Category: Education


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.

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.

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