Author: greenlab


COVID-19: Green Lab Hibernating

COVID-19 Update May 2020

Like all other makerspaces, Fab Labs, co-working spaces, incubators and shared labs the Covid-19 pandemic has hit us hard, making it very difficult to operate and provide regular access to lab services and equipment. Green Lab is no different and in early April we decided to put the entire lab into hibernation, closing our doors for access, storing our equipment and rethinking how we operate in a post-Covid world; the pandemic also co-incided with our 2020 lease ending.

We spent most of April and May packing and sorting all the equipment for storage, surprisingly five Luton vans loads left our site in Bermondsey destined for storage on a farm; enormous thanks to our Lee Valley farmer.

As for the future, we’re working on a new strategy and plan to re-open Green Lab in late summer (July/August), with a new space for early stage idea development, new education programme and two new amazing projects we’ve been working on in the #closedloop #urbanfarming area.

Naturally we miss so many things from our Bermondsey lab but we’re looking forward to opening a new lab and sharing news of the projects.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates as we announce them.

Stay safe.

Naked Green Lab

From a Green Lab, to a naked lab.
 
Wet Lab
Grow Lab (Lower kitchen area)
 
Event area
Community space
 
Lab office
Lab office
 
Bio lab
Bio Lab
 
Material lab
Material Lab
 
Fab lab
Fab Lab (makerspace)
 
Material library
Material Library (thanks to Anoushka Cole and Materiom)

Fab City Hub launches at Green Lab

Green Lab are excited to announce the opening of a Fab City Hub in London.

The Fab City initiative is leading and enabling a shift away from the industrial paradigm of Product-in Trash-out in the context of urban environments, specifically how cities tend to function. The intiative is driven by a need to enable the return of manufacture to cities supported by a locally productive citizens developing and creating products for local needs, producing food, materials and energy locally; minimising waste and generate a greater sense of self worth and awareness of sustainable circular systems.

Green Lab hosted the a launch event and open workshop on the 28th November 2019 with over 40 participants from diverse backgrounds working collectively to try to answer three key questions relevant to development of Fab City London.

  • Who is critical for the development of Fab City London and why?
  • What are the stakeholders agendas in relation to Fab City London?
  • What assets/resources do we/they have access to?

Tomas Diez opening presentation

Working groups in Green Lab

Fab City aspirations

Working groups in Green Lab

Curation outcomes from the workshop

Fueled by our friends at Fourpure Brewing and the enthusiam and passion of key participants Daniel Charney, Nat Hunter, Ande Gregson, Zoe Powell, Adam Thorpe and others the outcome from the workshop culminated in stakeholder and landscape map – helping to create a path for London in 2020 as part of the Fab City.

Special thanks goes to Tomas Diez, Skyping in from Colombia to introduce and open the proceedings, talking through the Fab City Stack.

Green Lab has committed to host regular meetups through a newly formed group designed to bring together the Fab City London Collective in 2020 – join to be part of the conversation and keep informed of what’s happening at the Fab City Hub in Green Lab.

JOIN the Fab City London – Meetup Group

Grey Consulting announce a strategic partnership with Green Lab

Grey Consulting has announced a strategic partnership with Green Lab: Grey Consulting and Green Lab are on a mission to radically change the way food is produced and consumed.

 
The partnership allows Grey Consulting to provide clients with expertise and innovative thinking when it comes to designing, new sustainable food systems that balance health, nutrition and ecological principles whilst putting people and the planet at their heart.

Grey Consulting is a new kind of strategic consultancy, combining analytical rigour with lateral creative thinking at the speed of a start-up. The team is working with clients in sectors as diverse as banking, public health, retail, FMCG and entertainment, and reshaping the way that businesses grow through its verified Wholebrain approach.This approach allows businesses to break down problems in a neurodiverse way, identify unique positioning and stand out from the crowd.

WholeBrain thinking allows Grey Consulting to be even more diverse and to attract partnerships with innovators at the bleeding edge. This, married with the group’s focus on sustainability, are two key factors that have formed the collaboration with Green Lab.

Leo Rayman, CEO of Grey Consulting, said: “Green Lab is an incredible group that harnesses technology to find simple solutions to complex food problems. We can’t wait to get going and to work with GreenLab towards a more sustainable planet, as climate change and sustainability is the ‘mother of all complex system’. We can only resolve it by working collectively to create systematic change.”

Andrew Gregson, Founder and Director Green Lab, said: “Green Lab and Grey Consulting team have a shared a philosophy of creative innovation and nurturing radical ideas, and when the opportunity presented itself, I was very excited to bring bleeding-edge food systems thinking into a partnership with Grey Consulting.”

Find out more about Grey Consulting.

Learn to build an Urban Aquaponics system

We’re opening the lab at the weekends to run our regular hands on aquaponic workshop: Design and build your own urban aquaponic farm.

 
We’ll show you how to grow your own food using fish waste and a water recirculating system. Using low cost equipment and recycled materials you’ll learn how to source, design and build a system for your home or garden.

You’ll come away with a better understanding of

  • How to design an urban aquaponic system
  • Learn about which fish to chose, and how to look after then
  • Grow leafy greens and fruiting plants
  • Fish biology, water chemistry and basic farming techniques

We have a limited number of places. Tickets are £120 (ex fees)

Register to attend

A Closer Look At Bioplastics – A Solution to Plastic Waste?

(Green Lab, 2019)

Caroline Wood, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield (studying parasitic weeds that infect food crops) attended the Circular Economy Club’s event hosted at our openhouse in May, to learn more about the labs involvement in the current bioplastic debate. Since, Caroline has continued her research and published an interesting article on whether bioplastics are the answer to tackling the growing single use plastic issue.

In her feature Are bioplastics the solution to plastic waste?, Caroline lists the different types of bioplastics available and describes their composition. She provides some transparency on how bioplastics are recycled and composted, an area that is increasingly coming into question – with some bioplastics requiring specialist facilities, separate to the recycling of conventional plastics.  Moreover, she compares the environmental footprint of bioplastics with the impact of conventional plastics, with some bioplastics using raw materials, putting equal pressure on sea and land resources.

For this reason, Caroline advocates that it would be better to use waste materials for bioplastic production instead of creating a new need for resource intensive raw materials. By doing this, most of these waste materials would be available to the public. Caroline explains that “locally-produced, abundantly available waste materials […] [offer] the chance to move plastic production from large corporations to community ventures”. Caroline also met with Green Lab residents Materiom whilst at the event. Materiom are an online open source database that share bioplastic recipes and therefore encourage anybody to create their own bioplastic materials. An important area of there research includes utilising waste materials as a resource, as well as localised manufacture and recipes that can be adapted to suit location.

However, for bioplastics to become mainstream, there are many challenges to overcome. One example Caroline mentions is the possible food allergies linked to some bioplastics’ raw materials, with some ingredients containing gluten for example, having a negative affect on individuals with coeliac disease.

In conclusion, the real issue is our single-use society. The most effective and sustainable way to move forward would be to reduce and reuse certain products and materials, with bioplastics acting as an alternative option only when reusing items is unachievable – ie the medical industry.

Read it here.

Growing bannetons from mycelium & food waste – Research Resident Candyce Dryburgh

Candyce is a design and material researcher who is also a baker and fermenter. She has now her Local Forms project to the Lab. Having done her masters in Material Futures at Central Saint Martins, many of her projects are often driven and dictated by materials.

Her current project, Local Forms, rose from the constant daily battle of having to work with bad quality proving baskets. A banneton, also known as a proving basket, is integral to the process of making bread and as a practising baker she is in contact with them on a daily basis. The dough proves in the banneton over night before it’s turned out, dusted off and baked in the oven.

The bannetons currently used in most artisan bakeries are either made from wood pulp or woven from wicker. There is an outcry for objects to be made from more reliable sources and materials. Currently there is a big conversation amongst the baking community around how the quality of the wood pulp banneton has dropped over the years. To kickstart the project Candyce reached out to bakers across the country : both home bakers and bakers on a larger scale. Her mission was to understand the relationship between baker and banneton.

An important fact came up through this research : most, if not all, wood pulp bannetons are made in Germany by a large company, who are not very approachable. They have claimed that nothing has changed about their banneton production, but bakers who use and rely on them on a daily basis argue otherwise. This gave Candyce the motivation to explore and tap into current UK waste streams aiming to bring the banneton back, stronger and more local than the previous years.

While exploring with bio plastics and coffee waste (that was being collected from the cafe which is part of the bakery where she works) she stumbled into the realm of mycelium. Being a home grower of vegetables, she wondered what it would be like to ‘grow’ a banneton.  Mycelium is an amazing organism that finds nutrients from what we deem as waste. Through this new found interest and awe in the mycelium kingdom Candyce’s project became about how we can localise and grow bannetons from the local waste.

The ‘Myco-farm’ started off in a very domestic setting : a room in the house and wasn’t too successful during the winter months due to lack of temperature control and contamination. It was put on hold for a bit while she took part in the BioHack Academy at the WAAG in Amsterdam. While doing the 10 week course, amongst loads of other tings, she learnt basic lab etiquette and but also had the time to teach herself about cultivating mycelium on a very small and sterile scale.

On returning back to London her current challenge is to get the mycelium growing strong enough to not have to be in a completely sterile environment and is now also experimenting with different shapes and materials that the mycelium will grown in.

One major factor of this project is the cost. From the get go it was essential that the project cost a minimal as possible, from the mycelium starters to the substrate that the mycelium is grown on. So far everything is collected locally, coffee and flour waste from the bakery that Candyce works at, saw dust and wood chip from a local carpenters.

As with everything that is grown, it’s impossible to tell if its successful right away. LocalForms has become a game of patience and waiting, a bit like baking.

 

Research Residency Wrap-Up: Sneha Solanki

Sneha Solanki is an alumnus of our research residency programme. She is from the A to Z Unit, a “culinary research facility with a mission to map, investigate and interact with food systems and ecologies.” During her time at Green Lab, Sneha worked on her MICRO_FOOD project through which she is building a library of micro-organisms. Sneha believes that micro-organisms need to be acknowledged for their hard work which often goes uncredited in our food systems. Sneha developed extensive diagrams and maps of the library, focussing around the themes of Infrastructure, Interchange and Exchange. In her preliminary research, Sneha adopted a multi-disciplinary approach and spoke to experts in each one of her 3 grand themes.

  • Exchange – Sneha collaborated with Kate Rich from Feral Trade (an art project/grocery business experiment). “Kate offered thoughts on workable and sustainable economic methods and models whilst also discussing scale. A project of this nature doesn’t offer the usual economic ethos of ‘scale’ or ‘scaling-up’ but does offer one where scale moves in a horizontal or a ‘network’ format.”
  • Interchange – Sneha spoke with participatory artist and consultant Alexia Mellor about the design of the library. Conversations included working towards a travelling library which could reach the “commons”, a DIWO approach (‘do it with others’) and how library might translate into a workshop setting.
  • Infrastructure – Sneha worked with Dr. Sarah Jayne Boulton, a Biomedical Sciences Researcher from the University of Newcastle with an interest in stress pathways and energy generation in cells. Together, they discusses food safety procedures – especially in terms of fermentation which “can be seen as a process of ‘spoiloing’ and stressed the accountability of maintaining, storing and distributing micro-organisms and microbial food/beverage items.”

Over the course of her residency, Sneha also visited BrewLab and learned how to sequence microbial DNA to generate precise for the library knowledge about which micro-organisms are present in samples.

In the meantime, Sneha spent a lot of her time at the Lab fermenting Egyptian Kombucha using hibiscus tea and experimenting with long term storage of yogurt cultures.

Sneha also benefitted from conversations with fellow Green Lab residents Pilar Bolumburu and Zoë Powell from Materiom. Sneha writes, “We had a ‘library’ to ‘library’ conversation including looking at the concept of a library, interfacing elements digitally, tool hacking to make infrastructure more accessible and less wasteful, and we also spoke about future ‘library’ to ‘library’ collaborations.”

We look forward to more updates from Sneha as her MICRO_FOOD library continues to expand! You can find out more about her work here.

Sneha plans on returning to Green Lab in Autumn 2019 to lead a workshop. Please drop us a line at grow@greenlab.org to register your interest.

 

 

How to mitigate agriculture’s contribution to climate change?

https://www.farminguk.com/images/News/48918_1.jpg

Image: www.farminguk.com

Our friends at the Green Alliance think tank just produced a new report that caught our attention: Cutting the climate impact of land use. It got us thinking on how we can mitigate the agricultural sector’s contribution to climate change.

Green Alliance highlighted how urgent transformation is in this sector: “action must be taken now to reduce emissions and lay the foundations for the longer term transformation required.” The report also looks at land use as an opportunity area: “in the often overlooked land use sector, the UK now has an unprecedented chance to set a clear course and accelerate the pace of change.”

Here are some (amongst many) of the interesting approaches to change agricultural practice proposed in the report:

  • Afforestation: Green Alliance estimates that we need to be planting at least 70,000 hectares of new woodland per year (that’s almost twice the area of Sheffield).
  • Diet: The trend towards healthier diets needs to be accelerated, reducing red meat and dairy consumption by at least 30 per cent by 2030.
  • Sequestering carbon: This can be done by focussing on agroforestry and the improvement of salt marshes, woodlands, peatlands and wetlands. Using more wood in construction, also provides long term storage for carbon sequestered in trees.
  • Bioenergy crops: Crops such as Miscanthus and short rotation coppice willow are low-cost and low-maintenance and can be used to make bioenergy.
  • Biochar: Similar to charcoal, biochar is formed by thermal decomposition in a limited oxygen environment. It can store carbon in the soil for extended periods while improving soil fertility and quality.
  • Manure management changes: Innovative techniques such as treating manure using anaerobic digestion can be effective.
  • Improving soil management: Measures include the controlled use of nitrogen fertilisers to match inputs to field conditions more closely; increased use of organic residues, such as livestock manures and digestate from the processing of food wastes and crops; and more cultivation of legumes, which fix nitrogen in the soil and reduce the need for fertilisers.”

And (if you’re not convinced already): “If we get it right, there are many benefits beyond reducing emissions. Many of the measures to decarbonise land use will also contribute to greater soil protection, improved water and soil quality, flood mitigation, biodiversity and recreational benefits, and they will support a more productive and resilient food system and greater societal wellbeing. UK farmers and land managers will be central agents in cutting emissions from land use and will also benefit from low carbon practices. But policy needs to support them through this transition, providing the incentives to innovate and adopt new measures, and ensuring that best practice is supported by consumers and supply chains.”

A good read. Find it here.

 

 

Grow something in February

Grow something in February

If you’ve ever wanted to get started with your very own urban agriculture project, new business idea or just grow for you local community Green Lab is the place to try your ideas during February.

We are offering free access* to the lab for 30 days to a flexible bench space or grow space, it’s a great opportunity to start that idea, try out the Lab and meet our community using London’s only urban agriculture and sustainable foods workspace.

Whether you want to grow microgreens, rear insects, grow algae, try your hand at fermentation or precision agriculture with robotics, we have the growspace and facilities to support you.

Spaces are limited, so be quick – but to find out more and get free access for February please email us at grow@greenlab.org before the 31st of January 2019.

What is Green Lab?

*Free access excludes utility cost for any growing projects requiring lighting, heating or pump systems.
Basic utilities need to be covered

Green Lab in Malaysia

Green Lab Founder, Andrew Gregson, spent the last week in June 2018 participating in a 5 day workshop in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia in partnerhip with Westminster University, The British Council and University of Malaysia. The intensive trans- and multi-disciplinary five-day workshop was funded by the ‘British Council Researcher Links’, designed to foster an ecosystem for developing resilient social enterprise through entrepreneurial learning.

Over 40 participants from the UK, Europe, US and Asia converged in Kota Kinabalu to take part in the project. Over the five days, small teams traveled to : Kundasang (agro-tourism), Keningau (livestock tourism), Kota Maradu – Teringai (banana plantation), Kuala Penyu (emerging industry), Tambunan (mulberry plantation) with a view to understanding rural needs, potential for social entrepreneurship and to establish local projects.

Mentor and Coaches
Mentors and coaches meet at the start of the week for briefings

Green Lab’s role was to act as a mentor to ‘Team Banana’ (our self nominated name given our project location, and love of the local Sabah banana). Team Banana traveled to the ‘Teringai, Beach and Cafe lodge’; exploring a banana plantation, local community and social ecosystem, building a social context and understanding of the landscape, listening to the needs of the rural community and creating a proposal for social entreprenuership.

Teringai
Teringai Beach and Cafe Lodge
Teringai
Coastal location
Teringai
Visiting local communities

Teringai
Getting to know the landscape
Teringai
Listening to residents
Teringai
Working as a team

Our final proposal and pitch focused on improving local environmental conditions; removing plastics from beaches, edcuation workshops for schools, recycling waste materials and encouraging local communities to self initiate and lead activities. Of the five proposals from the competing teams, presented for peer review at the end of the week, Green Lab and our Team Banana won: our small pot of prize funding will initiate a research project and implement the start of our social entreprenuership.

Team Banana
Team Banana – winning team at Malaysia SITEL 2018

To close the week, we spent Friday morning cleaning a beach at UMS (University Malaysia, Sabah) – sadly the local community disgard a large proportion of plastics into the sea, which accumulate on a beautiful adjacent sandy retreat.

Collecting rubbish from beach

Collecting rubbish from beach

Collecting rubbish from beach

We’d like to thank the SITEL team at Westminister for organising the workshop, their organisational skills and the inspiring team made the project possible. Green Lab is very much looking forward to making our ‘Team Banana’ project come to life.

For more background on the SITEL project visit the Westminster Application page.