New city farms

Food, Nutrition and Agriculture
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Arzosah
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New city farms

Post by Arzosah » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:35 pm

I've just been reading this article:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... the-future

And honestly, if I was in my 30s and wanted a sidegig with the chance for it to become full time, I'd go for it :) microgreens or mushrooms.
There's a farm in Clapham in London
http://growing-underground.com/ AND THEY DO TOURS! Sorry for shouting :oops: £40 is really expensive, of course, but it's the equivalent of a theatre ticket, I guess. The dates overlap with my catsitting stay, so I'm going to go for it, even though I don't usually do evening things.

There's a free exhibition at Roca London Gallery in West London, roughly:
http://www.rocalondongallery.com/en/act ... detail/206 (hmm, Zaha Hadid, the daughters are those models/ selfie merchants?)

There's also a V&A exhibition, May to October this year.
https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/food- ... -the-plate
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Arzosah
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Re: New city farms

Post by Arzosah » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:30 pm

Booked a ticket for the tour round this place, 33m underground at Clapham :) and I've contacted the organiser about writing about it and taking pix.
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Arzosah
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Re: New city farms

Post by Arzosah » Wed Mar 06, 2019 9:11 am

They didn't reply to my email, but that was because the information sheet they sent round two days later contained everything I wanted to know and more.

I managed to go on the tour last night. It was great, I left there beaming! Took loads of photos, made loads of phone notes. They produce an amazing amount of food, mostly into shops in London at the moment, but their deal with the supermarkets they supply to is more than doubling - 40 shops to 110 shops.

As far as prepping goes, it was a hands-on experiment in how to be more self sufficient.

- no soil, they buy carpet offcuts from a firm in Preston that turns them into items fit for agricultural use.
- they have guttering and tanks that recycles their nutrient mix for a couple of goes (I didn't catch how long they recycle it for, and I'd asked enough questions by that time :oops: )
- when the substrates from carpets are done, they're taken to a power plant a few miles away and used as fuel to produce more electricity.
- they offset the "day" of their led lights to our daytime, to help even out temperature fluctuations. Ventilation down there is on an industrial scale, so they need to do that.
- the levels of hygiene were fierce: hair nets, beard nets, coats, welly boots, and asking about whether people's phones had cracks in before we were allowed to take photos. In the open air, it wouldn't need to be quite so intense, of course, but it was good (and funny) to see.

Definitely lots to blog about.
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diamond lil
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Location: Scottish hills

Re: New city farms

Post by diamond lil » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:49 am

That looks amazing. I read somewhere about a man who wanted to use old coalmines for growing, I don't know if it ever happened. Great idea.

Arzosah
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Re: New city farms

Post by Arzosah » Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:16 pm

That would be a great idea, Lil, absolutely. It ties in well with the exhibition I mentioned on the first post here, at the Roca Gallery in Chelsea, which was also fascinating: http://www.rocalondongallery.com/en/act ... detail/206

Basically imagining what could be done if initiatives all over the world were taken up en masse. Some of the ones that really grabbed me:
- circular, opaque buildings, built on city roundabouts, used as insect farms.
- domestic insect grow-spaces, about the size of a set of filing trays, that could provide 3 servings of protein a week.
- the use of blank end walls of buildings to become vertical growing spaces, like multi-level greenhouses.
- hydroponic farms for flat roofs in the city.
- a living wall system called Florafelt (I've seen it in use in Norwich city centre).
- a beehive made of recycled plastic (has to be a market for it, for it to continue to be recycled!).
- briquettes for multi-fuel stoves made from coffee grounds :) I really like this idea, coffee grounds always seem a bit too strong to go straight onto the garden, though I do that with the contents of teabags.

I do think there are a few useful things preppers can take from the green initiatives that are around, particularly re-use of previously waste materials, and lessening/ eliminating food miles :)
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Catweazle
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Re: New city farms

Post by Catweazle » Sun Apr 07, 2019 8:55 pm

Interesting project, I can see how it could be economic for high-value herbs delivered very fresh to gourmet customers, although more common veg would be a challenge.

Last year was dismal for my growing, mostly pressure of work but also the Beast from the East weather system, and two subsequent snowfalls that meant I couldn't get my plants going in the polytunnel.

This year I bought two LED growlights and have my plants under them in a sunny conservatory. I started them a bit late, but they're looking sturdy, no legginess.

Next year will have more growlights, and undersoil heaters powered from a wind turbine. I'm currently looking for a very large greenhouse to replace the polytunnel, because the skin is end-of-life and a used greenhouse isn't much dearer.

Arzosah
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Re: New city farms

Post by Arzosah » Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:18 am

Catweazle wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 8:55 pm
Interesting project, I can see how it could be economic for high-value herbs delivered very fresh to gourmet customers, although more common veg would be a challenge.
I checked out their produce in the shop that was near to where I was staying - it was more expensive than an established microgreens business in the West Country, but I forgot to take note of the prices - I'm there again next week, so I'll check. It's good that there's a choice, but you're spot on, it's definitely gourmet in this context.
Last year was dismal for my growing, mostly pressure of work but also the Beast from the East weather system, and two subsequent snowfalls that meant I couldn't get my plants going in the polytunnel.
Ug :( my siblings and I were moving furniture between Liverpool and south east England on the day that the Beast struck - sister and I came back a day early on the train, and my brother had absolutely brilliant preps for the day, plus he set off so early he made it down here by 10am :D
This year I bought two LED growlights and have my plants under them in a sunny conservatory. I started them a bit late, but they're looking sturdy, no legginess.
LEDs seem to be the way to go. I've been experimenting with lentil sprouts grown in a standard supermarket punnet on a windowsill, no protection of any kind, and they've done okay, but very, very slow.

I researched grow tents after writing opening this thread, and slowly realised, from the number of adverts that promised "no light leaks out" that they're mostly used for a crop that isn't entirely legal in this country :mrgreen: not lentils!
Next year will have more growlights, and undersoil heaters powered from a wind turbine. I'm currently looking for a very large greenhouse to replace the polytunnel, because the skin is end-of-life and a used greenhouse isn't much dearer.
That sounds amazing, it will certainly give you a much-extended growing season. And you have your own wind turbine? Please write more, with pictures, seriously.
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Catweazle
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Re: New city farms

Post by Catweazle » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:45 pm

I don't have a wind turbine, but it won't be too long before I start tests on a DIY vertical axis type. A couple of years ago I cut a hole in a hedgerow / wall ( the earth type so common in Wales ) between two fields. I was surprised that even on a fairly still day, the wind whistled through this gate, funnelled by the length of the hedgerow. I thought then that fairly small vertical turbines could be built in gaps in the hedge without intruding on the growing space in the fields.

The next complication is what to use as a generator, and how to make use of the electricity. I considered winding a DIY generator, but efficiency would be low. A car alternator would work, but needs high RPM ( gearing losses come into play ) and a DC supply to energise the coils. Dynamo would be OK, but difficult to find in decent size. Also, converting from what is generated into useable household voltage requires expensive inverters.

I decided the simplest way is to use a permanent magnet 3 phase servo motor driving heaters directly. The most energy used is for heating, and the windiest time of year is conveniently the coldest.

Next snag: huge cost rises of the rare earth used in permanent magnets means they are not used much now for the size of motor I needed.

Luckily I recently found some for sale on eBay, 17 off 3kw motors, plus controllers and various electronics, for £500, so I bought them. Ex Hungarian State Theatre. They're currently in the South East, my son collected them for me and is bringing them to Wales on his next visit.
Image

Arzosah
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Re: New city farms

Post by Arzosah » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:56 am

I mistook the timing of your wind turbine :) and omigod, you sound *seriously* knowledgeable about electrical matters, Catweazle, all power to your elbow (in a manner of speaking :) ).

I love those vertical axis designs, from what I understand they're less lethal to wildlife too.
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Catweazle
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Re: New city farms

Post by Catweazle » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:10 pm

An interesting feature of permanent magnet motors of the type I have bought is that you can simply electrically connect two together and one will follow the other - one working as motor and one as generator. This can greatly simplify an application such as using a windmill to pump water - the windmill doesn't have to be where the pump is. In fact the possibilities are many, as long as you don't need accurate speed control.


I like the idea of a windmill powered rotavator.

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