The blog


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.