NEWS


Green Lab in Malaysia

Green Lab Founder, Andrew Gregson, spent the last week in June 2018 participating in a 5 day workshop in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia in partnerhip with Westminster University, The British Council and University of Malaysia. The intensive trans- and multi-disciplinary five-day workshop was funded by the ‘British Council Researcher Links’, designed to foster an ecosystem for developing resilient social enterprise through entrepreneurial learning.

Over 40 participants from the UK, Europe, US and Asia converged in Kota Kinabalu to take part in the project. Over the five days, small teams traveled to : Kundasang (agro-tourism), Keningau (livestock tourism), Kota Maradu – Teringai (banana plantation), Kuala Penyu (emerging industry), Tambunan (mulberry plantation) with a view to understanding rural needs, potential for social entrepreneurship and to establish local projects.

Mentor and Coaches
Mentors and coaches meet at the start of the week for briefings

Green Lab’s role was to act as a mentor to ‘Team Banana’ (our self nominated name given our project location, and love of the local Sabah banana). Team Banana traveled to the ‘Teringai, Beach and Cafe lodge’; exploring a banana plantation, local community and social ecosystem, building a social context and understanding of the landscape, listening to the needs of the rural community and creating a proposal for social entreprenuership.

Teringai
Teringai Beach and Cafe Lodge
Teringai
Coastal location
Teringai
Visiting local communities

Teringai
Getting to know the landscape
Teringai
Listening to residents
Teringai
Working as a team

Our final proposal and pitch focused on improving local environmental conditions; removing plastics from beaches, edcuation workshops for schools, recycling waste materials and encouraging local communities to self initiate and lead activities. Of the five proposals from the competing teams, presented for peer review at the end of the week, Green Lab and our Team Banana won: our small pot of prize funding will initiate a research project and implement the start of our social entreprenuership.

Team Banana
Team Banana – winning team at Malaysia SITEL 2018

To close the week, we spent Friday morning cleaning a beach at UMS (University Malaysia, Sabah) – sadly the local community disgard a large proportion of plastics into the sea, which accumulate on a beautiful adjacent sandy retreat.

Collecting rubbish from beach

Collecting rubbish from beach

Collecting rubbish from beach

We’d like to thank the SITEL team at Westminister for organising the workshop, their organisational skills and the inspiring team made the project possible. Green Lab is very much looking forward to making our ‘Team Banana’ project come to life.

For more background on the SITEL project visit the Westminster Application page.

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

 

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

 

Green Lab #openhouse – Urban Agriculture movement in London, New York & Shanghai

For our first #openhouse of 2018 we welcomed our fellow urban agricultural mavericks into the lab to hear how urban ag is impacting cities and communities around the globe. With urbanisation on the rise and our growing concerns for the current food systems in place we are seeing technology set to play a larger role. With this increasing move from countryside to city our relationships to our food sources are becoming jeopardised and as a result people are turning their hand to growing for themselves, finding unique and smart ways to grow within the city. We heard from our green fingered friends in New York and Shanghai, discussing how our cities are growing for the future and how small change is taking place across the globe.

New York

We heard from Agritecture – an urban agriculture consultancy based in New York and we also spoke to AgTech X, a makers space based in Brooklyn creating opportunities and space for designers and makers to build an urban agriculture community.

Agritecture logo &

Agritecture

Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder of Agritecture, showed us different examples of urban agriculture throughout the city, ranging from low tech community based projects to high tech commercial ventures.

We looked at case studies of these different typologies, focusing on 5 New York based projects:

Battery Park – a community soil based garden

Brooklyn Grange – a commercial rooftop soil-based project

Harlem Grown – a community hybrid

Sky Vegetables – a commercial rooftop hydroponic growing system

Edenworks – a commercial vertical aquaponic growing system.

Each of these examples have varying levels of success and Henry discussed the urban agriculture impact categories that they measure projects against – looking at success more holistically and how it impacts not only on an economic level. The categories we looked at are:

Aesthetics – does it attract people? Is it an enjoyable experience?

Social – does the farm engage the community? does it improve food justice and equality?

Economic – How much yield does the farm producer? does it create jobs and revenue?

Ecological – does it encourage biodiversity? does it help to manage rain and storm water

Health – Is it providing fresh food for those that need it? Is it providing stress relief and a sanctuary from urban living?

It was a comforting insight to hear that not everyone measures success on ‘growth’ and that sometimes the project with the most impact are not the most economically minded.

The discussion of low tech versus high tech urban farming was another interesting point. With many people joining the urban agriculture movement keen to use high tech smart methods, such as hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics, soil based farming can often be overlooked, despite it’s many benefits. Whilst high tech farming and controlled growing environments can result in food security and utilise precious space these methods take time to perfect and the energy consumption can be huge. They also may not provide the local community with sometimes much needed jobs and the biodiversity we all need to bring back to our cities.

See Henry’s presentation here.

AgTech X logo &

AgTech X

We also heard from Ricky Stephens, co-founder of AgTech X, a co-working space focused on the intersection of urban agriculture, technology and sustainability. Based in Brooklyn, AgTech X is creating a working community space that also runs classes and workshop for the public to engage with. As we are finding with Green Lab it is becoming increasingly important for these spaces to exist, not only as a space for play, test and experiment with new ideas, but also to create a dialogue between the local community and those working and growing within the city. Green Lab and AgTech X are facing similar hurdles in sustaining this concept, looking for a permanent space where the ideas can grow and for that all important funding to sustain the project.

Shanghai

Domosfarms vertical green wall &

We also heard from Andy Garcia – a product design engineer and founder of Domosfarms – based in Shanghai.

Whilst New York has been a big player in the urban agriculture scene from the beginning we hadn’t heard much in the way of China’s involvement and Andy gave us an interesting insight into the urban ag community developing in shanghai and also the general agricultural issues that China is currently facing.

When Andy first moved to shanghai 8 months ago he found that he not only couldn’t drink the tap water but he couldn’t cook with it due to the heavy metals found in the water. These heavy metals are a result of china’s mining and processing industries. These metals cant be filtered by the body, resulting in an increased chance of cancer and disease when consumed. Not only are these heavy metals found within the water systems but also within the food grown and produced.

With this concern Andy was keen to start producing his own food and he started to build his first hydroponics system. With the success of his first system he garnered interest from others keen to produce their own food and is now in the process of creating two open source projects for those wishing to build their own hydroponic systems and produce their own food.

China came quite late to the urban agriculture movement, with neighboring countries of Japan and Korea way ahead of them. this was partly due to their large agriculture industry producing plenty of food but in recent years, with increased urbanisation and fears of both food security and food safety the need to explore urban agriculture has increased.

The safety of the food produced has come into question, with the entire food system now possibly contaminated from China’s industries people are now demanding safer food.
Sunqiao Urban Agricultural district &amp

China is addressing this problem by investing in land all over the world, having brought areas in Africa, America and Australia. They are also looking to architectural developments to solve their problems with a current project being built on the outskirts of Shanghai. Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District is being developed to include vertical farming systems such as hydroponics and aquaculture, whilst also providing research and public outreach to the community.

Our next #openhouse will be on Thursday 22nd February, make sure you sign up here.

 

Green Lab Kombucha

Jon Katona, Green Labs resident Kombucha specialist is now fermenting and brewing his own Kombucha here in the lab.

Kombucha is raw fermented tea. The sugar-tea solution is fermented by bacteria and yeast commonly known as SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Although its usually made with black tea, Kombucha can also be made with many other types of tea, or even coffee. These ingredients are left to ferment in a warm environment for a period of time, becoming a delicious, refreshing, nutrient dense drink.

Green Lab has been brewing its own Kombucha for the past 6 months and we’re keen to share how simple and straight forward it can be to ferment your own strain of tea and get creative with flavouring.

Fermentation

With the increasing concern with our own bacteria and maintaining a healthy gut Kombucha has grown in popularity. Fermenting foods in order to keeps stores during the winter is an age old technique and along the way our ancestors discovered that this technique also aided their health. In more recent years and our reliance on a fridge/freezer the need to ferment and preserve our fresh food in the same way lessened. With this we not only lost an understanding of seasons but we neglected our gut health. We are now starting to re-appreciate how vital a varied diet with the addition of fermented foods can be, with many seeking out easy pro-biotic boosts such as Kombucha.

fermenting Kombucha &

Health benefits

The health benefits from fermented foods are plentiful from help with nutrient absorption, vitamin synthesis, breaking down proteins, alkalizing pH, restoring homeostasis, boosting immunity, and producing immunoglobulins. The process enables the nutrients to be more easily absorbed by our bodies, allowing us to work less and benefit more.

workshops:

We hosted our first workshop last weekend at the lab. The event started with a tasting session, trying some punchy freshly brewed Kombucha and raspberry puree before diving into the deep end, learning about the drinks restorative, detoxifying and adaptive properties. Their were tastings of live ‘booch’ through the different fermentation stages, which gave the class a sense of the flavour evolution throughout the process – from sweet to tart as the brew matures, right through to extremely potent and versatile Kombucha vinegar. They tasted bottle-aged Kombucha flavoured with ingredients from fiery chilli, sasperilla root, rosemary and schizandra berry. Everyone was then given a SCOBY starter kit to start brewing their own concoctions at home as well as some of their own personally flavoured brew.

Green Lab Kombucha station &

If you are interested to learn more about Kombucha and how easy it can be to make yourself, sign up to one our workshops to kick start your fermentation journey.

Jon will be hosting  his next Kombucha workshop here at the lab – ‘learn to ferment and make your own Kombucha at Green Lab’ on Saturday 27th January, buy tickets here.

He will also be hosting ‘Learn to brew Kombucha with Green Lab’ at Makerversity as part of their Material Explorations program. For the third part of the series they are presenting Pharma Foods, exploring the world of synthetic biology and discussing how our eating  habits are set to change. With progress into lab grown food, and ethical decisions, Kombucha represents how our search for health can also look to the past.

‘Learn to brew Kombucha with Green Lab’ will be held at Makerversity, Somerset House on Saturday 10th February, buy tickets here.

Green Lab’s vertical farm aquaponic growing system

We now have a fully functioning vertical farm in the Lab employing a tower growing system using aquaponics.

With the delivery of the mint and fish our vertical farm is now fully up and running and we can share with you how and why you should have one too.

We are growing mint in our vertical farm and using an aquaponic system that works with fish, however the basics are fully adaptable to suit your own needs, with the ability to grow a host of various herbs.

Ed who built the system for us explains the basics of how it works –

‘The idea of the vertical wall was that it will fit in a small space and it’s a modular system that can be easily increased in size by adding more wall structures. The design behind it has been left open – I did this partly as an educational piece, it explains itself to the viewer, and can be easily replicated. The system could fit in a school or an office space and would allow you to grow fresh herbs and vegetables.

The system is aquaponic – it’s a circular system – you feed the fish which in turn poo, the bacteria then converts the ammonia in the fish poo into nitrates which are absorbed by the plants and used as nutrients, whilst cleaning the water before returning this to the fish tank.

The fact it’s a modular system means that it can be easily adapted – you can even run the system without fish, turning it into a hydroponic system instead, by adding nutrients to the water instead of using the fish poo.’

HOUSE YOUR OWN VERTICAL FARM

For more information on how to build your own aquaponic vertical wall or have one custom built for your space contact the team at Green Lab – hello@greenlab.org or attend one of our upcoming workshops.

Grow Wild 2018 – Community Funding Opportunities

Grow Wild is the UK’s biggest wild flower planting initiative brought to us by Kew Gardens. As we grow more concerned with the future of our wildlife and our fragile ecosystems in danger of being disrupted we are finding that small groups of people are fighting back with responses as simple as planting native flowers and encouraging wildlife back into their gardens.

Grow Wild is encouraging communities to take back their green spaces and spread wild flower seeds. Having lost 97% of our wild flower fields since 1970 this initiative is extremely important in protecting our natural spaces.

As part of the initiative Grow Wild has now launched their community funding opportunities for more people to get involved, find out more below.

HOW CAN YOU TAKE PART

‘Grow Wild, is excited to launch our new community project funding for 2018. We are awarding funding of £2,000 or £4,000 to community groups that want to bring people together through activities that connect their community and celebrate UK native wild flowers, plants and/or fungi.

Do you have an interesting idea for involving your group or local community in a project. Will it capture people’s attention and connect everybody through activities focused on the creative transformation of an area where they live and spend time? Click here to read all about the funding opportunity. Make sure you download the guidance document and read it fully. It tells you everything you need to know about who can apply, the criteria for funding and the process for completing an application.

Grow Wild is here to help and advise groups along the way. We have dedicated Engagement Managers working across the UK to help guide your thinking and develop your project idea. Contact information can be found in the guidance document.’

Application closing date – 15 January 2018.

We will be working on our own submission over the next few weeks for the Lab and looking forward to seeing all the great ideas put forward!

LOGOS

Composting for the future – we’re piloting our London co-working space composting system

Composting for the future! Green Lab is now piloting our London co-working space composting system. We will be composting all of the organic food matter produced in 3space, working directly with Entocycle, Bento Lab, Idea Drop and Restart Program to begin with before taking waste from the whole office space.  We will be composting our combined waste to use to grow our crops in the lab, eventually eating our leafy greens, creating a circular system.

Andrew Cribb, CEO and co-founder of 3Space, hopes to see the project working and the benefits grow –

“3Space unlocks buildings in cities which would otherwise be empty or wasted in the development cycle, and in the same way we aim to be sustainable and circular in our operations and how we deal with our co-working waste. Most importantly our buildings are about experimenting with other ideas and innovations which traditional offices spaces wouldn’t. With Green Lab’s innovation we will be able to offer our tenants a circular solution for their food waste, where it is composted on site and then used to grow food with the option of them participating in the growing. Where else can you go to work and be able to watch your waste being put to use on site, actively participate and then taste the success!!”

We hope that one day the whole city will be composting and to break down the divide between working, living and inhabiting environments.

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED

If your interested to find out more and follow our composting journey follow us on instagram where we will update with pictures of our progress. Maybe you could start your own work space composting system too!

We are also currently working with UCL to create an open source anaerobic digester, so watch this space…

LAST WEEK @ GREEN LAB: SCHRÖDINGERS CAFFE & AQUAPONICS

FUTURE OF FOOD, SCHRÖDINGERS CAFFE

Last week at Green Lab we hosted the first ever Schrödingers Caffe event, The Future of Food, run by Hasmita Chavda.We were thrown head first into the world of insects with Indroneel Chatterjee teaching us about the potential these little critters have in the future of our food security.

BUG BAR & TINNED TARANTULA... YUM

With more protein per gram than beef we were quick to learn the logical side of the argument, so Neel took to challenging our emotional side and we were pushed to question how these bugs may be made more acceptable and desirable to us in the future.

After sampling some of the (erhum) delicious insects currently available to buy, we washed this down with a cold brew and gin cocktail, conjured up by Mac’s Cafe.

SLOW BREW & GIN COCKTAILS

Next was the discussion of how to grow food in urban environments with our own Ande Gregson, looking at how much of an impact urban farming will have on our future and the future of our food. At Green Lab we are exploring new technologies and ideas to grow food whilst also revisiting our ancestors more in depth knowledge of the land  and what we can expect from it. We saw how the Lab itself is an urban farming experiment, with a group of imaginators testing ways to farm in our own urban Bermondsey environment.

Taking inspiration from one of Green Labs newest crop experiments we ended the night with Mac’s Cafe spirulina and ginger shots, a boost of protein and spice.

SPIRILUNA & GINGER SHOTS, SO SPICY

OUR SECOND EVENT OF THE WEEK  – AN INTRODUCTION TO URBAN AQUAPONICS

John Katona also hosted our first urban aquaponics event at the Lab with Edible Lambeth. We saw an eager group of Londoners come to learn all things fish and greens.

JOHN WOWING THE AUDIENCE

Kicking of with a discussion on the potential of aquaponics, John then demonstrated how to grow your own food using fish waste and a water recirculating system. Using low cost equipment and recycled materials the group learnt how to source, design and build a system for their own home or garden, with one participant planning to do just that –  ‘A well put together workshop, covering the many facets of aquaponics. I’m off to find some barrels.’

JOHN AND HIS BARRELS

With more workshops in the pipeline we hope to see homemade aquaponics systems popping up all over the city in the future.

Look out for future events at Green Lab for both Schrödingers Caffe and aquaponics…

Register your interest here.

 

 

BAQUA 2017 Aquaponics Convention @ Green Lab

Green Lab are very pleased to be hosting the two day annual British Aquaponics Association Convention on the 8th & 9th December 2017.

The annual convention serves as a knowledge sharing and networking gathering of the Aquaponics Sector. Connecting participants with latest aquaponics industry updates, initiatives, resources and tools.

It is focused on disseminating state of the art technology and research, market trends, key challenges and showcasing inspirational initiatives and face-to-face networking. The convention provides networking towards the initiation of business collaborations, demonstration projects, technology partnerships and open source data sharing as well as actively matchmaking synergies and partnerships to shape this emergent industry.

Convention details

Friday 8th December – Aquaponics Training Workshop 10.00 – 16.00
This takes place at Green Lab and includes a delicious lunch

Saturday 9th December – Main convention 09:00 – 17:00
The convention will cover many aspects of aquaponics including exciting projects and people emerging in the sector incl. Paul Bavister (Flanagan Lawrence) and Fred Labbe (Expedition) invite you to explore their World Architecture Forum Shortlisted Aquaponics Proposal. A look at 2017 the state-of-the-art in research + poster competition and presentations. Catching up with the latest on fish health challenges for UK aquaponics and on compliance with CEFAS, and exploring a key theme of ‘Feed’.

Tickets range from £55 to £300 – there are a limited number available, please book early to avoid disappointment. Find out more about the convention and REGISTER FOR TICKETS

The BAQUA annual conferences aim to:
 • facilitate knowledge and resource sharing across the network
 • enable members to overcome specific operational issues through access to specific information and expert guidance
 • introduce innovations and the state-of-the-art in research and practice from the UK and beyond
 • provide a high-level training opportunity for practitioners
 • make aquaponics more accessible to entry-level practitioners

Find out more about the convention and REGISTER FOR TICKETS

Schrödinger’s Caffè: The Future of Food

Green Lab are excited to be hosting the very first Schrödinger’s Caffè event at the lab on the 16th November.

Schrödinger’s Caffè – Is the best space to ‘Nerd out’. The inaugral event has an apt theme: Future of Food, kicking off from 7pm with a very experimental style and approach.

The event will have special concoctions for you to try including insects, algae and greens; the event will be curated to help participants understand current thinking and trends on Food, coupled with vibrant and animated discussions.

Topics for discussion will include: will insects solve some of the big food problems we face? How much of our food can we grow in urban environments? Who are the future urban farmers leading this change and how is technology playing a role in this?

Mac’s Cafe will be in the Lab inspiring us all with some quaint concoctions.

Event Details
Thursday, 16th November 2017
7pm – 9pm
Tickets £6 per person

Register to attend Schrödinger’s Caffè

Composting with UCL at Green Lab

We don’t like waste. In fact we are actively trying to eliminate or recycle everything that we grow, farm or produce at Green Lab – whether its eating the food we grow, recycling the cardboard we receive or composting left over food from the lab.

Over the past few weeks Green Lab has been working along side a UCL researcher to develop a programme of research focused predominately on composting and bio-digestion systems.

In late August we participated in an event hosted by UCL at Hackney Wick, Grow: a kitchen & creative space, with a community of London narrow boat users. Exploring the practicalities of composting toilets and the human factors involved in using, emptying and composting.

From late September 2017, we’ll be working alongside a small team of Msc and PhD researchers from University College London – Environmental Engineering, on a project exploring the transformation of ‘humanure’ – yes, that’s the organic matter we produce that is typically mixed with clean drinking water and flushed through a complex piping system to large sewage processing systems – to safe and sustainable products.

Working with the narrow boat community and an on-site system at Green Lab the research project will explore the human factors in designing these systems, and the end use of fertiliser for leafy greens and hydroponic plant growth.

We’ll be using a Kildwick system (generously donated by Colin Ives) at Green Lab and inviting all our early stage startups to participate.

The agricultural composting project will transform mixed organic matter including food, leaves, dead organic mater and human organic media. We’ll be open sourcing all of our findings and naturally sharing the outcome of the project over the coming months.

The project is being lead by Eve MacKinnon, one of the Green Lab team and PhD Researcher in Safe Sanitation Management.

What is composting?

Compost is a key ingredient in organic farming. At the simplest level, the process of composting requires making a heap of wet organic matter known as green waste (leaves, food waste) and waiting for the materials to break down into humus after a period of weeks or months.

To be really inspired read Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins.

London Food Tech Week Ticket Offer

Join a global community of Food and Ag Tech innovators, start-ups, investors and brands for the world’s largest week-long showcase and collaboration of the companies and trends transforming the Food ecosystem using technology.

YFood are offering the Green Lab community 10% off tickets using the code GREENLAB10 and you can save a further 20% until 31 Aug with Early Birds.

Find out more and check out the Day Themes and first speakers at www.yfood.com

Become a Green Lab Volunteer

Join our hardy group urban farmers and agritech volunteers from the 25th September 2017 to build a number of growing projects in the Lab. We’re looking for 8 volunteers to offer their enthusiasm in urban agriculure to help build a number of exciting projects in the lab; from a small scale fish farm, edible plant vertical garden to a food composting system.

We’ll provide the inspiration and help you learn about different agricultural and growing systems – all you need is an enthusiastic curiosity about urban farming, and up to 8 hours of free time during the week (ideally Monday – Saturday).

We’ll be building the systems indoor and outdoor at our site in Bermondsey. If this sparks your interest and you’d like to find out more register on our Google Form.

Deadline for volunteer applications 18th September 2017.

Grow at Green Lab

Aquaponics, algae, edible plants, hydroponics, microgreens, insects or mushrooms… take your pick, there is space at Green Lab to grow all of these.

From September 18th we’ll be offering six urban farming residency spaces in the lab for individuals to grow their own food projects. Each resident will have access to a grow bay in Green Lab to farm their own food related project, whether you want install a small scale aquaponics pilot, create an edible plants display or just grow that basil for your pesto.

Green Lab growing bays provide just enough space for small scale projects for individuals, schools or early stage urban agriculture startups. You’ll be able to experiment with growing habitats, lighting and different growing media – they are a blank slate.

Live projects in our growing bays.

Algae
Corn and peas growing hydroponically in Coir

Algae
Aquaponic chilli and spinach with Red Comets

Algae
Spirulina growing in 15 litre upcycled water cooler bottles

We only ask you don’t bring any pests or diseased plants into the lab – we’ll help you get started, get growing and learn about urban agriculture. Use of the lab will be free for the first 3 months, after which it will be £30 p/month for the bay.

You’ll need some basics like a grow tray, maybe a light, growing medium or maybe a fish tank – it’s up to you what grow or farm, but we’ll help you get started. You can either bring your own kit or rent from the lab. We offer subsidised rates for students and educational bodies.

If you’d like to become a Green Lab grow resident tell us more about yourself here.

Deadline for applications 12th September with an 18th September start in the Lab.

Green Lab to develop a ‘Green Lung’ #LFA2017 Winner

Green Lab will be playing a key role in a collaborative bid that YOU &ME architecture recently won at the London Festival of Architecture competition. The competition will give the Green Lab team a chance to design a bioremediation ‘Green Lung’ concept beneath the Silvertown flyover, in the Royal Docks area of Newham, east London.

The ‘Green Lung’ will lie at the centre of a ‘Greenline Flyover Testbed’ proposal, exploring how natural sustainable methods can reduce air and water pollution generated from high trafficked flyovers.

Flyover sketch

YOU &ME with 3Space, Green Lab and Mott Macdonald, the practice overcame the competition of 52 other applicants with their proposal “Greenline Flyover Testbed”.

Read more about the submission.

Green Lab #openhouse: Agricultural Mavericks

Green Lab is hosting a monthly #openhouse event for the London urban farming community in London. Join us from 7pm on the last Thursday of every month to share ideas, showcase your startup or just meet other people with similar interests.

We’ll be bringing together an eclectic mix of agricultural mavericks exploring sustainable foods, urban farming, zero waste and local agriculture in London and the UK.

We’ll provide the space, drinks and nibbles. Got something you want to present or talk about? Drop the team an email at hello@greenlab.org

Sessions will run something like this

– 7.00pm Doors open and grab a drink
– 7.15pm Open mic and lighting talks kick off
– 9.00pm Doors close

Green Lab lives here www.greenlab.org/findus


We’re measuring our aquaponic Chilli plants in Mhz

Scoville is the scale of measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers. Mhz is what Green Lab are using to measure the effectiveness of our chilli aquaponic system, 30Mhz.

Located in one of our 24 demo bays is a small scale aquaponic system, home to two bonito chilli plants, two red comets and a host of 30Mhz sensors. The sensors are tracking (in real-time) the humidity, temperature, leaf temp and light intensity of the growing environment, providing the Green Lab team with insight into the growing cycle.

Aquaponic 30Mhz system

Pointed light temperature

Data from the sensors can be viewed in a real-time web and mobile dashboard giving the Green Lab team access to critical environmental data; sensor units are also battery powered, making them very portable and also waterproof. We like.

Zensie Dashboard

Over the coming months we’ll be adding pH and CO2 sensors as part of a year long pilot to embedd the 30Mhz sensor technology into a variety of lab projects; aquaponic, hydroponic, insects and algae.

About 30mhz

30MHz believes that with technology and data, organizations of any size can innovate to become more efficient, sustainable and cost-effective. Using easy to deploy wireless sensors, we’re empowering businesses to turn metrics captured from the physical world into actionable insights at industry-scale.

With the 30MHz Toolkit, we’re lowering the barrier to entry to industrial sensor technology. Our scalable and interoperable plug-and-play solution is designed for quick roll-out of sensors in the hundreds of thousands, and our dashboard makes data monitoring simple and user-friendly from any device.

Find out more at www.30Mhz.com

Insects. The name is molitor, Tenebrio molitor.

When was the last time you tried a gluten free mealworm french bread? Or maybe a mealworm banana smoothie? Insects are on the menu, and Lucinda Pender a designer and MA Material Futures graduate from Central Saint Martins is fascinated by insect food systems.

Lucinda is exploring the world of entomophagy and mealworm beetles (Tenebrio molitor) researching how insects can be introduced into a western diet, breaking down the cultural taboo surrounding entomophagy and how insects could transform the future of our food.

Green Lab is home to Lucinda’s research project.

“Developing my project, ‘The Entomophagy Welfare Act’ on the MA Material Futures course at Central Saint Martins, I have dedicated the last year exploring the processing system and legislation that would be needed in order to support the mass consumption of mealworms!

Currently, the thought of eating insects for many westerners is seen as a taboo, however the benefits of eating insects is comparable and even in some cases better than traditional meat sources on an environmental and nutritional level, it’s time that insects were taken seriously as a human food source. I truly believe in introducing more people into the world of entomophagy and am constantly excited by how new ideas and developments can all aid to its acceptance.

Farming mealworms at GreenLab means that I have the time and space to develop my knowledge of the mealworm and how ultimately we can utilise them as food for the future.

This is a really exciting time for entomophagy! With a lot of design projects and start-up companies all presenting and developing their own ways to introduce insects to the western diet.

Green Lab is an environment dedicated to the future of sustainable food systems, being able to be contribute to the space as well as be around others exploring their own areas of the future of food is an extremely exciting opportunity for me and my project! And I look forward to what the future of my project holds in the space”

Mealworm Beetle
Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, a species of darkling beetle.

‘The Entomophagy Welfare Act 2017’ explores the processing system and legislation that would have to be created to support the mass consumption of mealworms as an acceptable and ethical food source for western diets.

Lacking development and regulations has meant that the introduction of mainstream entomophagy has stalled. Currently, there is no law or legislation around the farming, slaughter or preparation of an insect for human consumption in the UK, meaning that even if a commercial company or kitchen wanted to utilise them, they may not be working completely within UK law.

Working with leading entomologists, I have researched, explored and proposed the cleanest, most humane and ethically efficient method of killing a mealworm for human consumption commercially or at home.

Through this project I hope to not only propose future legislation around the preparation and slaughter of mealworms commercially, but to also help make entomophagy more culturally, socially and ethically acceptable to a western society.

We’ll be posting regular updates from Green Lab on the project and you can follow Lucinda Pender on Twitter.

Entocycle and the Black Soldier Flies

It could almost be a new wave millennial pop group, but Entocycle, winner of the 2016 Mass Challenge Platinum Award have joined the growing number of early stage startups in Green Lab.

Entocycle are an innovative feed company developing an advanced and food sustainable system using black soldier fly to transform organic waste from farmers, food processors and wholesalers into multiple valuable products, surpassing current waste processing alternatives.

Black Soldier Fly
Black Soldier Fly

Organic waste inflicts a host of environmental impacts, including unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and inefficient use of water and land. One-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. By utilising the power of Hermetia illucens (Black Soldier Fly) to ‘up-cycle’ organic food waste into a sustainable protein feed, Entocycle are developing alternative and sustainable food systems for aquaculture and livestock.

“…urban areas like London are the biggest consumers of agriculture products yet they have absolutely no agricultural production. Places like Green Lab create a hub for agritech businesses in the heart of London. Green Lab is providing us with the great opportunity to boost our developments by sharing complementary knowledge with other agri-tech start-ups and by allowing us to successfully validate our technology whilst showcasing our prototype to investors and the community…”

Keiran Whitaker, Founder Entocycle

The team at Green Lab are very excited at the prospect of integrating Entocycle systems and processes into our aquaculture growing systems with trout and leafy greens. We’ll be publishing more over the coming weeks as the systems are developed.

You can discover more about Entocycle at www.entocycle.com.

Green Lab open for sustainable food start-ups

Green Lab finally opened its doors to a UK community of sustainable food and agri-tech startups on the 22nd June. After 4 months of hard work preparing the space, the old Bermondsey school kitchen has been transformed by leveraging materials sourced locally from a local theatre company, eBay, University of Arts London, decommissioned bio labs and an art freight recycler.

Green Lab, London’s first incubator workspace for sustainable urban farming entrepreneurs and ‘agritech’ startup businesses; creating a new city community for sustainable food innovators in the capital and country’s growing £14 billion agri-tech sector.

Media Release June 2017: Green Lab, London’s first incubator workspace for sustainable urban farming entrepreneurs.

Green Lab had been operating in stealth since February 2017 with a small team of agricultural mavericks developing the facilities, farming greens, insects, algae and supporting the early stages of the project.

Over 60 guests attended the launch event with the two founding partners Andrew Gregson and Mark Shayler welcoming guests and startup residents Entocycle, Friche London and Hexaponics showcasing their sustainable food startups.

Special thanks for go to 3Space, MartinsSpeed, Old Vic New Voices, LV Scientific, Carillion Services, Lorna Studholme, Pablo Lalor, Kent del Pino, Tim Storey, Edward Hill, Mark Shayler, Julian Blake, Jonathan Minchin and Dylan.

We’re very excited for next stages of the project, follow all our daily updates at @GreenLabOrg

PICTURES FROM OUR LAUNCH EVENT

Green Lab launch event
Entrance and the story behind Green Lab

Green Lab launch event
Welcome from the founding partners

Green Lab launch event
Kombucha and pesto workshop

Green Lab launch event
Basil pesto freshly made in Green Lab

Green Lab launch event
We’re just chilling

Green Lab launch event
Networking in the Green Lab

Green Lab launch event
Friche London selling freshly grown microgreens

We’re hosting our first monthly meetup on the 26th July – Are you an Agricultural Maverick?

Young Urban Farmers in Green Lab

In a partnership with Inspire, a Hackney based charity, Green Lab is to teach KS2 primary school children on the basics of urban farming and sustainability supporting the charity and their STEM-based ‘iDiscover’ programme.

Green Lab are hosting a series of educational hands-on workshops over the coming months combining the principles of recycling, plant biology, hydroponics, microgreens and creative drawing. The sessions are hosted inside Green Lab’s dedicated event space designed for messy workshops surrounded by leafy greens and small scale demo agriculture systems.

Over 90 minute workshop the children learn how something as simple as a 500ml water bottle can be turned into a minature farm for microgreens, using coir, perlite, knitting wool and a choice of two seed types. Combining this with an art exercise the KS2 children create animal faces for their bottles, with the fully grown microgreens appearing as ‘hair’ to complete the session.

Children have a chance throughout the sessions to sample different microgreens and learn about the agriculture projects taking place in the Green Lab.

The workshops are part of a broader educational programme Green Lab is offering for local schools in London ranging from simple microgreen workshops to full aquaponic system installations for UK school gardens.

Find out more about our education programme by contacting the team at hello@greenlab.org

Pictures from June workshops

iDiscover Workshop
Getting the seed started with a blast of water

iDiscover Workshop
Choosing microgreen seeeds for the planters

iDiscover Workshop
Designs for the planters

iDiscover Workshop
Designs for the planters

iDiscover Workshop
Working in groups in Green Lab

iDiscover Workshop
Illustrations for the planters in progress

iDiscover Workshop
Threading a wool wick through bottle tops

iDiscover Workshop
Lots of happy young farmers

iDiscover Workshop
Rabbit ready for cutting for the planter

Find out more about our education programme by contacting the team at hello@greenlab.org

Atlas of the Future: Green Lab is on the map.

Green Lab team is very pleased to have been included in the Atlas of the Future, an online curated atlas of real projects that are innovative with long-term vision and committed to lasting positive impact.

Read the Green Lab entry in the Atlas.

The Atlas lists project from all over the planet having a real impact on a local and global level, projects are chosen based on four criteria.

    • Projects have to be real. That means they aren’t dealing with the probabilities of futurology, the stuff of science fiction or in the research stages. They are really happening.

    • Projects have to be innovative. They bring a creative element or unique contribution to solving the challenges facing humanity.

    • Projects have to be created with long-term vision. The Atlas is not about one-off, flash in the pan ideas, but a real dedication to the future.

    • Projects are committed to lasting positive impact.

Atlas of the Future is inspired by the talent and energy of people across the world working to solve our biggest challenges and create a better tomorrow. As part of a non-profit being launched in Barcelona and London, our mission is ‘democratising the future’.

Read the more about the Atlas of the Future.

London’s first sustainable foods and ‘agri-tech’ incubator opens

Green Lab, London’s first incubator workspace for sustainable urban farming entrepreneurs and ‘agritech’ startup businesses opens its doors on the 22nd June, in an effort to create a new city community for sustainable food innovators in the capital and country’s growing £14 billion agri-tech sector.

Green Lab occupies a temporary space in Bermondsey, South London within 3Space, an urban regeneration charity.

Green Lab offers a collaborative and affordable studio environment, wet lab facilities, bio lab, growing spaces, access to a making workshop, an event space – and access to a network of experienced mentors and investors.

True to its mission, the lab itself has been designed and built using recycled salvage from a local theatre company, decomissioned biolabs and wood from art freight containers.

Green Lab is a place is for individuals to design, prototype and pilot food production systems, processes and agricultural technologies that can be taken from a bench-scale trial to achieve local and even worldwide impact.

Green Lab is already home to innovators working in aquaculture, lighting systems and alternative food sources. New businesses taking up space will join a growing community of social entrepreneurs who are expert in the field of sustainable food provision. There is enough space at the lab for 12 new businesses, occupying benches/desks on a residency basis with access to the community and facilities.

Andrew Gregson, the founder of Green Lab, said the inspiration to start the lab came from a series of visits he made to Valldaura, a self-sufficient habitat in Barcelona, as well as visits to Kew Gardens, one of the world’s oldest and best-known botanical education facilities.

Gregson, who previously co-founded Fab Lab London, an education and training facility for the capital’s ‘maker’ community, said: “I wanted to create a new creative workspace in London that blended traditional agriculture principles with tech innovation, in a bid to help grow sustainable new food businesses.

“Green Lab provides an opportunity to design sustainable food systems, with access to high-end technologies. We have designed a space that sits at the intersection of great design, technology, science and agriculture.”

Occupying two floors,Green Lab has a unique offer for startups:

    • Affordable studio space to incubate early-stage sustainable agricultural & food startups.
    • Workshop with hand tools, 3D printer, vinyl cutter, pillar drill and electronics bench
    • A vibrant 150 sq.m event space with adjoining kitchen
    • 24 bays to showcase examples of agricultural food systems in practice: aquaculture, hydroponics, algae, insects and fermentation
    • Fast WiFi and fixed internet access with secure storage for projects
    • Wet lab to prototype and experiment with larger installations of agritech and urban farming projects
    • Access to a specialist mentor and investor network focused purely on agriculture and urban farming

Green Lab opens its doors to the public from 2pm on Thursday 22nd June to showcase the facilities and the startups based there.

Find out more and register to attend at www.greenlab.org/openday

GardenTech: Future Urban Green Space

Green Lab will be taking part in the Chelsea Fringe 2017 festival on the 1st June at IDEALondon with the GardenTech team.

The event will bring together academics, charities, corporates and start-ups all working in London with NGO’s, developers and volunteers to improve the quality of the urban environment through the intersection of technology and urban green spaces, from window-boxes to Royal Parks.

Our world faces a unique set of challenges in the coming decades. Unprecedented environmental threats, such as climate change, biodiversity decline and loss of wildlife habitat, combined with accelerating global urbanisation, with an estimated 70% of the world’s population living in cities by 2050, means that at the very point we need to engage with environmental problems with real urgency, we find ourselves the most disconnected we have ever been from the natural world.

However, it’s not all bad news. It’s increasingly being recognised that nature and green spaces are vital for the health and wellbeing of people and wildlife everywhere. Not only this, there are many broader social and environmental benefits that can be derived from going outside and gardening including improved urban air quality, rainwater management, carbon mitigation and urban food production.

While many of the solutions being proposed are top down, driven by government or planning departments, this GardenTech event looks at how organisations and individuals are helping support the resilience of cities such as London by working from the ground up, giving people and their communities the tools they need to make a difference.

Moderated by Prof Kate Jones from UCL, panellists from imby.bio, Intel, the Peckham Coal Line and Green Lab will lead a discussion exploring new approaches to engaging with urban green space, including:

    • Hardware-focused, with the development of new ecological IoT devices to support environmental efforts;
    • Data-focused, revealing the existing connections between every urban green space;
    • Production-focused, exploring ways of feeding us from within the cities in which we live; or,
    • Community-focused, reimagining the ways in which communities and green spaces can exist together.

It’s a free event, and we encourage anyone with an interest in gardening, nature, parks, wildlife and urban spaces and how people interact with all of the above, to join and take part in the conversation.

Find out more about the Chelsea Fringe 2017.

AirBnB Making Terrariums in Green Lab

A small team from AirBnB joined by their CEO Brian Chesky spent the afternoon in Green Lab on the 10th March making their own terrariums with the help of Friche London. The AirBnB team were visiting a number of major capital cities as part of a global tour – the workshop was the first pilot in London as part of a new AirBnB initiative called Social Impact Experiences.

Given this was our very first event in Green Lab we were really excited and pleased to have hosted such a fun event with a great team: Friche London, 3Space. and Season Supper Club.

AirBnB - Social Impact Experiences
Ready. Set. Just need the people.

AirBnB - Social Impact Experiences
Friche conducting proceedings in Green Lab.

AirBnB - Social Impact Experiences
Everything looking good.

AirBnB - Social Impact Experiences
Mossy aftermath.

AirBnB - Social Impact Experiences
Happy AirBnB team with their terrariums.

AirBnB - Social Impact Experiences
Time for some lunch, prepared on site in Green Lab Kitchen by www.seasonsupperclub.com


What is a terrarium?
Terrariums are usually sealable glass containers containing soil and plants, and can be opened for maintenance to access the plants inside. However, terrariums can also be open to the atmosphere rather than being sealed. Terrariums are often kept as decorative or ornamental items.
Read more at Wikipedia.


Green Lab workshops and event hire
Green Lab has a large event space for all kinds of events, if you’d like to take part in one of workshops, hire the event space or just drop in to see what we’re up to – email hello@greenlab.org. We live in Bermondsey just a short walk from the station in an old school kitchen.

Creative Commons Licence
All images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.