Category: Lab Project


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.

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

 

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.

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

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.

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…

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.