In an innovative collaboration – thought to be the first of its kind – Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) has teamed up with Square Mile Farms and has installed a vertical, hydroponic farm at The Hub, a Build to Rent scheme in Harrow.
The Harrow Hub Residents’ Farm is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK. This pioneering move by ASI is a sign of their ambition to set the benchmark in the booming shared-living sector, while embracing the highest environmental standards. As well as fitness facilities, a café and work space, The Hub – which is let and managed by JLL – now has its own herb and vegetable supply.
Covid-19 and the lockdowns it brought have highlighted the need for essential goods and services to be more local and accessible. Ideally, this could also include food production. What could be more local than having an indoor farm in your Build to Rent building?
“This is a trial initiative with Square Mile Farms and the quality of the farm is fantastic with the fit out carried out in a very professional manner. We are really keen to see the level of resident engagement in growing their own fresh produce onsite and their interest in sustainable living in general. The farm will provide an opportunity for our residents to engage with each other as they manage and harvest their own crops promoting positive wellbeing”.Haseeb Hassan, Senior Investment Manager, Aberdeen Standard Investments
There are two reasons for bringing an indoor farm to The Hub Build to Rent scheme. The vertical farm allows residents to grow their own fresh produce where they live, and harvest it when they need it. Secondly, it creates a platform for community engagement and knowledge sharing around important issues such as wellbeing, through nutrition and food choices, and sustainability.
The Harrow Hub Residents’ Farm consists of a vertical, wall-mounted system in the communal lounge, and hydroponic towers across two floors of the building. Because the systems are vertical, they take up very little space, and LED grow-lights make it possible to grow the plants indoors. Square Mile Farms designed the farm to fit into wall furniture in the communal lounge, so it adds to the visual appeal of the space and is accessible to residents.
“It’s been great working with ASI and JLL on this project. ASI immediately saw the value to the residents of having a farm on site, and JLL embraced it. This is a modest-sized farm, but it’s a pilot. PRS schemes have rooms for swimming pools and gyms, why not farms too! It’s got to be the future for co-living.”Benjamin Dean, COO, Square Mile Farms
The Harrow Hub Residents’ Farm is hydroponic, so no soil is required – just nutrient-rich water which is recirculated over the roots of the plants. The farm grows 188 leafy green vegetable, salad and herb plants at a time.
The world’s food systems contribute more than a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Locally grown produce is a valuable way of reducing emissions associated with food-miles.
Square Mile Farms manage the farm, facilitating weekly, communal harvests, and delivering produce to the doors of the residents. They also run workshops on growing your own and cooking with veg, while providing a Plant Doctor service for residents should they wish to try their hand at growing on their terraces, balconies or their kitchen countertops. Fresh seedlings are grown on site.