Bento Lab – Green Lab residents

Bento Lab is a DNA analysis laboratory created by Bethan Wolfenden and Philipp Boeing. The duo are currently in their first production run of the first affordable DNA laboratory after it successfully passed beta testing. With backgrounds in Biochemistry and Computer Science they are seeking to bring DNA testing into the public sector, allowing anyone to conduct their own simple DNA analysis with the use of the lab.

Bethan Wolfenden & Philipp Boeing &

The beauty of the design is its compact size and accessibility. With the lab measuring no more than the average size of a laptop, you could literally take your lab with you. This is a game changer for the world of science. As someone that last conducted a scientific experiment in secondary school, the world of laboratories, DNA testing and white coats has seemed a very closed of and inaccessible space, one reserved for only the highly intellectual. Bento Lab brings this world into everyday accessibility. With the rise of makers spaces, DIY  and opensource we are seeing a transition from these disciplines being reserved for the technically trained to an open space for collaboration and cross disciplinary work. The more transparency we see through these sectors the greater chance for public engagement and understanding, potentially leading to the possibility of a more inclusive community.

Citizen science and the maker movement was an important source of inspiration for Bethan and Philipp, who were running hands-on biotechnology workshops in schools and community centers and were becoming frustrated at the lack of accessible hardware for these events. After taking an initial mock-up of the lab to a maker festival in Rome in 2013 and receiving positive feedback they realized this concept had depth and needed to be scaled, bringing the use of a DNA laboratory to the many.

As in keeping with the accessibility this lab will bring to science, a proportion of the funding they raised for their first production run was via Kickstarter. Running this campaign meant that the public and educational institutions could donate to the cause, or pre-order their own Bento Lab.

What is Bento Lab exactly?

‘Bento Lab is the first complete DNA laboratory, suitable for a beginner to a professional. It comes with a PCR thermocycler, a centrifuge and a gel electrophoresis box and power supply with blue LED transillumination – all controlled by an intuitive interface. And with an A4 footprint that fits into any laptop-sized bag, Bento Lab can travel wherever your science goes.’

Bento Lab &

To find out more or pre-order you lab head to bento.bio