Trio help build unique underground farm

The underground farm in London.
The underground farm in London.

Three engineers from the Pocklington area have played a key role in a unique project to build an energy-efficient LED farm 100 feet below the streets of London.

Tim Coats, of Broadmanor, Pocklington, Sean Molloy, of Chapmangate, Pocklington, and Matt Scott, of Barmby Moor, were contacted more than two years ago over plans to create the underground farm in a disused air raid shelter under the northern tube line. The trio run a company called Multi Level Growing.

The farm, which is the brainchild of Steve Dring and Richard Ballard, both from London, is now complete and has gone into production, supplying local restaurants and markets in London with fresh micro herbs. The ‘Growing Underground’ project featured on the popular BBC show Countryfile recently.

Tim said: “Growing Underground has been so successful that Multi Level Growing will return later this year to expand the farm further.”

Multi Level Growing worked with specialist lighting manufacturer Valoya LED Finland to design and develop a micro herb and micro vegetable growing system that would fit into the tunnels. With the help of expert agronomist Chris Nelson, they built prototype systems and conducted trials designed to best utilise the tunnels and provide 500 square metres of underground growing space.

A successful full scale trial of the growing system was carried out in Yorkshire in a mock-up of the tunnel. Everything had to be designed to be carried down 12 flights of spiral stairs piece by piece, and be assembled in the tunnels.

It consists of a flood bench system to grow the plants in under the LED lighting system. The plants are fed using a bespoke hydroponic and filtration system which recirculates and replenishes the nutrients in the water on a daily basis. The system worked well and was transported to Clapham in London and assembled and tested in the tunnels.