London’s top sustainable restaurants

The Clerkenwell Kitchen

Up first is the winner of the 2008 Time Out “Best Sustainable Restaurant” award. The Clerkenwell Kitchen prides itself on its endeavour to serve locally-sourced produce. To this end, most of it’s produce comes from London-adjacent Buckinghamshire, and also Mill Hill. Although not completely organic, the Clerkenwell Kitchen does acquire its meat from traditional farms as opposed to those that employ intensive farming.

Based in – you guessed it – stylish Clerkenwell, this one is top of our list and well worth a stop by.


The Modern Pantry

Keeping it Clerkenwell, we skip down the road to another Urban Farmer favourite – The Modern Pantry! We can attest to this little gem’s beautiful Sunday Brunch, perfect for that weekend hangover that you need to shake.

The menu of this gorgeous little deli-cum-restaurant is forever changing. This keeps the style and feel of the place fresh, and also wonderfully in-season. The setting is just divine – slap bang in the middle of the historic St. John’s Square with the midday sun falling on the front step, so sunglasses for hangovers can be perfectly acceptable!


Franklins

Hopping over the river now, to Franklins. Another brunch hotspot favourite for us here at the Urban Farmer, Franklin upholds the ethos of locally-sourced produce. In fact, it’s about as “local” as it gets. Beers, local. Produce, local. Meat, local. Bread, homemade! So if you’re eco-conscious but fancy a lovely meal out, Franklins is your best bet!

Also, after you’ve eaten, pop across the road to the Franklin Farm Shop, where you can pick up something to tide you over later in the day!


The Vanbrugh

Our list’s top pub choice. The Vanbrugh is the place for those of you who want to eat ethically, while catching the latest game. The Greenwich-based Vanbrugh sources all its pub-style food locally, and the beer is too. This family-friendly bistro pub is an all-weather favourite, so bring the kids!


Damson & Co

Last but not least, a trip to sultry Soho is not complete without a late lunch at Damson & Co. This restaurant has a very British feel to it, and that comes through especially in its menu. All the produce is locally-sources, and the restaurant also encourages you to partake in one of its many varieties of English wine! Who’d have thought… English wine! Well we guarantee you won’t come away from this place left wanting – it really is a must!

Looking at London: Public Open Space

Map of London Greenspace Open space
Image rights granted by Maria Longley at Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL)

The Urban Farmer took a look at some stats collected by Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL Source) to assess just how much of our beautiful capital is open space with public access. Generally, the picture looks quite good!

Total Area

However, not everyone is benefitting from this huge amount of public open space. As you can imagine the great majority of this open space lies to the outskirts of the city. And as this dataset takes outlying boroughs into account, much of the space is to be found in Hillingdon, Richmond, Bromley and the like.

A better measure would be to look at how individuals can access this green space. The image is much graver. Measuring people’s access to all four categories of open space, only 16.6% of Londoners have access.

Access

There are some stars however. When we reduce the figures to just the 10 central London boroughs, Tower Hamlets comes out on top with almost 6 million square metres of open public space.

Islington doesn’t fare so well, and has the smallest amount of open space of any London borough by a long long way! Just 2 million square metres!

Havering is London’s open space star, with 67 million square metres! That’s 20% more than the London average!

Inds

Buy Locally?

Now it’s all well and good singing the praises of buying local produce, and supporting local farms – but how feasible is this? You may have seen in our previous post where we interviewed a local pub manager, that sometimes buying local produce just isn’t practical or cost-effective. But what about individuals? Is the picture any different?

We we asked you guys to find out! We asked you about your food purchasing habits, and the results have been interesting… Let’s take a look!

Groceries

We started with the basics – groceries. Where do you get yours? Of our 62 respondents from the community, a massive 92% said they bought theirs from a supermarket. Arguably, this is no surprise. Supermarkets have become massive in the past few decades, and much to the detriment of small businesses. But it’s nice to see at least 5 of you still supporting local business.

Meat

Now meat is a different picture. While we may have opted for convenience when it comes to buying groceries, we still – fortunately – very much have a butcher’s culture in the UK. This is supported by our survey results. Despite an overwhelming majority still going to supermarkets to buy their meat, eight of our respondents are prepared to seek out quality over price buy purchasing from their local butcher’s.

Why?

But why are people leaving behind local business in favour of the quick-fix supermarkets? Convenience. That was the option that came out on top when we asked why. It would seem that “convenience stores” (as they’re called Stateside) are really living up to their name – 80% of people chose that as the reason they shopped there. Cost was also a big one for most people – and the simple truth is, supermarkets are a lot cheaper! And finally, Quality – a sad truth is that a lot of people seem to believe that supermarkets can be better trusted than independents. They see the clean packaging and good branding as an indicator of quality.

We asked you guys what might induce you to buy more locally – here are some of the responses:

  • “[If] it matches the cost of the supermarkets there or there about. I buy fruit and veg from local market stalls but the produce isn’t local but it’s cheap. Budget is my main constraint.”
  • “More availability. Where I live, I have 3 supermarkets within a mile. Don’t even know if there is a market, butchers or grocers in town.”
  • “Better Quality and Price”
  • “Cheaper Produce”
  • “Better advertisement showing locally produce products and where they are available.”
  • “All the butchers round me are halal and I don’t like halal slaughter”
  • I try, but in London it just isn’t convenient, affordable or easily accessible”
  • “Nuffink”

Interview with The Peasant’s Joel

We were curious at the Urban Farmer. Curious about just how restaurants in the middle of an urban metropolis get fresh produce everyday, and where it comes from! To this end, we took a stroll to one of London’s favourite pubs, just down the road – The Peasant! While there, we spoke to pub manager Joel about just how an inner-city pub can provide great food, every day.

Thomas: Hello Joel, can you introduce yourself?

Joel: Sure – I’m Joel and I am the manager here at the Peasant.

Thomas: What kind of customers come to the Peasant?

Joel: Well we have a lot of offices in the area, so it’s generally a lot of people coming on their lunchbreaks. Oh, and at the end of the day – especially Fridays. This place can really fill up. But I suppose when we get to the weekend, it’s much more of a destination pub rather than somewhere you might fall into. We’re pretty well known for our Sunday Roast, so I think people often come down just for that.

Thomas: Oh lovely – what Sunday roast do you do?

Joel: Meat with the usual trimmings. Pork belly, beef, chicken, and a veggie option. And of course, giant Yorkshires.

Thomas: Do you get those meats locally?

Joel: Unfortunately not. Our meat tends to be from Yorkshire and Suffolk. It’s hard to get local meat.

Thomas: How about all the other produce?

Joel: Well all our fruit and veg is seasonal and we try to source that as locally as possible.

Thomas: Is that difficult?

Joel: Yes. It really is quite difficult to buy locally. It’s a cost issue really. As a pub, we served pretty reasonably-priced food. We’re well-priced in comparison to other places in the area. Some restaurants might chose to source their produce and meat locally and often organically, but for us to maintain our prices, that’s not so easy. Don’t get me wrong, we try to buy as close to us as possible, but sometimes it’s just not practical.

Thomas: Are there many markets nearby for you to even do that?

Joel: A couple. And it depends on the daily market prices, we might add something new to our menu. If something is affordable, we’ll get it.

Thomas: How about your beer, is that local?

Joel: We try to buy all our draught beer from within the M25. Definitely. I’d say we have at least 80% local beers.

Thomas: And finally – do you think the Peasant would benefit from more green space nearby?

Joel: I suppose, but I don’t know where they would go. It’s a shame we can’t have more green spaces in London, but the fact of the matter is, there’s no room. We could cultivate the spaces we already have, but beyond that there’s literally no room without knocking a few buildings down…

Thomas: Thanks Joel!

Joel: No problem.

The Urban Farmer’s Lunchtime Hotspots!

Good Morning!

So the bank holiday is over, but look on the plus side – four day working week! In order to make those four days as enjoyable as possible, we at the Urban Farmer have compiled a list of our favourite lunchtime destinations that provide us that midday kick to see us through the afternoon. Local produce, local people, and great food…. so let’s dive in!

Exmouth Market

This one has it covered – from Japanese and Vietnamese, to French or Italian – Exmouth market has an abundance of lovely restaurants. But best of all, when the clock hits twelve, Exmouth Market plays host to an array of fantastic food stalls! German, Thai, Indian, Turkish… there’s no end of choice, and much of it locally sourced!

Learn more here!

Whitecross Street Market

Just a little further South is another hidden gem. Popping up at midday for stressed office workers, one can hope to find hog roasts, vietnamese noodles, and french baguettes. While you’re at it, take a chance to browse some of the arts and crafts stalls that accompany the food market!

Learn more here!

Lower Marsh Market

Flying South of the river now, to one of London’s most underrated market destinations. Lower Marsh Market recently launched its Produce Market – so while you’re grabbing a lunchtime bite to eat, grab yourself the components of a lovely, locally-sourced supper! From fruit and veg, to meat and game; Lower Marsh has you covered!

Learn more here!

Berwick Street

A reliable lunchtime spot in the heart of Soho. Also, while you’re here take the chance to support local business and browse some of the other stalls to see what’s on offer…

Also, check out their new stylish website here!

Kew Village Market

Now for the most charming of the markets on our list. Kew Village Market truly is a taste of the countryside in London and is a stalwart for us here at the Urban Farmer. The produce on offer is unparalleled and while it may not be feasible as a lunch spot for you City workers out there, stay-at-home mummies and daddies might want to take advantage of the wonderful weather a take a trip here. Enjoy a pot of tea, a scone, and some thoroughly good company!

Learn more here!

Broadway Market

And finally we leave you with our star choice – Broadway Market. Broadway is experiencing a bit of a revival at the moment and it’s well-deserved. This market upholds all the values we hold dear here at the Urban Farmer – supporting the community, sourcing locally, and great food! We won’t try and explain the place too much, just make sure you go visit… SOON!

Learn more here!

Distribution of Urban Farms in London

Following our little trip to Mudchute Farm on the Isle of Dogs, we thought we’d locate some of our great capitals other urban farms. We’ll take a look at the distribution of our most loved spots – spoiler alert: South London’s been given the raw deal!…

Kentish Town City Farm

Kentish Town City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

Situated just two stops North of London Zoo, Kentish Town City Farm can still very much be called a Central London day out. With stops on the Thameslink, the area is very well connected in an area that is rapidly gentrifying

Hackney City Farm

Hackney City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

We glide eastwards now to the lovely area of Haggerston in Hackney. Hackney is one of London’s less affluent central London boroughs, so the protection of free days out like the one this small farm provide are essential. Again, well-connected, Hackney City Farm is surrounded by some lovely cafes and places to buy fresh London produce.

Spitalfields City Farm

Spitalfields City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

A few blocks South of Hackney City Farm, the borough boasts a second Urban Farm – Spitalfields. This is one of London’s longest-running farms and is close to the famous Spitalfields Market

Stepney City Farm

Stepney City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

Yet another Northern farm is the Stepney City Farm. Education is the focus of this farm, providing a learning experience to many of Tower Hamlets’ young population. Tower Hamlets is another of London’s more deprived central London boroughs, so this farm has become a pillar of the community in the area.

Mudchute Park and Farm

Mudchute Park and Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

Our old friend, Mudchute. Arguably our favorite Urban Farm here at the #UrbanFarmer. We’ve spoke about Mudchute at length, but safe to say, this farm and the surrounding park have come to be a crucial community pitstop from families on the Isle of Dogs

Surrey Docks Farm

Surrey Docks Farm London
Google Maps Screenshot

A relatively new Urban Farm in the shadow of Canary Wharf – this slightly upmarket farm (if there ever was one) offers so suitably metropolitan experiences, including yoga, a monthly farmer’s market, and even a blacksmith’s forge – all alongside some rather charming cows.

Vauxhall City Farm

Vauxhall City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

We head South of the river!… but not too far. A short walk from the Palace of Westminster lies Vauxhall City Farm. Though this farm may be compact, and mostly dedicated to allotments, it recent won the “Commitment to the Community” award, showing just how important these endeavours are for the surrounding area.

Hounslow Urban Farm

Hounslow Urban Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

Now for the Black Sheep of the list – Hounslow! When visiting this gigantic farm, expect to hear the constant rumble of aeroplanes as it lies under the flightpath of airport behemouth, Heathrow. But this illustrates just the point we want to make here at the Urban Farmer – there’s no such thing as an unsuitable place for a farm or open space! Even next to the World’s third-biggest airport!

So what can we deduce from this list? With only two of these great days out South of the river (and even then, so central they’re not worthy of “Southern” status), it begs the question: Why does the North have it so good?!

LONDON
Creative Commons Wikipedia

There have been drives in recent years for more dynamic open spaces in Central London for the public (indeed, all these farms offer free entry), but with central North London boroughs boasting some great Urban Farms, maybe it’s time the South gets a little more TLC!

Urban Farmer Meets Kew Little Pigs

Our reporter, Thomas Newton, went to meet Olivia from Kew Little Pigs.
Kew Little Pigs own two farms – one in Richmond, and the other in Buckinghamshire.
The all-female team at Kew Little Pigs have been raising and exhibiting miniature pigs since owner Olivia’s daughter took a shining to the critters after seeing the classic piggy film, Babe!

Find out more about Kew Little Pigs at: http://kewlittlepigs.com/

And follow us on twitter at: https://twitter.com/urbanfarmerLDN