A Bermondsey office has salad leaves growing up its walls to demonstrate that people can grow their own veg in their homes.
Ed Hill, 26, has been growing perpetual spinach, a type of chard, on a ‘green wall’, and lamb’s lettuce in the window of the Keeton’s and Collett (3Space) building in Keeton’s Road as part of his project Shoots & Roots.
The science researcher uses a hydroponic system to grow the lettuce and other plants using water and nutrients but without soil.
“The idea was for it to be a live performance,” he told the News. “A lot of people just buy lettuce and if I asked you how long it takes to grow you would have no idea.
“It was meant to be there for people to see when they come in through the entrance and as they are walking by so they can just peer in and see there are lettuces growing in the window and wonder how it works.
“It’s this permanent public installation and you are constantly connecting; with the window on either side you can create a really nice dialogue.”
Ed is a researcher in science communication, focusing specifically on people’s relationship with the natural world and urban ecology.
He has been working on a number of projects over the last eighteen months in a studio within the Green Lab at 3Space in Keeton’s Road, which is a co-working space founded by Andrew Cribb and Henry Mason.
The Green Lab is a large incubator space where researchers and designers focus on projects looking for solutions to urban food, water and waste challenges.
Another of Ed’s projects within the lab is Salad Bar – a vertical, aquaponic system designed as an example of an urban farming system that can be fitted into a small space.
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (in this case raising fish in a tank) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) which uses the fish waste to feed the plants.
He has even created a smaller, portable system which can be made for less than £40 to be used in the home.
“Lots of people now don’t have gardens where they live so if you have a spare windowsill or hallway it enables you to suddenly have a bit of that freedom again where you can start growing something,” Ed explained.
“You could grow your own chillies, chards, tomatoes or courgettes; what we are trying to demonstrate in this space is that you can grow basically any plant, it’s just having the right system and design.
“A really important element for me is trying to get these things into people’s homes and you can have a system look after itself and that’s the beauty behind it because it increases the success rate and you will try to grow something again.”
The Green Lab has an open house from 7-9pm on the last Thursday of every month for anyone interested in finding out more about the projects currently being worked on.
The first in a series of talks – which will be on the topic of mushrooms – is also taking place on May 29.
All events are listed on www.greenlab.org
To find out more about Ed’s work, visit: www.theurbanresearcher.uk