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Help us turn a car park in central London into a sustainable urban farm using a specially modified shipping container and greenhouse.
Help us turn a car park in central London into a sustainable urban farm using a specially modified shipping container and greenhouse.
300 backers pledged £16,467 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

GrowUp! An aquaponic urban farm for London project video thumbnail
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£16,467

300

What's growing on here then?

We're Kate and Tom and we are GrowUp!

We want to show how fresh food can be grown anywhere in the city in a way that is ecologically sustainable and commercially scalable. For us, aquaponics is the technology that can make that vision a reality - by producing fresh fish and vegetables in a recirculating farming system.

So you're transfarming a car park?

With your help we will build our urban farm and open it as part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival in May 2013. We're planning to be onsite at 47/49, doing the installation from the start of April, and we'll have a grand opening in May. We'll then continue to farm the box across the summer and beyond! We'll be open to the public so that you can come along and see how its possible to grow fresh vegetables without soil, chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and produce fresh, sustainable fish.

Aren't there plenty more fish in the sea?

Actually no. Sustainable fish farming is a cause close to our hearts and we think cities need affordable, locally produced and sustainable sources of protein. Producing fish as well as vegetables is what makes us special and scalable.

Lettuce in on the secret - what are you going to use the money for?

All the money we fund through kickstarter will go to building the farm including:

  • The retrofitting of a used shipping container
  • The purchase and installation of a greenhouse
  • All the aquaponic kit to grow and look after the fish
  • Vertical growing towers to allow us to maximise the amount of vegetables we can grow
  • Baby fish and vegetables seeds to grow in the farm

Who else is part of this shoal?

We're working with some fantastic partners on this project.

47/49 are going to be the first hosts of the GrowUp box, allowing us to use their fabulous space in Bermondsey to get this project going.

We've been collaborating closely with the inspirational UrbanFarmers in Switzerland, following in their "fin-steps" to build the first Box farm in the UK and making the most of their world-class aquaponic research lab.

We're running the project as part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival and we share their dedication to encouraging energy and excitement around growing in the city.

We've also had the privilege of working with some very creative people.  Ben and Tom of Soul Cut Films worked their magic to create our Kickstarter video and Sam Cox is the brains behind the design for the structure of the box itself.

And if it all goes swimmingly, what next?

The great thing about aquaponic urban farming is that you can farm all year round. So we can continue to grow fish and vegetables in the box. We'll also be looking for larger spaces to "transfarm" to demonstrate urban farming on a commercial scale.

Just one last question - do your vegetables taste of fish poo?

We've never eaten fish poo, and our vegetables are delicious. Since the roots of the plants absorb the nutrients from the water, the leaves and fruits (the bits we eat) are clean, healthy and don't sit in the water.

Risks and challenges

Grow fish? Are you crazy?

No (not really), but we do know that this is something new, different and unusual and so we're doing everything we can to make sure this project is safe, sustainable and ethical.

We've got a crack team of experts who have advised us and helped us design this project, including the owners of the world's first aquaponic rooftop farm, an architect, a structural engineer and people who really like converting shipping containers into other stuff. This collection of expertise means we're well placed to deal with any challenges in the build and implementation of the project.

Tom has a background in ecology with commercial experience assessing and evaluating construction projects for their environmental impact, so we'll have a constant eye on the environmental and sustainability implications of this project.

Kate's experience with aquaponic farming systems and working on the UrbanFarmers farm in Switzerland, (as well as working on a communal rooftop garden in London) will help ensure the fish are healthy and happy and the plants are green and delicious.

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FAQ

  • Yes!

    If you are interested in buying your very own GrowUp Box then please get in contact with Kate and Tom through info@growup.org.uk.

    We have had a number of requests from people across the world who want to know if we will be making the design for the GrowUp Box available. Once the first Box is up and running we will carry out a full review of the design, implementation and operational processes and work out the best way to safely and sustainably spread the fish poo love.

    Last updated:
  • For us its really important that aquaponics doesn't replicate the unsustainability of traditional fish farming by feeding farmed fish on wild-catch fry. Since the fish food is the main input to the recirculating system it is extremely important for the health of the fish and the plants. The great thing about Tilapia is that they are omnivorous - and from the start of the project we will be feeding our fish on a vegetarian fish food (It tastes a bit like rice crispies - I tried it to see). There are a number of other options for feeding Tilapia, including duckweed, worms and soldier fly larvae (you can Google these to find out more information about why they each make a great sustainable source of fish food), and we hope that as our business develops in the UK we'll have the ability to produce more of our own fish food.

    Last updated:
  • We take the welfare of our fish very seriously - it's not very sexy to talk about killing fish, but we want to be totally open and transparent with our backers and our customers about how their food gets to them.

    When its time to harvest the fish we have two options. If they are a small enough breed then we can kill them in traditional fisherman's way - we'll take each fish out of the tank individually and hit it hard just behind the gills to break its spine. Some larger fish have very strong bones, and for this reason we couldn't guarantee that a single hard blow would kill them. For these fish we'll have a specially built kit. As with the smaller fish, we will take them out of the tanks individually and put them into a separate much smaller water container that allows us to stun the fish so that they are unconscious with a quick and very high electrical current and them kill them by passing a longer current through the water. Our research collaborators tell us that these are the most humane ways to kill the fish. We want them to remain unstressed for as long as possible because its better for them and also means they'll be tastier.

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About $8

    With your help we'll get along swimmingly! Get a thank you e-postcard from the GrowUp Box and be kept in the loop with how the project is growing through regular email updates.

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    49 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $15

    Become part of the GrowUp family - we'll send you a postcard and a handwritten poem by snailmail to thank you for your support. And of course, you'll be kept in the loop with how the project is growing through regular email updates.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 63 backers
    £
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About $38

    Be a chum and help us GrowUp - get your name painted on the side of the box and have a video-tour of the working farm sent to you by email. And of course, you'll be kept in the loop with how the project is growing through regular email updates.

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    73 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £35 or more About $53

    Fresh Salad Delivered! If you live in London, we'll deliver a fresh salad to you, grown right here in the box.

    We're all about local food so please only choose this pledge if you live in London!

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    Ships to Only United Kingdom
    Limited 18 backers
    £
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £55 or more About $83

    Taste it to believe it - take a personal tour of the box in London (for 2 people) and taste what we're growing - delivered by Kate and/or Tom themselves!

    If you can make your own way to London over the summer we'd love to show you whats growing on!

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    Ships to Only United Kingdom
    Limited 41 backers
    £
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £75 or more About $113

    Soak up a real bit of aqua-culture and get a ticket to our exclusive media launch party. Join us at the start of the Chelsea Fringe Festival to celebrate the opening of the farm.
    This pledge is your entrance to the launch party - if you can make your own way to London we can't wait to meet you at the box.

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    Limited 5 backers
    £
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  7. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £100 or more About $151

    Fresh food. Delivered. A packet of GrowUp smoked fish and fresh greens delivered to your door. That's right - we'll be smoking up fresh fish grown in London, in the box, for you to enjoy.

    We're all about local food so please only choose this pledge if you live in London!

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    Reward no longer available 10 backers
    £
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  8. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £500 or more About $756

    Chill with the fishes! Host a private party at the GrowUp box for you and 9 friends. Swim here, cycle here or come underground - we don't mind how you get here, we're just looking forward to showing you around.

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
    £
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,513

    Be the big fish - Host a supper club at the box - private dinner for you and 11 friends - based on locally grown produce and featuring ingredients grown in the box! Get here under your own steam, and we'll put on a blooming good meal for you.

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    Limited 1 backer
    £
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £2,500 or more About $3,782

    Be the life and sole of the party! Host a private event at the box for up to 25 people - including a tour of the farm and an introduction to aquaponics and urban farming from Kate and Tom. We're all about local food, so this pledge is best if you and your friends or colleagues are already in London.

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    Limited 0 backers
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  11. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £5,000 or more About $7,563

    Get involved hook, line and sinker and host the box! Look after the farm for 6 months after its summer residency at Tanner street - and have a fresh supply of fish and vegetables outside your door. This pledge doesn't include delivery, fish and veg stock or Tom and Kate - we will, of course, set the farm up for you in its new home and teach you how to look after it.

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    Reward no longer available 1 backer
    £
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Funding period

- (30 days)