farming

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Design Food Science

An Underground WWII Bomb Shelter in London Has Been Converted Into the World’s Largest Subterranean Hydroponic Farm

September 10, 2015

Johnny Waldman

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Over 100 feet below the bustling streets of London is a cavernous, abandoned space. Originally built to serve as a bomb shelter during World War II, it was designed to house and protect the lives of nearly 8,000 people. The space remained abandoned for close to 70 years until entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring decided to turn it into the world’s first subterranean farm called Growing Underground. And surprisingly, where the sun doesn’t shine turns out to be an ideal setting for a garden.

The vertically stacked hydroponic beds are best for growing small, leafy greens that have a short growth cycle like watercress, Thai basil and Japanese mizuna. And with a state-of-the-art computer controlling temperature, lighting and nutrients the subterranean farm can deliver consistent produce without sunlight (or pesticides!) and with 70% less water than conventional farms, hence the company’s parent name: Zero Carbon Food.

With the help of chef Michel Roux, the operation is now partnering with local restaurants to deliver farm-to-table produce in under 4 hours. Once fully operational, it’s estimated Growing Underground will be able to produce between 11,000-44,000 pounds of crops annually. (via Bloomberg)

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Food Photography Science

Fascinating Satellite Photos of Seaweed Farms in South Korea

April 30, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center just shared these fascinating satellite photos taken in January 2014 over the shallow waters around Sisan Island, South Korea. The tiny patchwork of small squares are entire fields of seaweed that are held in place with ropes and buoys to keep the plants near the surface during high tide but off the seafloor in low tide. Via NASA Earth Observatory:

Since 1970, farmed seaweed production has increased by approximately 8 percent per year. Today, about 90 percent of all the seaweed that humans consume globally is farmed. That may be good for the environment. In comparison to other types of food production, seaweed farming has a light environmental footprint because it does not require fresh water or fertilizer.

You can see much more of what’s happening at NASA lately by following the Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr.

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