Entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring are planning to transform the passageways under London’s Northern Line into the world’s largest subterranean farm. The project, named “Growing Underground,” would grow 2.5 acres of fresh veggies for London restaurants and supermarkets. The ambitious project is backed by Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr., and it will become a reality if the team can raise £300,000 in the next two months through their crowdfunding campaign.
The tunnels that Ballard and Dring want to use once served as air raid shelters in World War II, but they have remained vacant ever since. Located adjacent to the Northern Line’s Clapham North station, the tunnels lie 100 feet below street level, they have a constant temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and they are untouched by the air from the London Tube.
Ballard and Dring have developed special farming arrays that can grow three layers of produce using LED lights and hydroponics. The farms would grow pea shoots, rocket, red amaranth, mizuna, broccoli, garlic chives, red vein sorrel, mustard leaf, radish, coriander and Thai basil. The fresh veggies and herbs would then be transported all over London, bringing locally grown foods to restaurants and markets.
Growing Underground is both an adaptive reuse project and a farm with a minimal carbon footprint that will grow food below the businesses that buy it.