London has it’s first box farm raising herbs, salad greens and fresh fish all in the footprint of a shipping container sitting in a car park (a.k.a. parking lot). There’s been a rash of great ideas of what you can do to give new life to retired shipping containers, and while Kate and Tom of GrowUp weren’t the first to make it part of an urban farm setup, they are the first in the UK.
Kate Hofman isn’t a stranger to aquaponics. She’s worked on the Urban Farm in Switzerland who also operated a pop-up box aquaponics farm in the middle of a city. Partnering up with Tom Webster back in the United Kingdom was a natural next step in the journey. One that led them to look to cr0wdfunding to get their fillets and salad enterprise off the drawing board and into the real world. Their recent Kickstarter project post received more than the £15,000 they needed to put it all together.
Based on info and images gathered on GrowUp, it looks like they’re using 30 ZipGro Towers for their greens and herb growing. A good choice for maximizing the harvest from such a compact space. The greenhouse sits on top of the shipping container and appears that they’ve got 30 towers planted and being fed nutes from the two 1000 litre fish tanks in the shipping container below. They’re raising about 150 Tilapia this year and harvesting of meat is guaranteed to be done in a humane manner.
Their farm is truly sustainable and commercially scalable – though it is very possible to house this system in a backyard. Note the solar panels on top of the greenhouse. Unlike the average fish farm, the Tilapia at GrowUp aren’t dining on feeder fish, they’re eating vegetarian fish food while alternatives in sustainable food sources are investigated further.
“The GrowUp Box showcases the potential that aquaponics offers for sustainable commercial urban farming.”
Organic fish and salad is a sure winner in any port of call today. GrowUp is also mobile – it can be relocated. Something an enterprising mind might like to kick around. Kate and Tom are currently operating from the Marlborough Playground car park on Union Street in Southwark, and were a feature in this spring’s Chelsea Fringe Festival. They’re not pulling up stakes and leaving because the festival ended in early June. If you’re interested, stop on by. Anyone is welcome to visit and checkout what’s growing on. They are open to the public on weekends through the summer.
What does the future hold for GrowUp and Kate and Tom? As far as the pop-up urban farm goes, they’re not sure if it’s staying put or relocating is in the works for the next grow. The horizon looks to be really fishy for these two urban farmers. They’ve got plans for expanding to rooftops and brownfield land around London from here.
Once they’ve finished this grow, you might be able to purchase your own GrowUp Box setup from them. They’re just waiting to make sure it all works out according to the planning before they start selling pop-up farms to anyone who is interested. Like anything new, remodifying is always a possibility.