Thornton’s Budgens supermarket in Crouch End, north London, was one of the most sustainable supermarkets in the world, until its untimely end this past March. The most interesting feature of the supermarket was that it actually had a rooftop garden that supplied the store with food.
The rooftop garden was part of a program called “Food From The Sky”, which brought a new philosophy of sustainability to the food industry. Not only was all of the store’s food produced on the roof, but the compost used for the garden was actually made from waste produced by the store.
The market was also heavily involved with teaching the community about urban gardening and permaculture. In fact, each year the market held a number of classes and seminars that were attended by hundreds of people.
“It began with a vision I had four years ago while walking down the streets of London longing for the bounty and beauty of the land of Embercombe, a sustainability centre near Exeter, that I had just left. I started ‘seeing’ orchards on all flat roofs, dangling strawberries, tomatoes, with children and elders learning together. I asked myself, could we bring the land, conscious communities and healthy food to the roofs of London?” co-founder, Azul-Valerie Thome said.
In 2009, Azul met Andrew Thornton, the owner of Thornton’s Budgens, who was impressed with his vision and agreed to help make it a reality.
“I saw Food from the Sky as a chance to connect so many people, adults and children, with what they eat and to connect us even more with each other. I underestimated the impact it would have on everyone who walked up those stairs. I still love the looks on their faces when new visitors get their first glimpse of the garden,” Thornton said.
While the market was popular with the community, the building fell into disrepair in recent years, and they could not continue to fund the project.
However, this idea should not stop with this supermarket, this should give the food industry a perfect model and example to follow for the future!
John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.