[GUEST BLOG]

Faazi is a geography student at King’s College London. She provides her thoughts below on our second Sustainability Forum on sustainable food production and social entrepreneurship. 

The GrowUp story

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Tom Webster on starting up the GrowUp farm

For our second forum we were lucky to have former King’s student Tom Webster come to talk to us about GrowUp, his sustainable urban farming business. Tom and his business partner Kate use vertical growing techniques and aquaponics to grow salad and vegetables and farm tilapia fish. Vertical growing means that food can be grown with much less space than traditional farming, which is ideal for cities – and also reduces transport emissions. The fish tanks are kept inside the greenhouses that the vegetables are in, so the heat from the tanks also heats the greenhouse. Aquaponics is a farming system where water is kept within a loop: the nutrient-rich water from the fish tanks is used to nourish the plants and is then recirculated to the tanks, so energy and water use are kept to an absolute minimum. Tom and Kate raised the initial costs of £16000 through a Kickstarter campaign, where anyone can donate to your project in return for a small gift once the project is up and running – proof that with a bit of work, anyone can take their ideas to the next level!

Brainstorm on sustainable food at King’s

As a group, we came up with loads of brilliant ideas to make food at King’s more sustainable. There isn’t a big range of healthy food sold in King’s Food outlets, and the labels don’t tell you how the food was produced and where it came from. Switching to sustainable, local suppliers who used seasonal food would reduce the carbon footprint of the food that we consume on campus. There is currently a farmer’s market every Tuesday on Guy’s Campus which sells local food, and it would be fantastic to have something similar on all five campuses.

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Meat-free Mondays 

We also talked about extending Meat Free Mondays from an occasional to a regular occurrence: it’s a national campaign to sell and consume only vegetarian food every Monday. Meat production, especially of red meat, uses far more water, land and energy than vegetarian food (not to mention is much better for the animals!) We also talked about opening vegetarian cafes to encourage people to eat meat-free more often. We came up with some fun ideas too, such as a student and staff vegetable growing competition and having allotments at College residences, and perhaps even roof gardens on our campus buildings! Last but certainly not least, we asked Tom if he would be interested in opening a branch of Grow Up! on campus to provide tasty, sustainable food on the go.

Join us for Green Week! 

We discussed the need to publicise our activities and make sure more King’s students know about what we’re doing and how they can get involved. The more people we have on board, the more sustainable King’s will be! Green Week is coming up from 10-16 February across the College and we’ll definitely be looking to promote sustainability at King’s. Join our Facebook page and look out for our next event!