The rooftop is the reason we acquired the building, we see rooftops as underused spaces in the modern city. A space for mechanical plant and air conditioning units is the current status quo – why not utilise that space for growing food? It is better for the environment long term, help educate the local community by doing so and ultimately it will contribute to improving urban quality of life, create jobs and provide the freshest food possible.
We are not competing with rural farmers that we love, are irreplaceable and on which cities will always rely on for the vast majority of the food – we just want to do our best to grow as close to where it will be consumed as humanly possible.
Does the rooftop supply your restaurant and bar?
Yes, as much as humanly possible. We harvest everything we grow, and grow to harvest. The likelihood is that if you visit the Culpeper, you’ll consume something from the rooftop (be that a garnish for your drink, a part of your dish, or something in your pickle).
We also work with a number of thoughtful and well considered suppliers – unfortunately it is impossible to meet demand for our food with the space we have, but it is very much our vision to reach this point by transforming other rooftops to grow with and for us.
Is it not heavily polluted, being in Central London?
No. Pollutants are a concern to us, as they are to anyone growing in a heavily congested area, but the harmful ones are from car engines such as lead and metals from brake pads. Not only do the plants we grow to eat not have enough time to absorb these before they are harvested, those metals are denser than air – so do not reach the heights we grow at.
How big is the space?
The garden is 1,400 sq ft and we’re growing in around 500 sq ft.
What type of soil do you use?
The main component of what we grow in is mushroom compost (reused from mushroom farms) mixed with horse manure and top soil. We maintain fertility by using a wormary to create liquid feed from kitchen left overs.
What do you grow most on the roof?
We grow vegetables that are suited to small spaces to fit the roof conditions, and have high productivity to ensure as much as possible for the kitchen. We use older varieties that taste great and are often more suited to kitchen gardening. Salad leaves and herbs are in the garden all year round, supplemented with courgettes, beans, tomatoes, chilies, aubergines, and some root veg in the summer. We’re hoping to add dwarf trees and climbing fruit to the garden to use the vertical space and grow pea shoots and micro herbs in trays. We’re trying to grow as much as possible in a small space and would love to share what we’re doing with anyone interested and really welcome input – particularly from other growers!
I’m interested in urban growing, can I volunteer on the roof?
Yes. If you’d like to help out in the garden and learn about organic rooftop growing then you’re welcome to work along side Jack or Janelle on their weekly work days. Get in touch on the email address below!
Will you run workshops?
We’re are currently running roof garden workshops on some specific aspects of urban growing with the aim of helping people grow food at home. Topics include growing in containers, making herb planters and successive cropping and will be held on Saturdays monthly.
Can the roof take that weight?
Yes – the building used to have two further floors (there are a few stories about what happened to them) so we know that the building can support that but just to be on the safe side we’ve had structural engineers rate our loading to much more than we need.
What about in winter?
We have a greenhouse for all year growing and plant winter hardy veg during the colder months.
Is it organic?
We’re not certified Organic but we grow to organic standards meaning we use no chemicals on the soil or plants. We try to use companion planting and good husbandry to avoid pests and diseases and growing on a roof helps as well!
A network of rooftop growing spaces with associated pubs.
Each rooftop featuring a space to learn about, be inspired by, grow, and cook with locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
I have more questions, who should I direct them at?