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Crate To Plate By Joanna Vestey

Climate-friendly food sprouts up in unlikely places

Joanna Vestey, recipient of the TPA/RPS Environmental Bursary, discovers an imaginative answer to food security issues

Elephant and Castle in inner-city London is an unexpected location for a farm. Nestled amid the high-rise housing estate tower blocks are three repurposed shipping containers embellished in street-art style illustrations of lettuces.  

This is Crate to Plate, a pioneering sustainable growing initiative that uses cutting-edge technology and LEDs to produce leafy greens and tasty herbs right in the middle of a megacity. Joanna Vestey photographed Crate to Plate as part of her TPA/RPS Environmental Bursary series Metamorphosis, which showcases a number of innovative and climate-friendly agricultural projects.  

By the year 2050, world food production will need to increase by 70% to feed the predicted future world population of nearly 10 billion, according to the United Nations. Unpredictable weather patterns caused by global warming are making this more and more challenging.

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“They've got a really clever system,” explains Vestey of Crate to Plate; it involves hydroponics, a method of growing plants using water infused with a mineral nutrient-rich solution instead of soil. In Crate to Plate’s 40-foot containers, plants grow vertically, producing year-round harvests of the same yield as an acre of farmland with 95% less water. “Locals can use an app to buy the food they need,” Vestey continues. “It’s exciting that they’re bringing this right into the heart of communities.”  

The farming process solves a plethora of problems. With no need for pesticides, the nutritional value of the food is higher and there are no carbon emissions in transporting it as people can just pop by to collect what they need.  

“For kids in the area to see this happening brings real added value for community wellbeing,” says Vestey.

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All images of the Crate to Plate initiative from the series Metamorphosis by Joanna Vestey

Joanna Vestey is recipient of the RPS Environmental Bursary 2021, run in partnership with The Photographic Angle. Discover more about Metamorphosis in the September/October issue of the RPS Journal. 

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