FARM:shop in Dalston, London- 09.03.11
Here’s the latest discovery from Justine based in London!
20 Dalston Lane in the heart of East London seems an odd address for a farm. But Dalston’s FARM:shop is literally a farm in a shop. Once a derelict store, the shop is now a shop/cafe/meeting place and farm all in one. It is home to hundreds of growing plants arranged in every setup imaginable from a backyard polytunnel to hydroponics setup where plants are fed by the fish. It is even home to a flock of rooftop living chickens!
A perfect combination of public spaces/projects with urban farming, I knew this one would be right up our alley, and when I heard about the hydroponics and chickens on the roof, I knew it would be one not to miss. More photos on the next page!
The unassuming store front is moments away from Dalston Junction station. I stepped inside to find a rather unexpected welcome of a large shoal of tilapia and walls of the plants they were helping to feed. The shop is incredibly welcoming and we felt like we’d stepped inside a friend’s (extremely awesome) living room.
The cafe/shop stocks local honey (meant to do wonders for hay fever), shitake mushroom kits, seeds and more and the cafe serves up a number of dishes as well as delicious cakes (I can vouch for the delectable blondies!).
Out back lie more surprises, a small pond (for the slug-eating frogs), a polytunnel (complete with a disco ball for parties) and countless pots of fruits and vegetables.
There was more urban farm fun up the stairs, including a plant-lined meeting space, an impressive hydroponics room that glows through the door and the rooftop chicken coop!
The coop is home to rare breed hens from Church Farm who happily cluck away as they look down at passing buses. Thanks again to Andreas and his lovely girlfriend for being so accommodating and letting me tromp around the roof to play with the chickens!
Londoners should definitely check this treasure out. In addition to being a fun place to wander around the FARM:shop also proved a great place to relax and enjoy some tea and cake. The confused faces of bewildered passersby provide great entertainment too! The project also represents the successful collaboration of so many partners: Hackney Council, Aquaponics UK, Growell and Church Farm.