Calthorpe Living Lab


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About the project

Mila works on the cafe 4 days p/w, Rokiah coordinates the closed-loop model 2-3 days p/w. Marina and Louise are involved on an as needed basis.
To demonstrate an organic closed-loop model where food waste is transformed in a micro anaerobic digester into biogas and fertiliser. The fertiliser is used to grow food and the biogas is used to extend the growing season adding CO2 in the process. A community cafe completes the loop using the food grown on-site to create delicious homemade food, while food waste from the cafe goes to the digester. The project aims to become a research resource and inspiring behaviour change by transforming the perception of waste into that of a valuable resource. It aims to expand its scope to maximise training, educational and employment opportunties for local people.Food waste is a growing problem in developed countries, particularly in cities. Currently, 7 million tonnes of the stuff is thrown away each year from households costing £12.5bn a year. We want to integrate localised waste management with intensive urban food production and community food-related enterprises to support the move towards a circular economy. Cutting down on food waste could save the average family £700 a year, while managing waste and growing food on-site cuts down on waste and food miles and diverts food waste from landfill where the methane and CO2 it emits is lost to the atmosphere contributing towards climate change.We come from a community and academic background so our business model needs some work! The cafe is already up and running and managing to support itself. Plants grown on-site are sold to the public. Using the biogas and fertiliser to grow more food, we could potentially save costs for the cafe. Some of the waste collected attracts a small collection fee.

The most promising area for income generation we have identified is around training (continuing professional development - CPD), site visits for researchers and other interested groups, and educational programmes for visiting school groups. For these, we need to develop programmes and extra infrastructure an signage around the gardens.Louise Gates - Manger at the Calthorpe Project, a well established community centre and gardens near Kings Cross with a cafe, food growing areas, childrens' activities, football pitch, table tennis etc.
Mila Campoy - Calthorpe Garden cafe manager and group leader
Marina Chang PhD - researcher at CAWR (Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience) at the University of Coventry specialising in urban food enterprise approaches.
Rokiah Yaman - Director of Community by Design, and LEAP - a cross sector partnership developing micro anaerobic digestion and the urban closed-loop model.
Purpose of the project
To demonstrate an organic closed-loop model where food waste is transformed in a micro anaerobic digester into biogas and fertiliser. The fertiliser is used to grow food and the biogas is used to extend the growing season adding CO2 in the process. A community cafe completes the loop using the food grown on-site to create delicious homemade food, while food waste from the cafe goes to the digester. The project aims to become a research resource and inspiring behaviour change by transforming the perception of waste into that of a valuable resource. It aims to expand its scope to maximise training, educational and employment opportunties for local people.
Your impact
Food waste is a growing problem in developed countries, particularly in cities. Currently, 7 million tonnes of the stuff is thrown away each year from households costing £12.5bn a year. We want to integrate localised waste management with intensive urban food production and community food-related enterprises to support the move towards a circular economy. Cutting down on food waste could save the average family £700 a year, while managing waste and growing food on-site cuts down on waste and food miles and diverts food waste from landfill where the methane and CO2 it emits is lost to the atmosphere contributing towards climate change.
Your business model
We come from a community and academic background so our business model needs some work! The cafe is already up and running and managing to support itself. Plants grown on-site are sold to the public. Using the biogas and fertiliser to grow more food, we could potentially save costs for the cafe. Some of the waste collected attracts a small collection fee.

The most promising area for income generation we have identified is around training (continuing professional development - CPD), site visits for researchers and other interested groups, and educational programmes for visiting school groups. For these, we need to develop programmes and extra infrastructure an signage around the gardens.
Your team
Louise Gates - Manger at the Calthorpe Project, a well established community centre and gardens near Kings Cross with a cafe, food growing areas, childrens' activities, football pitch, table tennis etc.
Mila Campoy - Calthorpe Garden cafe manager and group leader
Marina Chang PhD - researcher at CAWR (Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience) at the University of Coventry specialising in urban food enterprise approaches.
Rokiah Yaman - Director of Community by Design, and LEAP - a cross sector partnership developing micro anaerobic digestion and the urban closed-loop model



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