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London restaurant sources herbs from its own roof

The Dairy in Clapham, London has its own take on the trend for locally grown food. With all the current talk of food miles, chef Robin Gill and his wife grow all the herbs and salad leaves for their restaurant – right on their own roof!

There’s no need to pollute the environment by having herbs delivered by truck, nor do restaurant staff have to travel far to harvest the produce, as it’s all grown on site just metres away.

All that was available to the couple was some roof space, suitable only for shallow containers, yet their resourcefulness has shone through. Now, they grow a variety of leaves and herbs, which are then used in the preparation of the restaurant’s dishes.

Several types of lettuce, including lollo rossa and butterhead, are grown on the premises, and there is a regular crop of peppery rocket leaves too. As for the herbs, what is grown is selected on the basis of five flavour categories – allium, anise, aromatic, mint or pepper.

Some of the plant species grown on the South London roof even burst into bloom. Nasturtiums are prized by the chef for the fact that you can use their flowers, leaves and even the seed pods. Onion cress is another favourite that flowers, and was originally inspired by a family garden in Dublin.

The restaurant staff apparently enjoy the green space too, with workers sharing watering and harvesting duties. The rooftop garden provides “a bit of headspace as well,” says the pioneering head chef.

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