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New Urban Farm Sets Up Shop In Dalston

BY Boon Koh
Published 27 October 2010

I read about this new farm-slash-shop opening up in Dalston in the Evening Standard, and it just struck me as the one-story-summary of the transformation happening in Dalston and Hackney.

It started out years ago with the arty types who wanted to live in urban areas but needed cheap accommodation and lots of space for their studios. It turned out that the masses of abandoned and disused warehouses in the former industrial sites of Hackney, including Dalston, were perfect.

Now, the transformation is accelerating, with the arrival of the new Overground Line (formerly the East London Line) making it infinitely more accessible to the general public. Not only is Hackney awash with the arty type now, but also with young professionals looking for a pad close to the city but at more reasonable prices.

Throughout the last two years, trendy shops have started opening, and now comes FARM:shop, which aims to be an urban farm – in a disused shop in Dalston.

I haven’t been yet, but its now down in my to-do list, but according to the Evening Standard news article, the basement is being turned into a mushroom farm, with tanks for growing tilapia fish and freshwater prawns. There will be a chicken coop on the rooftop, and pigs reared in the garden. I wonder if the pigs and the chickens are slaughtered on the premises – this will make for some really fresh meat, but I wonder if the majority of the London public will be able to survive such a traumatising shopping event. There is, of course, a big growing trend towards buying locally and buying fresh produce and meat, but I’m still guessing most people want to have their meat already sliced and diced and still before they lay eyes on it.

Still, I’m hoping this urban food project will find a root in London and branch out to other areas; its great to be able to connect with your food and get them as fresh as possible, and while the growing techniques used will not be traditional (e.g. hydroponics for the vegetables), its a step in the right direction of reconnecting with the food that we eat.

The FARM:shop will be open on the 31st October onwards, from Fridays to Sundays. There will also be tours at 1pm throughout the whole of November.