Biospheric Foundation Circa 2013- 2015


For several years this was the official website for Vincent Walsh's Biospheric Foundation and its Biospheric Projects.
The Biospheric Foundation, based in an Urban Splash mill by the banks of the River Irwell in Blackfriars, was supposed to be a state-of-the-art urban growing centre that featured chickens, bees and greenhouses on its flat roof, a forest garden outside and an `aquaponics' system inside, where fish waste provides the food source for growing plants, and the plants provide a natural filter for the fish's water.
Three years later, the Biospheric Foundation Community Interest Company, which ran the project, had gone bust, with debts totalling £105,265, including £46,893 to the Salford City Council, with assets estimated to bring not a penny back to creditors.
By 2015 Vincent Walsh had moved on with a new company, Biospheric Studio. With £100,000 of funding in September of that year from a private investor, Vincent Walsh was planning on developing a new mobile mushroom farm, with the intent to sell the fungi to The Lowry Hotel in Salford and to the restaurant Tampopo in Manchester UK.
Content is from the site's 2013 - 2014 archived pages as well as other sources.


The Biospheric Project: An Introduction with Vincent Walsh
Interview with Vincent Walsh, Project Manager at The Biospheric Project, a Urban Farming Project commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Salford City Council and Biospheric Foundation CIC, Salford, Greater Manchester.



The Biospheric Foundation is a Socio-Ecological Urban Research Practice.
The Foundation provides a platform to develop research, design and enterprise through a prism of new ecological & technological urban culture.

The Foundations R&D, investigates advanced ecological urban systems. We integrate, densify and persify ecological systems and networks, designing urban agroforestry, hydroponics, aquaponic, vermiponics, aeroponics, Bio-facade’s, continue productive landscapes, architectural forms.


Biospheric Project is a first multi systems urban farm in Europe.
The Project is situated in the heart of Blackfriars Community, East Salford.


The Biospheric Foundation works with a variety of UK institutions and European independent research teams.


The Biospheric Foundation works with Vertical Village, Salix Homes, Contour, and Greengate Housing Corporative.



The Foundation has developed an array of hyper localised production, distribution networks in the heart of Blackfriars, East Salford

78 Steps is a localised whole food store, creating better access to healthy food in the local community, supplied by a range of high quantity hyper-local distributors and district producers. 78 shop is a mere seventy-eight steps from the Biospheric Project, located at the base of Newbank Tower next to the Vertical Villages community rooms. The first community led whole food grocers in the City of Salford is part of a wider plan at the Biospheric Foundation that aims to create new enterprise and employment, empowering the local community of a sustainable change.

The Biospheric Box is a portable multifunctional unit made from a 20ft shipping container. Designed in collaboration with Whitecrate with a fully interchangeable interior to adapt to different community settings, its aim is to challenge and revolutionise people’s relationship with food.

As a whole-food shop it can make fresh fruit and vegetables available in areas where access would otherwise be limited, while as a demonstration and information point it can provide help and advice to make healthy lifestyle choices much more accessible and convenient.

Whole Box is a whole food retailer supplying a wide range of organic, local and whole foods across Salford and Manchester. We are a food retailer with a difference, producing food on site, as part of The Biospheric Project, alongside The Biospheric Foundation and Manchester International Festival, working with local food producers and direct buying from well-known ethical wholesalers. Why not buy from our range of whole foods today.




The Project was Commissioned by Manchester International Festival in 2013 and produced by The Biospheric Foundation and Manchester International Festival. In this formerly derelict mill, innovations in design and food production have been brought together to show how forward-thinking cities can develop sustainable food solutions for the 21st century.

Part vertical farm and part laboratory/research centre, the project brings together different food production systems, waste systems,  food distribution systems in a single self-regulating and sustainable method. Explore the building to see how these systems relate to each other, and witness first-hand how these experiments into food, technology and design can help secure the future of food production in our cities.

Forest gardening has been practised around the world for centuries, but it didn’t gain a foothold in the UK until Robert Hart introduced it in the 1960s. Based on the principles governing natural woodland ecosystems, a forest garden is a low-maintenance system designed to have a range of direct uses for humans – from edible crops to medicinal plants.

Our forest garden is being designed to grow more than 50 species of trees and more than 100 plant species, including fruits, berries, perennial vegetables, medicinal plants, herbs and spices, edible flowers and other supportive species. Its location in a densely populated area of the city allows us to study how inner-city land may be modified and adapted for food production. The forest garden has been created using agricultural processes such as alley-cropping, bio-trenching and guiding, resulting in a low-maintenance, high yield growth system.

Earthworms can play a vital role in food and plant growth. Worms are a crucial part of the Biospheric Project: they improve the quality of our soil and crops; they support waste reduction and recycling, which reduces landfill, water pollution and ultimately greenhouse gas emissions; and they even serve as a food source for our fish. Our worms are European nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis), a small to medium-sized worm that weighs around 1.5g when fully grown.

Inside the vermiculture pods, worms break down organic waste from the Biospheric Project, our WholeBox vegetable scheme and our shop, 78 Steps. The worms ingest and aerate this decaying waste, depositing castings that are rich in nutrients and microbes that are used to help grow plants throughout the building

In the Biospheric Project’s in-house mushroom laboratory, we are growing a variety of organic mushrooms (shiitake and oyster mushrooms, for example) on a number of commonly available, recycled substrates, including woodchip, sawdust, coffee grounds and chaff. In doing so, we’re aiming to develop a deeper understanding of techniques that could be used for indoor urban mushroom production. In particular, we’re hoping to determine the conditions that would be necessary in order to increase production to the point at which we could provide local restaurants and communities with fresh supplies of this nutritious and tasty foodstuff.

Roof garden is one of the largest spaces in the building, and is home to leaf crops, honey bees, chickens and renewable energy systems. Designed as a modern-day Garden of Eden, over time it will become a green beacon in an urban environment.

The main growing space in the roof garden is the 15-metre polytunnel, in which we plan to grow leaf crops such as spinach, kale, lettuce, herbs, micro-herbs and possibly some grasses as well as a few edible flowers. Using a polytunnel results in higher temperatures, which improves the conditions for plant growth. These higher temperatures allow us to experiment with crops normally grown in warmer climates while also increasing the overall crop yield.

Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, the process of rearing fish, and hydroponics, the process of growing plants in water. In aquaponics, these two disciplines are brought together in a way that benefits them both.

Fish produce two waste products: ammonia through respiration and solid waste. If these waste products are left to accumulate in the tanks, they can become toxic to the fish – but by using aquaponics, we can filter out this waste and put it to better use.

The ammonia-rich water is pumped through a series of filtration beds containing two types of bacteria that convert the ammonia into nitrite, then into nitrate. Our plants absorb this nitrate and use it as a nutrient for growing. After the plants have removed the nitrate the clean water can be re-circulated back to the fish tanks and the cycle can start again

The Bio-façade prototype is a system designed to optimise the food productivity by developing  sustainable hyper-localised food system. The prototype aims to test the façade for a future implementation within the cities on unutilised building walls. From the perspective of the Biospheric Foundation, the Bio-façade research program aims to challenge traditional ways that ecological and technological infrastructure is implemented with cities.

The research program pertains firstly to develop advanced Ecological Urban Systems that merge Biospheric methods with technology and bring together the architectural hardware with ecological software; secondly to promote an hyper-localised networks for food distribution. The Biospheric Façade was developed by Belfast Queens University, Biospheric Foundation, Siemens, BDP Architects, Saint-Gobain, within an ongoing collaboration initiated by the Biospheric Project.





Vincent Walsh is currently undertaking a PhD focusing on socio-ecological urban development. The action led research developed at the Foundation aims to create the conditions for transdisciplinarity & the emergence of new urban cultures.

Vincent’s research at Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design was chosen as one of the 100 Big Ideas that will change the future by the Research Council UK. The research & papers here aims to connect an array of system thinkers, ecological practitioners, technologist, social scientists, and policy makers, brought together by there fascination for the Biospheric foundation platform .


2014 -2013 BLOG POSTS

Biospheric Project.
Date Sat 12th July 2014

This full day event will explore many aspects of the fascinating world of fungi, techniques for growing them, and their medicinal applications. The first half of the day will be largely focussed on outdoor log culture of medicinal species …


Medicinal Mushroom Day @ The Biospheric Project.

Date Sat 12th July 2014

This full day event will explore many aspects of the fascinating world of fungi, techniques for growing them, and their medicinal applications. The first half of the day will be largely focussed on outdoor log culture of medicinal species …



Written by Rob Squireson June 20, 2014

An invitation to ‘Excellis in trellis’  – community gardening day,
Friday 27th June 10 – 4.00pm

Its a curious phenomena I’ve observed that we British are pided about when the seasons begin and end. Try googling ‘start of summer’ and you’ll see that half of us think that the solstice is mid-summer’s …



Written by Rob Squireson May 12, 2014

Its “fun guy” in the Forest Garden!

Community work day – Friday May 30th 10-00 – 4.00

Spring is now well and truly sprung, and the garden is very much alive .. as we head towards our third community work day on the last Friday of May!!

We had another busy day during ...




Written by Rob Squireson May 9, 2014

Blackfriars Forest Garden is a piece of land attached to the Biospheric Foundation, on the banks of the River Irwell, in deepest, post-industrial Salford. The garden is now in its second year. I was asked by Vinny Walsh, founder of the Biospheric, to do some planning for the garden, and … 




Black Forest

Written by Tree Dietrich on April 25, 2014

Thank you to our volunteers who braved the weather to assist in the Forest Garden today.




Written by Tree Dietrich on April 16, 2014

We are pleased to announce that from Tuesday 22nd, we will be stocking a range of organic vegetables & fruit, sourced mainly from the UK.
Aswell as fruit & veg, we will have a variety of local organic cheese, butter, herbs & spices and fruit juices.
We hope to see you in … 





Written by Tree Dietrich on April 11, 2014

We are happy to show off our your new summer meeting space – on our roof garden.
Perfect for a meeting with a difference.  It certainly beats sitting in a room with 4 white walls.
Enjoy the views and hospitality provided by the Biospheric Project.

Also available Teas & coffee, tours of the …



Public Tour

Written by Tree Dietrich on April 8, 2014

Following on from the sold out public tour last Saturday, we are please to announce another public tour of the Biospheric Project this Saturday.

If you would like to book in the tour please email

Meeting in the Forest Garden at 11am. £5 per person




Public Tour

Written by Tree Dietrich on April 3, 2014

Did you know?
You can hire out the Biospheric Project for meetings & conferences.
Sit alongside the aquaponics system, or in good weather sit on the roof garden or in the forest garden -
It beats sitting in a boring meeting room with plain white walls!


photo forest garden small


Written by Tree Dietrich on April 1, 2014

Thursday 3rd April & Friday 25th April
10.00 AM – 4.00 PM

Meet green fingered people

Get involved and learn about the Biospheric Forest Garden

Enjoy fresh air and physical activity on the banks of the Irwell

Blackfriars Forest Garden was initiated two years ago by the Biospheric Foundation, as a demonstration of how a …




Written by Tree Dietrich on March 27, 2014

The Biospheric Project hosted a formal dinner for 40 Siemens staff & apprentices with top chef Robert Owen Brown serving up some delicious local food.

Marie Emerson – Siemens

“Each year we hold a dinner in Manchester for Siemens staff and sponsored students, and this year we chose the Biospheric Foundation to …





Written by Vincent Walsh on October 24, 2013

Manchester International Festival and the Biospheric Foundation have developed the Blackfriars Box Promotion scheme for the local residents of Blackfriars and the wider Salford Community.

We are offering fifty £5.00 whole food boxes for free to the residents of the towers in Blackfriars who are not currently a member of the …



Wild Food

Written by Vincent Walsh on October 17, 2013

Have you ever thought how rich and thriving can be nature in an urban environment? We have invited Jesper Launder to take you on a journey of Wild Food. Get ready to explore the surrounding of Blackfriars developing skills, enjoying Nature’s free larder and tasting wild food.

This day will amaze …



Wild Food

Written by Vincent Walsh on October 3, 2013

Vincent discusses how the project has connected with the local community and why the geographical positioning of this research is one of the project’s unique features. He gives an insight into why the project started in Salford and its relevance to local communities, as well as to national and international …



5 Biospheric Recipe Cards

Written by Vincent Walsh on October 3, 2013

How to submit your recipe

If you would like to take part, submit your recipe notes and pictures by Wednesday 9th October 2013 to or drop the information in to 78 steps (for the attention of Kate Houlton).

What you need to send

The recipe

Dish name
How many people your recipe will serve
Measurements …



First Cropt

Written by Vincent Walsh on August 16, 2013

The Biospheric Team had the pleasure to get the tools out and cut the first leaf crops. And oh! Were we surprised how much we got out of it: 21 Kilograms (46lb 5oz) of leaves with great colours, great texture and great taste!

Spinaches, kale, good King Henry, sorrel, what a …



Written by Vincent Walsh on August 6, 2013

Over the last 12 months The Biospheric Foundation, with support from the Manchester International Festival, has collaborated with world renowned engineers, architects, scientists, artists. The confluence of such vibrant energies has been an amazing experience.

Going forward, keeping true to our game, the Foundation will continue working with first class and …



 Food System

Written by Andy Jenkins on July 16, 2013

My name is Andy Jenkins and I am the lead technical designer at The Biospheric Project. I am also a Ph.D. researcher at Queens University Belfast where I am exploring the integration of technological food systems into the existing infrastructures of the city.

The city finds itself in an unexpected situation …



Picture 20

Written by Vincent Walsh on July 12, 2013

This week at The Biospheric Project we have welcomed two local school groups every day, who have each been treated to a tour of the food systems by Vincent Walsh. This large school engagement programme has been commissioned as part of MIF’s public programme and managed by the MIF Creative …




Written by Vincent Walsh on July 8, 2013

What a weekend at The Biospheric Project. We opened our doors of this unique project with a press and partners tour, which saw Vincent Walsh, Project Manager at The Biospheric Project, and his team being interviewed by The Guardian, BBC Today Programme with Evan Davies, The Independent and a host …



Biospheric Launches


Written by Vincent Walsh on July 6, 2013

Today we have officially launched The Biospheric Project and open our doors to the the wider world to become part of its groundbreaking urban farm experiment. The fortnight-long open house kicks off with the first public talk of this innovative research hub, an in conversation event with Project Manager Vincent …


Written by Vincent Walsh on July 4, 2013

Are you ready to join us at The Biospheric Project?

The Biospheric team have been working extremely hard over the last 6 month and we are nearly ready to open our doors. Over the next 18 days visitors will discover how we have transformed this disused industrial site to be filled …




Written by Vincent Walsh on July 3, 2013

After months of hard work by The Biospheric Project team, Siemens, BDP, ENER-G, Rock, North and South plus lots of local support, we are starting to see real change at Irwell house. There is lots of activity in, around and on the building, developing all the food systems in preparation …




Written by Vincent Walsh on July 1, 2013

PLACES schools workshops
Catherine Clements, John Bishop and Daniel Wheatley.
(browse our schools workshop gallery)

Since the early summer months of 2013 PLACES has worked with eight primary schools and one nurseries in Salford and Manchester in response to The Biospheric Project as part of Manchester International Festival. This has been a creative learning project that has …




Written by Vincent Walsh on June 27, 2013

Inspiring Young People with Technology
Martyn Catlow

As Gold Supporters of Manchester International Festival 2013 Siemens – along with other MIF13 sponsors – have been key collaborators in The Biospheric Project.

For Siemens The Biospheric Project represents a very real way to demonstrate the value that modern technology and industry can bring to projects that …




Written by Vincent Walsh on June 25, 2013

As supporters of MIF13, ENER-G Combined Power Limited are working with The Biospheric Foundation at The Biospheric Project to provide power and heating via an energy efficient cogeneration system. As a global, sustainable energy business headquartered in Salford, ENER-G is delighted to support the project with a Combined Heat and …




Written by Vincent Walsh on June 21, 2013

From the Muddy Banks of the Irwell….

It’s an exciting time for our ongoing collaboration with the Manchester International Festival and the Biospheric Foundation, as the technical ecological systems emerge to re-animate, re-cycle and revitalise Irwell House, a disused Mill on the banks of the River Irwell.

Part farm, part laboratory and …




Written by Vincent Walsh on June 18, 2013

We might be busy getting ready for the Festival but when it comes to the Forest Garden, we’re thinking long term. It can take 10 years for an eco-system to be established and as part of our work we’ll be doing extensive research into how to prepare and clean the …




Written by Vincent Walsh on June 15, 2013

Vincent Walsh has taken time out to give an insight into the thinking behind The Biospheric Project. As the project manager, he discusses it’s aims, the transformation already underway at Irwell House and the importance of the research being developed there.



Written by Vincent Walsh on May 23, 2013

Hello and welcome!

Thank you for joining us in what we hope will be the start of a biospheric revolution right here in Salford, Greater Manchester. Firstly, an introduction from myself and then a little about what we have planned for The Biospheric Project over the coming months.

I am Vincent Walsh, …



The Foundation comprises of two directors, two project managers, two project assistants, two volunteer coordinators a landscape architect and 30 core volunteers.


A high profile collective comprising of SKV Communications, Hill Dickinson, Beever & Struthers and more



VINCENT WALSH Founder / Director

STEVE COLES Project Assistant

SOPHIE THOMPSON Junior Landscape Architect


DAVE OLDROYD Project Assistant


MARGARET WESTBROOK Volunteers Co-ordinator

AGGI KATNIA Project Manager

JENNY CHAPMAN Volunteers Co-ordinator

Over the last 36 Months The Biospheric Foundation has brought together a diverse set of public and private organisations help to fund our groundbreaking projects and research programs. Their support is greatly appreciated.