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Biospheric Project Wins With Mushrooms And More

It's organic beers all round for Vincent Walsh

Published on July 21st 2014.

Biospheric Project Wins With Mushrooms And More

AWARDS press releases can be the most tedious in the world, back-slapping affairs dreary to those not involved. 

And sometimes almost inexplicable. 

It involves one of the sweetest initiatives in the region in terms of goals and imagination. It also involves a man in dreads growing 'exotic mushrooms' in an abandoned Salford mill.

We once received one from the insolvency sector about their national awards being held in Manchester. “Well done Roger you’ve closed down more companies than anybody else in the UK this year.” Should there even be an Insolvency Awards night? Bit grim. 

But this back-slap Confidential will allow. It involves one of the sweetest initiatives in the region in terms of goals and imagination. It also involves a man in dreads growing 'exotic mushrooms' in an abandoned Salford mill. Now stop jumping to conclusions. 

Everything south of here is the awards press release. 

Biospheric Project, Salford’s ground breaking urban farm and sustainable food research centre, has been named as one of only five ‘Green Champions’ at this year’s Green Apple Built Environment Awards, beating off competition from nearly 100 other leading environmental projects.  

With judges drawn from the Environment Agency, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Chartered Institution for Wastes Management, the awards were established in 1994 and are a non-profit and non-political initiative which celebrates Britain's greenest companies, councils and communities. 

The Biospheric team, led by founder Vincent Walsh, create and experiment with sustainable crop production systems in and around a derelict mill on the banks of the River Irwell. 

Supported with funding from Salford City Council and other partners, including Siemens and outdoor clothing brand Craghoppers, the Project aims to develop new sources of food and growing techniques which can thrive in urban environments including unused land, buildings and roof spaces. 

One of the Project’s most significance breakthroughs has been in the successful cultivation of exotic mushrooms grown in bags full of waste material such as old coffee grounds which is currently being scaled up to create a commercially viable fungi business aimed at restaurants across Greater Manchester. 

Vincent has also established Salford’s only wholefood shop, 78 Steps, which is supplied with produce grown at the research centre and further runs a whole box delivery service in and around Salford. 

Vincent said of the award: “To be one of only a handful of projects awarded Green Champion status at the Green Apple awards is a fantastic achievement and it’s great that our work to try and create fully self-sufficient food production systems within an urban setting has been judged one of the most innovative green initiatives in the UK. 

“However we’ve only just scratched the surface with regards to what can achieved through urban farming and although this award is great for profile we really hope it will help leverage the additional research funding we need to fulfil the project’s full potential.”  

 Salford City Council co- commissioned The Biospheric Project with Manchester International Festival (MIF) for the July 2013 festival and nominated it for the award. 

Salford’s elected City Mayor Ian Stewart said: “We backed this cutting edge project from the start because urban food growing is the way forward. It’s about helping people get affordable, fresh food and learn the skills they need to grow their own while showing how this can be done on a commercial scale.”  

In addition to the prestigious award, Vincent and his team have been invited to have their winning paper published in The Green Book, the leading international work of reference on environmental best practice.

You can read more about the project here.

Here's a video the editor Jonathan Schofield did about the Biospheric Project in which he mispronounces the name. Still it gives a good insight to the project and he'd probablyhad a long lunch.

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