How did the FARM:shop come about and what inspired you to set it up in a derelict shop on Dalston Lane?
FARM:shop started in 2010 when Hackney council ran a competition to come up with a use for a empty building on Dalston Lane. Something and son won with the idea of a urban farming hub showcasing what can be grown in a small space and also supporting other local food growers and produces.
What are the main crops you grow?
We mainly grow salad leaf and herbs (not the kind you would find in a super market) which we can use in the cafe in sandwiches, salads and soups.
Do you think aquaponics offers a sustainable solution to food growing needs in the City or is it more about educating people about where their food comes from?
Aquaponics is a great and easy way to grow food for yourself and family. There are some great projects around the world growing in cities using aquaponics selling to the local community not just producing food but training people who are interested in growing for themselves and starting food projects.
We hear the FARM:shop cafe makes a mean BLT, how else does the shop make money; workspace, events, workshops etc??
We use great local food and it’s made with love that’s what makes it so good. We support the project by offering desk space to start ups and small business, hiring the space for events from popup food events to meetings, run courses on aquaponics, a cafe and growing food to sell.
Why do you think London is lagging behind other more pioneering cities such as New York that has a number of high profile roof top farms?
We are but it is getting better all the time and not just in London all over the UK new growing projects are starting up all the time. From the number of people who visit us for advice I would say the future looks very green indeed.
What advice would you give budding Urban Farmers or anyone who wants to set up their own aquaponics system?
Give it a go, you don’t have to buy a readymade system which cost hundreds of pounds you can do a DIY system for a lot less that does the same but start small and once you have it up and running it’s easy to take what you have leant on to a larger system.