We are proud to announce the latest business to plant itself at Elephant Park: Crate to Plate.
Is it another great place to eat? A retailer? An event space? No, it’s very different from anything we’ve brought to Elephant Park so far... It’s an urban farming venture committed to growing fresh leafy veg in the centre of London for local communities. Watch out, Elephant & Castle is going green!
The company, founded by former banker Sebastian Sainsbury, has been growing leafy greens inside three massive shipping containers on the Isle of Dogs for years. He and his team then went on to cultivate a successful site, similar to the new Elephant Park model, at Canary Wharf. On working with the team he said, ‘Lendlease is committed to delivering innovative and sustainable real estate solutions, and we are delighted to be involved in helping them achieve a more sustainable living culture and further sense of community, across their developments.’
So how does it work?
The team harnesses state-of-the-art hydroponics technology - a combination of horticulture and hydroculture - which allows crops to be grown without soil, pesticides or chemicals. Despite the ‘hydro’ name, vegetables and greens cultivated by this method such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries and lettuce use far less water than traditional methods; up to 95% less. It’s also a fantastic space-saver, with each 40ft container achieving the same production as over an acre of farmland.
Two of Crate to Plate’s farms have been placed on-site at Elephant Park as part of the £2.5 billion regeneration project in Elephant & Castle which will yield over five tonnes of fresh produce per year, namely lettuce, rocket, kale, pak choi, herbs, microgreens and more, all grown within storage containers on site. On harvesting the haul of greens, the produce can be delivered to local people in 24 hours, as well as quickly stocking the cafes and restaurants at Elephant Park - talk about minimal carbon footprint.
And how do things taste?
In one word: delicious. As a result of the minimal water used in growing the veg, and the speed with which it can be delivered (literally, crate to plate in hours), the produce is fresh and consistently superb quality with the highest possible nutrient value and absolutely zero nasty chemicals sometimes used in traditional farming. Because of the control Crate to Plate farmers have over the process, and the clean, soil-less environment in which they grow, herbs such as basil, parsley and rosemary burst with flavour and fragrance and vegetables and leafy greens pack a crunch.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of this method of growing is that produce is available all year round. The benefits of the technique mean that local restaurants, markets and home cupboards can be stocked with minimal emissions and at far less cost to the environment annually. Indeed, this seems to be the best time to roll out the project, with 40% more Londoners having searched ‘where does my food come from?’ during lockdown than ever before. Founder Sebastian Sainsbury recognises the area as one which will benefit from the business of urban farming: ‘At Crate to Plate, we are strongly committed to supplying residents of Elephant Park and the wider Southwark community with the freshest and highest quality, non-GMO food possible.’
Join us in welcoming this fresh new venture to the Elephant Park family. For more information on Crate to Plate - the work they do and the wider impact of urban farming - visit the website here.