Growing food on waste coffee – the Espresso Mushroom company…

We are big supporters of creating new things from waste, especially as most waste – with a bit of thought – can be redirected into creating new products. This can come in many forms, from buildings that  can be created from waste materials (like the Waste House in Brighton) through to new consumer products (such as truck tarpaulin bags from Freitag). And we predict that this pattern will escalate over the coming years as we start to realise that raw materials are either too scarce or expensive to use. It is a huge opportunity for designers to think in the circular rather than linear. But it is not just products that can be created – what about our food? This is exactly what the Espresso Mushroom Company are doing…

Hot Pink Oyster Mushroom Kitchen Garden Espresso Mushroom Company

Founded in Brighton, the Espresso Mushroom Company grow, and create kits allowing you to grow mushrooms from a substrate based on reclaimed coffee grounds which are gathered by bike from local cafes.

But one of the staggering elements of this project is the sheer scale of the waste coffee grounds that are produced daily – and usually get directed straight into landfill. For instance, the Espresso Mushroom Company puts it into perpective:

‘Less than 1% of the coffee cherry harvested from the coffee tree is in an espresso coffee and over 70 million cups of coffee are drunk every day in the UK.’  That’s a lot of coffee – the grounds of which are currently wasted.

And the kits are simple – open, water, grow, harvest. (and we are planning on getting one for our new studio…)

So – fresh food created from waste. What’s not to love? Check out the main Espresso Mushroom Company website for full details of the kits available…

(images via the Espresso Mushroom Company website)

Wednesday walls – espalier apples, alliums and box…

Today on Wednesday walls we are giving you a very brief peek at our new studio, which is finally taking shape and will be open very soon for the Brighton Eco Open Houses tours in the middle of this month. It is an old public toilet that we have converted into a new design studio (in keeping with our upcycling obsession), and as well as having a lovely interior space, we have a lovely exterior space too – which we are filling with fruit and herbs, including espalier apples, alliums and box. espalier apples alliums and box 1Now, you may be thinking where the wall aspect comes in today – well, with our south facing studio we have two walls which are perfect for fruit trees – and specifically, espalier trained apple trees.

The espalier trees not only benefit from the support of the wall (they will be tied into supports on the wall), the fruit will benefit from the heat that the bricks will store.

espalier apples alliums and box 2We have chosen two espalier apples for the front of the studio, which have now been underplanted with Purple Sensation Alliums, Box (which will be trained into spheres) and lavender, to aid pollination. The rest of the planters are now filled with more bulbs, grasses, herbs and fruit – plus there will be seasonal vegetables planted too over the coming months.

As well as the side walls, we have the front facade of the building, which will soon have a kiwi fruit scrambling up the front and a green wall planted above the cycle racks…

So – make the most of your walls for planting – and get fruity!

(photos by claire potter)

 

SPOTTED – structures in Arundel Castle Gardens…

Last week we had a very rare day off to visit Arundel Castle for the medieval tournament (which was fantastic) but as well as watching the most magnificent jousting and sword fighting, we also had a very lovely tour of the gardens. We have already spoken about the inspired allium and lavender planting combination that we spotted in the cutting garden, but today we are looking at a few of the structure in the Arundel Castle Gardens

First up is this wonderful green oak arch / walkway that features in the Collector Earl’s Garden, which is beautifully simple, yet also a very accomplished piece of timber structuring.

arundel castle gardens 1

Framing views, the archway and dome provide both focal points and a touch of shade in the otherwise exposed Italianate styled garden. This is a key top tip for spaces of any size – if the eye sees everything at once then a space can feel uninteresting or even a great deal smaller than it actually is. By framing views and breaking up the expanse you create increased interest in any space, whilst also having the opportunity to direct a focus in any direction you choose, such as towards a sculpture or even the view beyond.

arundel castle gardens 4

The timber structures in the space continued with a quite incredible wooden folly, decorated with antlers.

arundel castle gardens 6

And also the fantastic Oberon’s Palace, which featured fountains and sculptures and was surrounded with large terracotta pots filled with cool coloured Agapanthus.

arundel castle gardens 5

But the structures continued into the cutting and edible gardens too, with the imposing green oak arched walkway being reflected in an apple archway, which not only provided a productive architectural element to the second part of the gardens but visually tied these very different spaces together.

arundel castle gardens 2

Covered with (we think) Ashmead’s Kernel, the apple archway also allowed framed views of the historical buildings of Arundel…

arundel castle gardens 3

The Arundel Castle Gardens are all accessible within the entry level ticket and, in our opinion, are one of the huge highlights. There is a stunning amount of variety, and at this time of the year, they are also abundant with flowers and fruits. Plus, the Head Gardener and team are out and about – and were very pleased to impart their knowledge of the space and the gardens to the visitors. We were even given a small bunch of sweet peas.

A wonderful gem of an attraction in Sussex – the Arundel Castle Gardens are beautiful, slightly bonkers and varied. Which in our book is quite a winning combination.

(photos by claire potter)

 

Monday musings – this years Chelsea Fringe event announced…

Well, well, well. Where exactly has this year gone? We honestly cannot believe that it is a year since we did our Edible City foraging walk for the Chelsea Fringe festival last year. So – what are we planning on doing this year Another Edible City foraging walk, but this year, we are planning a few little extras, which we will be revealing over the next week or so…

Chelsea Fringe 2014 Flyer merged

Yep. A foraging walk, a free map and even a foraged drink at the end…

Extra details coming very soon…

wednesday walls – a hexagon based wall trellis…

oooh goodness. We have a bit of a thing for the hexagon here at the Ecospot. The love of hex is something that we have written about a few times, with hexagonal wall tiles, floor tiles, seating and all sorts featuring at various times both here and on our studio wish list. But now, we have found a rather fabulous use of the hexagon – in this wonderful hexagonal wall trellis.

combination trellis by arik levy

Created by designer Arik Levy, the ‘combination wall trellis’ is available in a variety of sizes which can be combined to create a scientific looking, modern support structure that can grow across the wall.

What we particularly love about this product (apart from the hexagons, of course) is the fact that the trellis will look as beautiful and effective without anything on at all, as it would with a smattering of foliage. Indeed, it is such a striking product that you could argue that it should not be covered in it’s entirety, or at least be covered with a deciduous climber so that the frame is exposed, and enjoyed in winter when generally the garden is a little quieter.

A lovely contemporary twist to the trellis – an often overlooked piece of kit.

(image via gardenbeet)

Wednesday walls – green walls from plastic bottles…

Today on Wednesday walls we are looking at a little bit of guerrilla gardening, with this fantastic pop up wall garden, which was installed at a home by Brazilian design studio Rosenbaum to help the underprivileged family gain direct access to food and medicinal herbs.

Brazilian design studio Rosenbaum created this hanging garden of recycled plastic bottles to help an underprivileged family with limited space in Sao Paulo live more sustainably. The old bottles were strung together and planted with flowers, spices and medicinal herbs.

We love this idea – we have written before about gutter gardening, which takes a similar form as this, but what we particularly love is the very low tech nature of this design and installation. Using locally sourced, waste 2ltr drinks bottles, the new installation is very simply constructed using suspended steel cables attached to the wall, which means that if any get broken, it is easy – and cheap to replace them.

As far as green walling goes, this is about as low tech as it gets, but the vital part is that the installation is completely suitable for the location, which is key to a great design intervention. Site, and client specific.

A wonderful, simple project that will create a real difference to the family, promote recycling and provide fresh food. And the best thing? It can be easily replicated…

(image via Innocent Facebook)

Mr Popple’s raw chocolate – good for you and with packaging to die for…

We all know that eating too much chocolate is rather bad for us. It is the essential 4pm sugar hit that we all crave, yet know that really we should eat an apple instead. But, like lots of things in this big old world, not all chocolate is made equal. Some chocolate is, (dare we say it) actually rather good for you. Raw cacao chocolate has stacks of health benefits, including natural stimulants (without the sugar crash) and loads of trace minerals and other loveliness. Mr Popple’s chocolate is not only made from beautiful raw cacao, it has the most wonderful packaging.

popples chocolate 1

This is where the term eating with your eyes really comes into its own – we spotted this beautiful chocolate first by its packaging in hiSbe Food in Brighton (our latest retail design project) and just fell in love with it.

Simple, hairy manilla style brown recycled card, the packaging of Mr Popple’s differentiates each of the delicious flavours with a single, one colour print in the centre of each bar, complete with honest mis-prints and strong logo styles.

popples chocolate 2

We do have a bit of a ‘thing’ for this type of honest and simple packaging and branding as it helps to communicate the honest nature of the brand itself with incredible clarity. A brand using raw ingredients would not really fit a packaging design that is high gloss and multicoloured. It would not work. But get it right, and it really is a powerful tool indeed.

So much so in fact, that we are going to have a bar a week as our treat, not only for the deliciousness of the chocolate itself, but to collect the packaging and drool over that as well. We are, indeed, design geeks.

(photos by claire potter)

Monday musings – the new start of grow your own…

It appears as though we have been rather blessed with an early and sudden start to a hot spring. It has literally snuck up on us all, but wandering into the garden last week, we discovered that everything has woken up and is growing at the rate of knots. We also visited two different garden centres over the weekend – one to look at trees for a client and one to pick up a few seeds. Both were rammed.

grow your own

But we also spotted something very interesting. On both trips, in both the larger nursery and the standard DIY shed garden centre, there was a much bigger area given over to edible growing than ever before. Grow your own has taken over. 

Edible hedging, strips of vegetable seedlings, canes of berries, fruit trees of all sizes and a huge variety of seeds were there – and were very, very popular indeed. At one point we stood and watched as the traditional bedding plant area was pretty much bare of shoppers, but the fruit tree area could barely hold anyone else.

And we were part of the throng, purchasing violas (edible), bean seeds and a few extra varieties of mint. We also selected the trees we will be using in one of our schemes for our clients – a mix of apples, pears and a mulberry. We might even sneak in an almond.

So, for today, we really are having a bit of a musing. The mistrust of where our food comes from, plus the general increased interest in growing your own has filtered down to the DIY sheds who are fulfilling our desires for simple, semi self sufficiency with a bigger than ever range of grow your own products.

Which in our eyes, can only be a good thing. 

(image by claire potter)

the edible city – window shades with integrated growing

Even though lots of us like to eat local, seasonal and fresh, not a lot of us have either the time or the space to grow our own food. Inner city allotments are harder to find (and take up lots of time) and many of us do not have the option of outdoor space at all – especially if we live in apartments or flats. But, fortunately, there are lots of designers who are thinking about how we can tackle this issue with innovative products – and we were delighted when we discovered the Herbow concept by Hsu Hao-Po, Chang Yu-Hui & Chang Chung-Wei – a window shade with integrated growing.

Acting as both as a sun shade and adjustable rain screen, the Herbow is a series of window shades with integrated growing for a few plants to take advantage of the space and resources at hand.

Even though this product is only a concept, there is a definite need for this kind of joined up thinking – solving a few problems with a single product and allowing us to be closer to the production of our food.

(images via Yanko Design)

2014 trends – internal planting gets a boost

We have been watching this one for a while – and participating in it too… the rise of internal planting. Gone are the days of the office with the overgrown cheese plant festering in the corner. Internal planting now entails green walls, lushly planted swathes of greenery in massed oversized planters – even internal planting that hangs from the ceiling.

Threshold 2013. Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

And we predict that the sort of installations that we have been seeing in the offices, studios and retail spaces of late will migrate across to domestic settings on a smaller scale.

As we spoke about with the steampunk trend earlier this week, this is part down to the fact that we are seeing the inclusion of internal planting increasingly in the commercial spaces we are inhabiting, but it is also because manufacturers are beginning to create products suitable for a wider range of applications.

One of our favourite – and one that we used in two projects in 2013 was the wonderful Sky Planter by Boskke (as seen above in our Edible Office installation for Love Architecture Week 2013). An upside down planter with integrated water reservoir, the recycled plastic pot hangs from a braided steel cable and provides a very interesting way to display your plants. Internal planting is not limited to the ‘house plant’ displays of old and there are actually lots of plants, including orchids and even herbs that grow very well in this orientation.

But a post on the increase of the internal planting trend would not be complete without a few words on the iconic green wall.

Whilst the large scale, self watering systems that you see in commercial settings are very, very highly engineered beasts, there are a few options which are far down the complexity scale and give a generally similar aesthetic.

One such option is the Woolly Pocket system, which, in a similar way to the Boskke Sky Planter, integrates a water reservoir to not only cut down on the chore of watering, but provides a clean and neat way to support your plants. Choose plants that cascade naturally (such as spider plants, ivy or drooping ferns) and you can create an opulent feature for relatively little cash. Or herbs in a kitchen? Free up space on the windowcill and do a spot of internal planting on your walls instead.

So, we think that 2014 will be the year that we all get a little greener. In a different way.

(images by Jim Stephenson and Woolly Planters)

2013 recap – November – foraging in the city…

Nearly at the end of our 2013 recap now, so we are posting over the weekend as a special, bunper edition of the Ecospot (and so we can start afresh with goodies next week). Lots of you are probably aware that as well as spacial design and products we are involved in landscape design – with a bit of an obsession with city foraging…

A  few weeks go, I did a talk at Brighton Pecha Kucha 2013 – all about the personal mapping that can grow around the act of foraging, and especially urban foraging. We all have our personal maps of our bus routes, places we love to shop, drink coffee etc, but these tend to stay static throughout the year. If you start to see the opportunity around you within your city – linking into the free, seasonal food that is around you, then that personal map can be enriched.

And now you can see the video of the slides and my talk here…the Edible City

After the talk (which I thoroughly enjoyed) I was approached by two lovely German journalists and bloggers, Dirk and Susanne, who were interested in the whole urban foraging experience.

Could I take them foraging in our beautiful city of Brighton and Hove? Sure I could.

Brighton_Claire_Busch_pushreset

And they did a little video about our trip too, which you can see here… (oh, and we were foraging, not foresting – a bit got lost in translation I think!)

Overall, a lovely little pairing of urban foraging activities. And stay tuned for our very special speedy spiced wild apple cider recipe later this week…

(photo by Dirk and Susanne of push:reset)

2013 recap – February – cladding with a green wall…

In our second look back for 2013, we were getting rather obsessed in February with exterior cladding with a green wall. And how easy it can actually be…

On Friday we looked at how living green wall systems can be used to bring a bit of the Pantone colour of 2013, Emerald Green into an interior space, even though the green wall is most often seen outside.

Of course, as well as bringing a bit of colour into any space, green walls have many air purifying qualities and can even be used to grow edible crops, making then a great space saving choice for residential and business premises. But, as we detailed on Friday, the green wall system is a technical beast.

There are however ways to create a living green wall effect outside with relative ease, as this project, the Art Barn in Greenwich, USA by Robert Young Architecture demonstrates beautifully.

Instead of the traditional panel green wall system that we have come to know, this project takes the effect right back to it’s literal roots – with climbing plants.

The structure is covered with an open mesh type cladding panel which allows the plants, in this case white wisteria, to cling on and scramble up the building. The wisteria acts as a natural rain screen and provides insulative shading in summer, whilst still being a separate ‘skin’ from the building beneath.

This separation provides the feeling of a shield, but also ensures that the vigorous nature of the climbing plants do not do any adverse damage to the structure of the building as they grow. There does seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to climbing plants – good living screens or potential structural nightmares, but if treated with care and attention, with this type of separation, you can have the best of both worlds and is usually the path we adopt with clients with similar projects.

This type of green wall ‘cladding’ is a great way to cover an unsightly building, garage, or to provide a skin for a larger building, just like the example above. Install an open mesh system first, slightly separated from the structure, then choose your climbers. Think of it as a modern, freestanding trellis project and you are pretty much there.

Of course, this type of green wall does take a lot longer to create the end result, but climbing plants which are relatively vigorous can be chosen to cover your chosen structure. You could even mix up your planting with edible climbers too, making the green wall productive as well as aesthetically pleasing.

So, why not think about your own green wall this year? make use of a structure and get growing.

(image via Inhabitat)

SPOTTED – the studio’s special speedy spiced seven day scrumped cider

Today we are revealing a secret. A very special secret too. The recipe for our (famed) cider which has been responsible for many an interesting night. It is quick, delicious and pretty much free – especially if you can take advantage of the kilos of free apples that are currently weighing down our hedgerows.

It is the studio special speedy spiced seven day scrumped cider.

seven day speedy cider

Now, we cannot actually lay full claim to this recipe as it was based on one found in an ancient book, but we can safely say it is the easiest way to create a rather tasty cider in record time with hardly any equipment.

To create around 8 litres of cider you will need:

one clean 12 litre bucket                                                                                                      2kg sugar                                                                                                                             3kg apples – wild, foraged apples if you can as they are *free*                                              8 litres water                                                                                                                       5cm fresh ginger                                                                                                                     a few cinnamon sticks                                                                                                            5 lemons – juice and peel                                                                                                        a blender

First off – scrub the bucket with hot soapy water, rinse and allow to drain. Then, tip all of the sugar into the bucket. Take the apples, pull out the stalk, then chop into half, then half again. There is no need to take out the core. Stick a couple of handfuls into the blender with 500ml of cold water (part of the overall 8 litres), then blend to a rough pulp. Chuck it into the bucket on top of the sugar. Repeat with all the apples, taking note of how much water you use overall. Once all the apples have been blended, add to the bucket any water that still remains of your overall 8 litres.

apples 2

 

Stir the contents of the bucket slowly yet thoroughly, dissolving the sugar sitting at the bottom. Throw in the spices and the lemon juice and peel, cover with a clean cloth then sit it in a cool place. Each morning and evening for a week, uncover and stir well (it will discolour like the picture above – this is fine), then on the 8th day, sieve out the apple pulp and store in clean plastic bottles.

The cider can be drunk straight away, but is better if it ages for a month or so. It is even better hot.

But don’t ask us how alcoholic it is. We have no idea, but based on our own experience we would say quite. It is also quite delicious, so why not take advantage of the incredible apple harvest this year and give it a go? Would be great stored away for Christmas…

(images by claire potter)

Monday musings – foraging in Brighton, with a German twist…

A  few weeks go, I did a talk at Brighton Pecha Kucha 2013 – all about the personal mapping that can grow around the act of foraging, and especially urban foraging. We all have our personal maps of our bus routes, places we love to shop, drink coffee etc, but these tend to stay static throughout the year. If you start to see the opportunity around you within your city – linking into the free, seasonal food that is around you, then that personal map can be enriched.

And now you can see the video of the slides and my talk here…the Edible City

After the talk (which I thoroughly enjoyed) I was approached by two lovely German journalists and bloggers, Dirk and Susanne, who were interested in the whole urban foraging experience.

Could I take them foraging in our beautiful city of Brighton and Hove? Sure I could.

Brighton_Claire_Busch_pushreset

And they did a little video about our trip too, which you can see here… (oh, and we were foraging, not foresting – a bit got lost in translation I think!)

Overall, a lovely little pairing of urban foraging activities. And stay tuned for our very special speedy spiced wild apple cider recipe later this week…

(photo by Dirk and Susanne of push:reset)

SPOTTED – seedbombs – creating a flowering legacy – TEDx Brighton

As well as the fabulous talks at last weeks TEDx Brighton, there were also a whole raft of exhibitions and workshops within the very aptly named Ideas Lab, which was free for anyone to attend. The idea of the, er, Ideas Lab was to include a range of people who would investigate the theme of legacy and heritage on an interactive basis.

seedbomb

One of the exhibitors in the Ideas Lab was the brilliant Seedbomb Factory, run by guerilla gardener and author Josie Jeffery.

Using just earth, clay and seeds, visitors were encouraged to literally get their hands dirty – combining the lot into perfectly packaged seedbombs which will be launched into a secret site in Brighton – encouraging the development of a new, unplanned garden and supporting local wildlife.

seedbomb

And really, the seedbomb is a great way to do this – and a great way for lots of ages to get involved and the legacy of utilising otherwise abandoned or underused spaces within the city.

seedbomb

Plus, it feels about as good as you can get being naughty, because even though *strictly* chucking a seedbomb onto a waste site is not allowed, who, really will disapprove of the resulting loveliness?

Does this not spread the legacy of respect for nature and extended biodiversity to our younger generation?

Of course it does. And we would encourage everyone to get out there and plant up just about anything that needs planting up. Just don’t get caught. And don’t say we told you so.

(images via seed freedom)